Masks hang from hooks that have been placed on the starting blocks at the Smoky Hill High School pool on Dec. 2, 2020. Girls swimming is part of Season B on the Colorado High School Activities Association’s calendar, which has been pushed back from its Jan. 4, 2021, start due to the ongoing COVID-19 surge. (Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado)

AURORA | Teams in Season B of the prep sports schedule — boys and girls basketball, wrestling, girls swimming, ice hockey and competitive cheer — will have to wait longer in the new year after none of the Colorado High School Activities Association’s variance requests were approved.

According to a statement from CHSAA issued Monday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment sent a letter that cited the “all-time high” of the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for not allowing Season B to begin on its scheduled date of Jan. 4, 2021.

CHSAA has now proposed a Feb. 1 start date for Season B, which will be addressed by a meeting of Gov. Jared Polis’ COVID Response team in mid-January. Variances will not be considered before then. The start of Seasons C and D will also be pushed back.

“At this time, we do not have enough information about what disease incidence and hospitalization capacity will look like in January, and therefore are unable to make a determination regarding indoor high school athletics in Season B,” CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Rye said in the letter. “Season B high school sports would operate based on the restrictions in the level of the Dial in the county in which the school resides. For counties in Level Red, this means no indoor group sports are authorized.”

“In addition, our top goal for the new year is to support a return to in-person learning,” she continued. “Season B sports are conducted mainly indoors during the colder months, which reduces the ability to assure social distancing. This in turn may further promote disease transmission at a time when we need to ensure that students and teachers are protected and that in-person learning is the highest priority.

“We welcome an ongoing conversation regarding the indoor requests at a future date as more schools safely open their indoor facilities for students.”

The CDPHE said that 1 in 40 Coloradans are currently infections and expect a rise rise in hospitalizations in the wake of the Thanksgiving holiday.

CHSAA’s new proposed calendar — which are subject to the approval of variances — has Season B (which feature the aforementioned sports along with ice hockey) with practice starting on Jan. 25 and competition on Feb. 1, while Season C (spring football, boys soccer, field hockey, girls volleyball, gymnastics and Unified Bowling) would begin practice March 15 and competition March 22 and Season D (baseball, boys and girls lacrosse, track & field, boys swimming, girls soccer, boys volleyball, girls golf and girls tennis) would start practice May 3 (girls golf and tennis April 26) and begin to compete May 10.

The Sentinel cover story from last week (Pandemic Game Plan) took a look at some of the challenges faced by the sports that are part of Season B.

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