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CIAC Meets With Department of Health; Athletes Gathered For Protest

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The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference met with the state Department of Health Thursday night to review recommendations on what to do about school sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A final decision about fall sports has not yet been made. The main purpose of the more than two-hour meeting was for the CIAC to gain a better understanding of the DPH's recommendations.

This comes after the Department of Health recommended last week that any moderate or high-risk sports, including football and volleyball, should be postponed until the spring.

As of now, all fall sports are on hold.

The CIAC feels its plan, which was originally announced in late July, is still safe.

"The position that they held in support of our plan for July 28 to August 13 changed. There has to be a reason and rationale behind that and we just want to understand that better to see if there's some common ground that we can meet. The metrics in Connecticut appear to be similar if not a little bit better over the last few weeks than they when the plan was first proposed," CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini said.

Student-athletes gathered outside the conference headquarters in Cheshire to show their support for fall sports.

Student athletes met with CIAC Thursday to express themselves as decisions are made about school sports.

Many students and parents have expressed disappointment, confusion and frustration that the CIAC’s decisions keep changing and fall sports were put on hold until Aug. 24.

CIAC pauses all fall sports a day after receiving recommendations from the Department of Public Health.

“We’ve been doing everything they’ve asked us to do with lifting, washing the weights, lifting outside, keeping a safe distance, splitting the group in half so everyone can be in a group of 10. So, as athletes we thought, we want our voices heard.,” Brady Lafferty, a senior at Southington High School, said.

“I feel like a decision should be made quick instead of playing around with the kids and getting the kids hopes up for the season,” Donell Mackey-Woodson, a senior at Southington High School, said.

He said the Connecticut Rules Committee, which includes representatives from the Department of Health, reviewed the plan CIAC approved on July 30.

“We do rely on their expertise and if their position has changed there has to be good rational behind that so we look forward to talking to them. We have a common goal of doing what’s in the best interest of kids,” he said.

Lungarini said the conference and the state Department of Health have a common goal of doing what’s in the best interest of the students.

“We want to be able to just let [student-athletes] know that we support them, no matter what the decisions are that come out of this and how the fall season moves forward, our kids deserve an opportunity to let their voices be heard and we want them to know that we’re going to support them, no matter what,” Lungarini said.

“Not being able to have a sure answer of when we're going to start is just draining for us,” Jayden Colon, of Manchester, said.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ned Lamont said more than one million COVID-19 PCR-based tests have been recorded in Connecticut and that has helped the state remain one of the few in the nation to keep the virus contained to low levels of transmission throughout the summer.

“With the numbers as good as they are in Connecticut, it can't seem to get much better than it is now and so if they can't play now, when are they going to play?” Sue Poudrier, of Amston, said.

The CIAC plan to play a condensed, regionalized schedule was changed and fall sports were put on hold until Aug. 24.

Students are being encouraged to condition at home.

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