California health department releases latest return-to-play guidelines; most counties still in ‘purple’ tier

The CIF released its weekly update on COVID-19 guidelines from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for the return to athletic competition in the state.

The update shows which COVID-19 “tiers” every county in California is currently in, and what that tier means for high school sports.

There are no changes in the latest update, released Tuesday, Jan. 26. Almost every county in the state is still in the widespread “purple” tier:

The CDPH released updated youth sports guidelines on December 14 that pushed back the California high school sports season until at least Jan. 25.

(Read the full guidelines here)

Since the statewide Stay At Home order was lifted on Monday (Jan. 25), sports in the purple tier can begin to be played if districts and private schools allow them and the sport is in its designated season of sport.

For example, in the Southern Section, the only Season 1 sport that can be played in the purple tier due to the Section’s sports calendar is cross country. Districts and private schools in the Section are now working to schedule meets that meet health and safety protocols so cross country athletes can have a season. Some districts have already canceled Season 1 sports and won’t have cross country this school year however.

Every county that makes up the CIF Southern, Los Angeles City and San Diego Sections are currently in the “purple widespread” tier for COVID-19 cases. The tiered system monitors every county’s COVID-19 test positivity and adjusted case rate. Here’s how the system works, according to the California Department of Public Health:

“Every county in California is assigned to a tier based on its test positivity and adjusted case rate. At a minimum, counties must remain in a tier for at least 3 weeks before moving forward. Data is reviewed weekly and tiers are updated on Tuesdays. To move forward, a county must meet the next tier’s criteria for two consecutive weeks. If a county’s metrics worsen for two consecutive weeks, it will be assigned a more restrictive tier. Public health officials are constantly monitoring data and can step in if necessary.”

Last Tuesday, the Southern Section and LA City Section canceled postseasons for Season 1 Sports. The City Section still plans to hold its cross country championship on March 27, but that is the one exception.

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