As of today, student-athletes in Connecticut will be able to restart conditioning that was underway as of July 6.
This comes after the state Department of Health gave new guidance Sunday on school sports following a meeting with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference to discuss a return to school sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CIAC says that as of Aug. 29, schools could begin non-contact sport-specific skill work and that conditioning and skill work must be non-contact and in small cohorts.
“At least it gives them an outlet right now and seeing the smiles on their faces, working hard with their friends, it’s a sense of normalcy that I think they crave,” Chris Machol, Farmington's head football coach, said.
Health officials are calling for the athlete cohort size to be reduced from 15 to 10, for practice to be outside when possible and to have enough staff to supervise the practice.
CIAC is pushing to have fall sports and their argument is that the COVID-19 infection rate is low and there's nothing to suggest that it would improve by the spring.
“Right now under Governor Lamont’s phase 2 plan for sports, high-risk competition is allowed, so if that remains in place then we’d want to understand why would CIAC sports not be allowed to play high risk but other organizations would be,” Glenn Lungarini, the executive director of the CIAC, said.
Any fall sport that is cancelled will not be played at a later time during the 2020-2021 school year, according to CIAC.
The idea of not having a season would be heartbreaking for some players.
“That would be devastating for the seniors and us not to have a season after we put in all this work over the summer,” Grace D’Amato, a soccer player from Bristol, said.
The Department of Health is recommending holding conditioning and practices outdoors if possible and to use face coverings and social distancing.
“We agree with the perspective of your medical advisors that pre-season conditioning is a critical safety component for high school athletes prior to the start of any practice activities, to both reduce the prevalence of sports-related injuries throughout the season and to offer an important period of acclimatization to prevent heat-related illnesses,” Lungarini said.
“As such, we would support conditioning activities, limited to those directed at improving athletes’ aerobic conditioning, as well as sport-specific non-contact drills for high school athletes to continue at this time for the fall sports with which CIAC chooses to go forward, the letter goes on to say.
The letter addressed guidance for football and for girls’ volleyball and does not recommend full-contact for either sport for the fall season. It also called for making modifications to lower the risk and to consult the sports medicine committee to study and vet changes.
Other than football and girls’ volleyball, the department of health agreed with CIAC’s proposal for the start of full team practices and competitions.
The CIAC this week will work to finalize the timeline for full-team activities and games and it will present a revised plan to the Department of Public Health.