CIAC Says Department of Health Will Review New Strategies on School Sports

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The governor's chief of staff, the state Department of Health and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference met Friday to discuss how to safely hold school sports, including football, and CIAC said it has presented some new strategies intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which the Department of Health with review.

Glenn Lungarini, the executive director of CIAC, said the discussion Friday included using face shields for football, face masks, as well as the number of people who would be on he sideline, which the department will review and consider on recommendations on whether to move forward with football.

"From CIAC's perspective, we are pleased that we had the opportunity to speak in person to them about the mitigating strategies that we're putting in place. Sometimes, having those conversations and being able to dialogue through those strategies, give a better understanding of what we are attempting to do to mitigate the spread of COVID in athletic experiences," he said.

He added that the Department of Health understands the urgency and he appreciated speaking with their health experts.

The governor's chief of staff, the state Department of Health and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference are meeting this morning to discuss how to safely hold school sports and the meeting is happening this morning after the governor called for the meeting.

The meeting comes days after more than 1,000 high school athletes and their supporters rallied on the steps of the State Capitol to protest CIAC’s decision last week to cancel full-contact football for the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 1,000 people gathered at the Capitol calling for a fall high school football season.

CIAC previously decided that it would not move forward with 11-on-11 football games after hearing from the Connecticut Department of Public Health that the agency considered it a high-risk activity and would not support the playing of those games.

The CIAC announced its decision to cancel full contact football for the fall sports season. Coaches and players reacted to the news.

Many critics of the decision have argued that the state's COVID-19 infection rate is one of the lowest in the country and that other contact sports are being allowed to play this fall.

Lungarini said they want to give student-athletes every opportunity that they can.

He said they everyone who was involved in Friday's discussion are in agreement that student-athletes and coaches deserve a definitive answer and direction on where things are going.

Lungarini said the plan for next week is to be in small cohorts and the plan for Sept. 21 is for full team activities.

"We're starting to run out for football on the amount of time that is necessary for kids to properly be conditioned and acclimated to heat and to the other elements of wearing pads and everything else to safely play the game," Lungarini said.

Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday that he would like to see a football season, possibly played in February and March, and that he would be willing to sit down with the Department of Public Health and football leagues to discuss it.

“We're here to listen to ideas from CIAC, come forward with something constructive but I would like to see football played sometime, that's for sure," Lamont said.

Lungarini previously said the organization had offered options.

"There's an extensive list of mitigating strategies that we have offered and that's where we would just like an understanding of what more are you looking for that we're not offering right now? What is being done as mitigating strategies in other private sectors that are allowing those high risk sports to go that we're not offering?" Lungarini said.

On Friday, he said they had presented the Department of Health will additional mitigating strategies.

He said he was pleased with the meeting on Friday.

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