Colorado Preps has been sent a letter with additional information about a meeting tomorrow between a Superintendent’s Advocacy group and the Colorado Department of Health (CDPHE). We understand that an invitation has also been sent to Rhonda Blanford-Green, the commissioner for the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA).
The letter below is from Superintendents with questions they have for the meeting. Once we get feedback on the meeting’s outcome we will share that information.
Photo is provided by Jerry McBride of the Durango Herald Newspaper.
Dr. Erly (CDPHE – Medical Epidemiolgist)
Mara Brosy-Wiwchar (CDPHE – Chief of Staff to the Executive Director),
Thank you for your willingness to meet with Superintendents to address the concerns we are hearing and dealing with from parents, athletes and our community members related to CDHPE’s recent decision to require high school basketball players to wear masks while competing.
Parents, athletes and community members are concerned that requiring masks to be worn while competing is unsafe, unrealistic and highly unlikely to be effective in accomplishing the intended purpose of decreasing the risk of COVID transmission and/or infection.
We want to be clear, our advocacy efforts in our upcoming meeting with you on behalf of our parents, athletes and community members is solely focused on encouraging CDPHE to reconsider their decision to require high school basketball athletes to wear masks while competing. We are not questioning or advocating that masks NOT be worn by athletes, coaches or spectators that are not actively competing. Furthermore, we agree with and will follow ALL other COVID safety and mitigation requirements of the CHSAA variance to play season B sports as approved by CDPHE.
We look forward to the opportunity to meet with you and advocate on behalf of our parents, athletes and community members who feel that requiring masks to be worn while competing is unsafe, unrealistic and highly unlikely to be effective in accomplishing the intended purpose of decreasing the risk of COVID transmission and/or infection.
Questions to CDPHE – These will be the CDPHE representatives addressing our questions/concerns:
Dr. Brian Erly – CDPHE Epidemiologist
Mara Brosy-Wiwchar – CDPHE Chief of Staff to the Executive Director
Questions/Concerns we are receiving from parents, athletes, community members regarding CDPHE’s recent decision to require high school basketball players to wear masks while competing in basketball:
- Parents are concerned that requiring masks to be worn while competing in basketball is unsafe, unrealistic and highly unlikely to be effective in accomplishing the intended purpose of decreasing the risk of COVID transmission and/or infection. Did CDPHE observe basketball teams/players wearing masks while competing to acquire 1st hand observation data that provides them confidence that requiring athletes to wear masks while competing is safe, realistic and effective? If not, do you think that it would be a good idea to make sure you see first hand that your decision is safe, realistic and effective?
- Did CDPHE ask for/acquire any COVID transmission/infection contact tracing data from other states that have been allowing their athletes to compete since August to see if there was any contact tracing data from these other states that indicated they experienced a great deal of COVID transmission/infection cases that resulted from high school athletes competing in sports?
- Did CDPHE ask for/acquire any COVID transmission/infection contact tracing data from other states that have been allowing their athletes to compete and requiring them to wear masks to see if there was any contact tracing data from these other states that correlated to decreased COVID transmission/infection rates resulting from high school athletes competing and being required to wear a mask?
- State Health Departments in the majority of States are NOT requiring athletes to wear masks while competing. Why is CDPHE joining the minority, rather than the majority of State Health Departments that have determined that masks should NOT be required while competing?
- The World Health Organization’s guidance related to wearing masks while engaging in vigorous physical activity, like competing in a basketball game, clearly states that even when in an area of COVID transmission, masks should NOT be worn due to the health risks associated with reducing breathing capacity. Why does the WHO have it wrong and CDPHE has it right?
- Can CDPHE provide us with the scientific research literature/data they referenced to inform their decision making that proves masks are safe for ALL athletes to wear while competing for the full duration of a competition and that mask wearing will pose no serious health risk to any athletes regardless of their conditioning level, physical shape, medical disabilities or any player disability or limitation?
- If masks are drenched in sweat, routinely falling down or off, being knocked off onto the floor, picked up, put on and constantly touched/adjusted by the athlete throughout the game, won’t the mask be so contaminated and ineffective that it will be rendered useless to provide the intended protection from transmitting and/or being infected with the COVID virus?
- What do you suggest we do for our athletes wearing corrective glasses so they can safely compete while wearing a mask, as their lenses will constantly be fogged over significantly limiting their ability to see, posing a significantly increased opportunity for injury to themselves, teammates and opponents while competing?
- What do you suggest we do for our athletes that are experiencing physical distraction, impaired vision and depth perception from wearing a mask, posing a significantly increased opportunity for injury to themselves, teammates and opponent while competing?
- What do you suggest that we do for our athletes that have discontinued wearing mouthguards in an effort to breathe while wearing a mask, posing a significantly increased opportunity for dental and/or concussion related injuries?
- Is it accurate that CDPHE will NOT allow any medical exemptions for student athletes to NOT wear a face mask while competing? If so, how is CDPHE’s decision not discrimination against student athletes who have a medical disability like asthma?
- The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) in their guidance rated various sports for their respective potential transmission/infection risk related to COVID. Football and Wrestling are ranked in the higher risk sports group and Basketball is ranked in the moderate risk sports group. Why is CDPHE allowing football players and wrestlers to not wear masks while competing in sports that are ranked as higher risk sports for COVID transmission/infection when compared to Basketball?
- College level basketball athletes are not required to wear masks while competing, we are told that the mask exemption at the college level is in place due to COVID testing protocols that are being required to be conducted at the college level:
- What are the COVID testing requirement protocols that college basketball programs are required to follow to qualify for the mask exemption?
- Do the COVID testing requirement protocols apply to all colleges at all divisions?
- Is there any reporting or verification that college basketball teams must provide to verify that they are following COVID testing protocol requirements?
- If high school basketball programs agreed to follow the same college level COVID testing protocols that are allowing college athletes to not wear masks while competing, could high school athletes not be required to wear masks also?
- Does CDPHE have any more/less responsibility or authority to determine/decide what COVID restrictions must be followed by athletes at the high school level when compared to the college level with regard to what restrictions are required to be followed for athletes to reduce the risk of transmission or infection from COVID while competing?
- Did Colorado College Level Basketball Programs/Divisions have to acquire permission from CDPHE to NOT require their basketball players to NOT wear masks or does the requirement to seek permission only apply to CHSAA and High School basketball programs and players?
Questions to CHSAA – Rhonda Blanford Green
CHSAA has communicated to their school membership that they requested/advocated that athletes should NOT be required to wear masks while competing as part of their variance request to CDPHE.
- What was the rationale behind CHSAA’s decision to advocate/request that athletes should NOT be required to wear masks while competing?
- Was that rationale communicated by CHSAA to support their variance request to CDPHE asking them NOT to require High School Basketball Players to wear masks while competing?
- When CDPHE denied CHSAA’s advocacy request for athletes to NOT be required to wear masks while competing, why did CHSAA not communicate CDPHE’s request denial to its membership schools to allow them the opportunity to join CHSAA’s advocacy efforts to encourage CDPHE to not require athletes to wear masks?
- The majority of High School Athletic Associations in other states have successfully developed and implemented “return to sports” plans that have been approved by their respective State Health Departments allowing their membership school teams and athletes to successfully play sports since August. Why couldn’t CHSAA get this done for its membership schools, teams and athletes in Colorado?