By Jesse Sarles

(CBS4) – Colorado’s governor and the Colorado High School Activities Association have authorized sports including high school football to return this fall. In an interview about coronavirus this week, CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida explained on CBSN Denver what he thinks school districts need to do to make sure their student athletes and their coaches stay safe when they return to the gridiron.

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“Well, I think they’re doing the best they can,” Hnida said. “They’ve come up with a group of guidelines that (everyone is) hopeful are going to be successful in helping to really keep keep any source of transmission down.”

To limit the spread of COVID-19, roster sizes will be limited and social distancing will be required for players on the sideline as well fans who are in the stands. Masks are also required for those who aren’t actively on the field and involved in plays.

“There are a lot of things that are going on in terms of trying to keep people apart, but yet allowing them to participate. As being a player, as being a coach and as being a team doctor for literally hundreds of games over the course of my life, this is really going to be kind of a hard thing to do, just because of the very nature of football,” Hnida said.

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In the big picture there are a couple of things that are working in favor of the plan, according to Hnida.

“Number one is the fact that football is something that is played outside. So you do have good fresh air circulating around. Number two? Right now here in Colorado our (coronavirus) numbers are good, our numbers are down. We’re not having the higher numbers that many other states are seeing.”

But there are a few issues that still present problems.

“First and foremost on there is the fact that you don’t have the level of testing that is taking place in college and in the NFL, so without that daily- or multiple-times-per-week testing, the ability to detect COVID on a team is really severely limited. And number two, you have kids who are spending time at home, they wind up coming into a group setting, onto a team that has 50 to 100 players. They’re mixing and circulating through the course of practices and in games, and then they wind up going into school, where they may be parts of different pods and cohorts, and so forth. So there is the potential for spread there. I think this is really a big experiment at this point in time, and hopefully, will wind up turning out well.”

(credit: CBS)

Learn more about CHSAA’s new plan for having football in both the fall and spring in the 2020-21 school year.

Jesse Sarles

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