The return of school sports remains up in the air and the picture won't get much clearer until the province enters stage 3 of its recovery plan.

Even then, sports officials will have to reviewwhat will be allowed in consultation with school and health officials.

Additionally, the final say is in the hands of school divisions and schools as to whether they'll allow their athletes to participate.

Alberta Schools' Athletic Association (ASAA) executive director Jon Paton says there's nothing concrete yet on return to play but says it appears the provincial golf championship has the best chance to proceed. Cross-country may also be possible, because of there's several different ways it can be conducted.

He says football and volleyball will prove to be the most challenging to relaunch.

"The football one is obviously challenging because of the number of players and coaches. Even a team like Cochrane Cobras will carry a squad including athletes and coaches of 60 or more people, and that doesn't fit within the current cohort of 50."

In the meantime they are working in the background developing best practices.

"We'll wait and see what sort of decision comes down from the government regarding stage three, and how flexible they are on that."  

"We'll remain hopefully but at the same time realistic about our expectations."

Golf, cross-country, volleyball, and football are first ASAA sports out of the gate in the school year.

Cochrane is known for its high school athletics, and regularly have individuals and teams advance to all four of these provincials. 

The outbreak of COVID-19 came in the midst of zone playoffs for basketball in mid-March that were cancelled midstream. That same day, the provincial wrestling championship was snipped.

Paton says it was a difficult decision to make.

"It was the right decision because a week after the wrestling provincials were  to be held it was discovered there were three kids in Calgary Catholic who had tested positive for CVID-19 and the wrestling championships were suppose to be held in Calgary with 300 very close bodies and lots of spectators."

Paton says its been a hectic time for the organization. Meetings were stepped up and they've been contacting nationally and internationally to share and update return to sport strategies. They've also relied on provincial and national bodies of individual sports for their expertise. All strategies work within perimeters established by Alberta Health Services officials, with whom they stay in close contact.

He says general guidelines for safe return to play have been created but not released as of yet.

"We'll be meeting as an executive sometime in the next week to discuss scenario one, but it doesn't change a lot of things for us until we know about the stages of relaunch."

On their website they have also been providing additional information and recently completed a survey of teachers, coaches and athletes.

He says the 2,500 who responded sent a clear message.

"One of the key aspects that came out was that our coaches and principals overwhelming don't want to see us change the nature of how sports is conducted. They don't want us to change from 12-man football to a smaller format, or basketball from 5-on-5 to 3-on-3. So they want us to stay true to our sports."

The Alberta Schools’Athletic Association is a voluntary, nonprofit organization that has been established to coordinate a program of worthwhile athletic activities for the young people in an educational setting.

The membership, currently 373 high schools, ultimately determines the policy of the association through representation on the provincial Board of Governors.