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The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted most of what constituted normal life, including school schedules and sports. As with many other sports, high school football had been postponed until next spring. But after some debate over requested variances from many school districts, the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Board of Directors voted to provide member schools with the local option to play football during this fall.

Some 218 Colorado school districts have decided to proceed with fall football, while some 58 school districts are going to remain on course for spring play. Unlike many Colorado school districts, Salida and Buena Vista have offered both in-person and online learning since the beginning of the school year. Both districts have decided to continue to delay the football season until spring, 2021.

The decision to wait didn’t just involve the schools, it included county leadership and public health. Salida High School’s athletic director Jim Coscarella told Ark Valley Voice, “On Sept. 16 after receiving some requested variances to play football in the fall, the CHSAA Board of Directors voted to provide member schools with the local option to play football in the fall. Last Thursday, Sept. 17, the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) emailed all members schools and asked them to declare by 8:00 a.m. Monday Sept. 21, whether they would play football in the fall or spring.”

Salida School District Football Field, Courtesy photo.

Coscarella continued “I communicated that to Public Health, Superintendent Blackburn, and Principal Thompson. Coach Luttrell, his assistant coaches and I were in favor of playing in the fall. The Chaffee County leadership roundtable group met that afternoon and told us to hold off on football until the spring so that we do not add risk to school remaining open to in-person learning. I respect the leadership team’s decision and we will move forward providing practice opportunities for all our teams over the next few months.”

The Buena Vista school district took a similar stance on fall football. The district website acknowledged that “While there was not much time for consideration, in collaboration with Chaffee County Public Health, Salida School District, and our own district team, the decision was made to continue with the August published schedule of spring football in Buena Vista.”

Both Buena Vista and Salida sports organizations took a similar stance regarding safeguarding the student’s learning environment. With COVID-19 cases occurring predominantly in the northern part of the county (the entire Buena Middle School will be in quarantine until Oct. 1 and the trend in COVID-19 cases in the county is on the rise.) the emphasis needs to be on keeping schools open for in-person learning. “Our coaches and players have been planning for this, our local public health discouraged this level of contact at this time, and our district’s current priority remains on sustaining in-person learning,” said school officials. “We look forward to a unique opportunity for our football and volleyball teams to play in the spring.”