Vanessa Hernandez

Vanessa Hernandez competes in a Lake County High School girl’s basketball game last year. High school sports will resume this February after almost a year of pandemic related cancellations.

Lake County School District is gearing up for their winter sports season on a delayed schedule and without spectators as schools figure out how to carry on with athletics during the pandemic.

The decisions to delay Season B athletic events, including basketball, skiing and wrestling, and restrict in-person attendance came after consulting with local public health officials and student sports associations, Lake County School District (LCSD) Athletic Director Mike Vagher told the Herald.

Last month, state agencies announced recommended alterations to winter sporting events as infection rates increased throughout the state.

“Season B sports are conducted mainly indoors during the colder months, which reduces the ability to assure social distancing,” Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan wrote in a December release while explaining her department’s decision to delay student sports.

“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,” Hunsaker Ryan went on to say.

In addition to a delayed start, this winter’s sporting events will take place without spectators in an effort reduce gatherings of people that allow for the spread of the virus. While in-person attendance is not an option this season, games will be livestreamed for remote participation.

Basketball, which typically starts in the fall, is set to begin in early February, with the first Lake County High School game scheduled for Feb. 3 at Platte Canyon.

Nordic and Alpine skiing events have also been pushed back, and LCSD Alpine teams have faced challenges in finding areas to practice and compete.

In years past, teams have relied on area ski resorts as event sites, but pandemic-imposed capacity restrictions have limited athletes’ options, as any skiers on the hill count toward a mountain’s cap, Vagher said in an email.

At press time, Alpine and Nordic events for LCSD teams were not yet scheduled.

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