Aurora Public Schools athletes and coaches can begin training together at district facilities as of June 24, 2020, after district administration approved the return. The district is one of the last to allow interaction with coaches and athletes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

AURORA | Athletes and coaches in Aurora Public Schools no longer have to watch other school districts swing back into action, as they can now begin Thursday.

A week earlier than its original target date of July 1 — but late in relation to other districts around the metro area — districts teams can begin proper socially distanced workouts at school facilities after APS administration gave athletic director Casey Powell the OK Wednesday.

The coronavirus pandemic robbed all teams and athletes of some key preparation time for the possible return of sports in the fall, however, at least the ball is now rolling.

“We’re one of the last ones; I’ve been pushing it when the Governor loosened things up in the 1st, then Adams 12 went and then quickly Cherry Creek and Jeffco suddenly went this Monday, so did Douglas and Littleton,” Powell said.

“I owed it to my ADs to push for as soon as possible,” he added. “To much of their dismay, the process took a little bit longer to be approved and be as safe as possible.”

Powell said that all outside groups will be limited to 25 — per the current mandates from Gov. Jared Polis about large gatherings — and schools will utilize all the outdoors spaces possible to keep teams spread out. Indoor use may be possible within a week.

Training will be done in cohorts, with the same coaches staying with the same athletes in the event that anyone gets sick they are isolated.

Powell said he was able to purchase cleaning products for any equipment that is used and touched frequently as well as thermometers, which will be used to check athletes prior to their participation in workouts.

In Aurora, APS joins Regis Jesuit (June 8) and the Cherry Creek School District (June 15) in return to action.

“As I told leadership this morning, it will be nice to get back to connecting with kids,” Powell said.

Football in the district will definitely need some connecting with new faces in place as head coaches, including Robb Wetta at Gateway and TC Newland at Hinkley.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports