First and foremost, happy Memorial Day! We wanted to take a brief moment and acknowledge all of the men and women in our association that have served and are currently serving in the armed forces. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice, we’re proud to have you as part of the DFOA family.
Second, we hope this note finds all DFOA officials and their families safe and healthy. We know this is a stressful time and there is continued uncertainty about what will happen next week, next month and next year. This includes whether there will be a 2020 Colorado high school football season and, if there is, what it will look like. This message contains the facts about the status of high school football as currently known to the Area Directors today. It will be updated every two weeks from now through the start of the football season to keep you informed. Regular updates will be posted to the website and keep in mind there may be “no updates” for a two-week period depending on the interval that new information is disseminated to us. However, as the season quickly approaches we are expecting more frequent data from the NFHS, CHSAA and CFOA.
SAFETY OF OFFICIALS AND INDIVIDUAL DECISION-MAKING:
Safety of officials is our number one priority during the COVID-19 Pandemic. CFOA Leadership is working to identify the times before and during games when football officials are at highest risk of exposure and potential measures to eliminate or reduce that risk. We expect this to be a discussion topic at the CFOA State meeting in June and more information will be provided as decisions are made. We expect any changes to be applied to all game sites and football games. As of today, the possible outcomes for the 2020 season range widely from having no season at all to a delayed start of a season, or a shortened football season. All options are being considered by national and state associations with safety as the top concern.
While CHSAA, CFOA and DFOA will all work to minimize risk, there will be some possibility of COVID-19 transmission to officials during high school football games. Risk level and comfort level are unique to every official. Ultimately, it will be up to each official to assess his or her individual risk and determine if he or she is comfortable officiating high school football games. Our goals are to make sure that DFOA officials are informed and that everyone connected with high school football is respectful of every official’s decision. Assuming we have a season, exposure to COVID-19 will be a new risk factor for those that do officiate. Please be mindful that you have adequate access to healthcare and health insurance for your individual needs. Each official is an independent contractor and DFOA, CFOA and related entities will not be able, or have liability, to cover healthcare expenses should you contract COVID-19 from officiating.
DECISION-MAKING ENTITIES AND GUIDELINES:
COVID-19 and high school sports issues are being assessed at national, state and local levels. NFHS has issued guidance for state high school athletic associations for safe resumption of sports. They are located here. Those guidelines classify each sport into either low, moderate or high risk to participants. Football is classified as a high risk sport. The guidelines suggest what community COVID-19 status and health protections are necessary to safely resume practices and games in high risk sports. No one can predict now as to when or whether Colorado, metro Denver and DFOA schools will meet the criteria necessary to play high risk sports like football.
CHSAA and CO Department of Public Health and Environment:
CHSAA has formed a Resocialization Task Force that will start meeting in early June. Information about the task force is here. The task force will advise CHSAA regarding state and federal guidelines regarding resumption of sports. Like all schools and school-related entities, CHSAA will be taking direction from and following the recommendations of the state health department. Those recommendations are also unpredictable at this time and will be influenced by the events of the next several weeks to months. As of June 1, CHSAA is lifting the moratorium on coaches conducting in person conditioning with athletes so some in person training activities will begin.
Each school district will make the final decisions regarding 2020 high school football, including whether to participate and any requirements for participation. CHSAA will work closely with the districts and approve district plans.
The Area Directors are preparing and planning for a 2020 high school football season. We have pushed back new officials training to late July/early August to avoid unnecessary training if the season is canceled. This will also maximize participation as the season gets closer and hopefully be able to have in person training.
One thing is certain – we will all need to be flexible given the changing situation and modifications that may be asked of us. Your dedication to officiating football is the type of energy that will get all of us through this difficult time. No matter what happens, we will have the opportunity to take the field and officiate high school football at some point! Hang in there!
Please feel free to contact any Area Director with questions, concerns, suggestions or comments.