Season B tops Haxtun BOE discussion items
December 23, 2020
Colorado kids, including Haxtun student athletes, are pleading to Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to begin sport season B following a delay with the original January start date. The topic, which has been hot on social media platforms, was also a discussion item at the Haxtun School District Board of Education’s Dec. 15 meeting.
The basketball season, which is included in Colorado High School Activities Association season B plan, was originally slated to begin in early January. However, push back from the CDPHE and the Governor’s office, has now extended that start date by a month. Since that decision, many youth in Colorado, specifically in rural areas, have pleaded on social media platforms and via news outlets to let season B sports, which also includes wrestling, to begin on time.
Haxtun girls’ and boys’ basketball teams paired together earlier this month to make a video pleading to CDPHE and Governor Polis to let season B sports begin as scheduled. The extension of the start of season B not only pushes back the start of basketball and wrestling for many Haxtun athletes, but also season C sports, which includes girls’ volleyball.
The video created by Haxtun athletes went viral, landing several seniors on a Denver news station pleading for the start of their indoor sports seasons. Since the onset of many COVID-19 restrictions this year, seven youth from northeast Colorado rural areas have taken their own lives, sparking an outcry for concentration on mental health, especially teens, and a request to bring normalcy to not only their education but also extra-curricular activities.
Haxtun Board of Education members added the winter sports topic to discussion items at the start of their meeting last week. Superintendent Darcy Garretson said that while many school districts are not allowed to even utilize their gyms, Haxtun and Holyoke schools combined efforts to work with local and state health department officials to extended school day activities to allow practice times for not only high school and junior high sports teams, but also for younger youth who are playing basketball in Nebraska and club teams. All practices are to follow cohort rules and allows for only 10 participants on each side of the gym at a time.
Haxtun Athletic Director Rick Gerk joined board members for the conversation adding that right now things with CHSAA change so fast. “It’s confusing,” he said. Gerk said it is a difficult time for athletic directors and administration with all the changes that come weekly, even daily.
Gerk explained that junior high sports are not CHSAA sanctioned sports and those seasons can continue on so long as local health departments allow. Right now, due to Phillips County’s level on the COVID-19 dial, indoor sport competitions are now allowed. However, should things change, locally on that dial, junior high girls’ and boys’ basketball could proceeded.
The athletic director said that right now some schools within the league are ready to play those seasons and some are not, but he plans to move forward as soon as things fall into place. Gerk said he will schedule junior high contests with schools who are also ready to play and where COVID-19 restrictions are the lowest; meaning if Haxtun is scheduled to play another school in a junior high contest, and the opposing team lives in a county with a lower restriction, the game will be played away. If Haxtun is the site with lowest restrictions, games would be played in Haxtun. Gerk and administration said junior high parents and players should be ready and flexible with what the schedules may look like when sports are ready to begin.
“I want our kids to participate in as much as we can,” Superintendent Garretson said during discussions. “But you know me, I am a rule person. We have to follow the rules.”
Gerk added that for the most part, students in Haxtun have been going on with business as usual with off-season activities as rules allow. “Our administration and Darcy, they have all been supportive about that,” he said.
Tamara Durbin, board member, said she routinely sits in on calls with Governor Polis, who at this point is concentrated on getting Colorado’s students back in the classroom but said it seems the Governor does not realize that many rural schools are already back to in-person learning and have been for most of the fall semester.
Durbin also said that CHSAA seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, with the organization ready and willing to begin winter sports, however, CDPHE and Polis have put a stop to it. She said she was disappointed in the Governor’s recent meeting with Colorado school officials, pointing out that he is mostly concentrated on bigger school districts.
“We should do whatever we can do within the rules and what is good for the kids,” Garretson said with beginning extra-curricular activities.
Gerk said that the athletic department has been busy ordering masks and looking into all possible ways to get Haxtun athletes on the court in the next few weeks so that when the go-ahead is given, they are ready. “Hopefully we will have a season B sooner rather than later,” he added.
CHSAA released a statement late Monday indicating the B season would begin Jan. 18.
Earlier in the meeting, board members voted to make several calendar changes in January and February. The Board approved a proposal from the calendar committee to move two days, Jan. 11 and 25, from student contact days to teacher in-service days, and Feb. 5 from an in-person in-service day to a remote in-service day for staff. Feb. 26 was also changed to a day off for both students and staff.
The calendar committee, made up of administration and teacher representation from all areas of the building, felt teachers needed more time to work with testing data collaboratively as well as time to develop curriculum. Additionally, the changes allow less contact time with cohorts during a time of year when it is believed that effects of COVID-19 may be at their most severe. Administration also hopes to recognize the amount of work both staff and students have put in during extremely stressful circumstances.
With the changes, students will not have school on Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 18 and Jan. 25, making the entire month of January four-day weeks. Students will also not have school on Feb. 5, Feb. 15 and Feb. 26, making three of the four weeks in February four-day school weeks.
In other business, the Board of Education:
• Approved employment of Jamie Imhoff as the fifth-grade teacher;
• Hired Jayden Stieb as the head high school boys’ basketball coach.