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New Haven Says Schools Will Not Hold Games, Practices With Physical Contact in Fall

Football
FILE-NBC 5 News

The city of New Haven has issued guidance on school sports and notified parents of student athletes that the city will only allow conditioning training for high risk and moderate risk sports and games or practices that involve physical contact will not be allowed.

That letter was released a couple of hours before the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference decided to pause all in-person interscholastic fall sport activity, including conditioning programs, which are already underway until Monday, Aug. 24.

“I know how important sports are to the lives of so many students and families. I can assure you that this decision was not made lightly. We must ensure the safety and health of our students and community so that we can overcome the virus and get back to normal life sooner,” New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said in a statement.

City officials said moderate risk sports fall into three categories and identified moderate and high-risk sports:

  1. Those that involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants or
  2. Those sports that involve intermittent close contact or group sports or Those sports that use equipment that cannot be cleaned between participants.

Moderate-Risk Sports

Examples of moderate risk sports as defined by the CDC guidance and under the Reopen CT guidance include: volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, water polo, gymnastics, ice hockey, field hockey, tennis, swimming relays, pole vault, high/long jump, girls lacrosse, crew with two or more rowers.

High-Risk Sports

High risk sports are those that involve close, sustained contact between athletes without significant protective barriers, creating a high risk that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.  These sports also require shared equipment and gear which can cause the virus to be transmitted.  Social distancing is also difficult to maintain during games/practices/scrimmages for these sports. 

Examples of high-risk sports as defined by the CDC and under the Reopen Connecticut guidance include wrestling, football, basketball, boy’s lacrosse, competitive cheer, and dance.

Some student-athletes told NBC Connecticut they've been practicing since quarantine and were shocked by the news.

"My coach told me that we're not going to play our senior season. That …. I don't know what we're going to do," Orlin Lopes said.

Student-athletes will be able to work on conditioning with no contact. Lopes said some seniors may get to go to showcases and try to get recruited. But for many athletes, it's a bitter loss.

"What other alternatives do you have for kids right now," Hillhouse High School football coach Reggie Lytle said.

 “New Haven Public Schools takes the health, safety, and welfare of all our students seriously. I know how sports have become an important fabric of school and community life and culture.  However, with the COVID 19 pandemic still here, we want to be confident that we educate our students in a safe way. The State and local Health Departments have determined that contact sports are not safe for our students at this juncture. I want to thank them for taking this action on behalf of our students and families,” New Haven Public School Superintendent Dr. Ilene Tracey said in a statement. 

The following letter from Health Director Maritza Bond reads:

August 14, 2020

To All Parents and Guardians of Student Athletes

The City of New Haven Health Department continues to closely monitor COVID-19 activity and trends in our community and across the country.  In collaboration with the New Haven Public Schools, this data is reviewed so that we can take whatever action is necessary to protect the health and safety of all students and staff.  Under these challenging  circumstances, it is necessary for the City to make decisions regarding the wisdom of allowing for school sporting events involving  both moderate and high risk sports to be held at this time, particularly given the recommendations of the  Department of Public Health that such activities be postponed for until Spring 2021. 

Moderate risk sports fall into three categories: (1) those that involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants or (2) those sports that involve intermittent close contact or group sports or (3) those sports that use equipment that cannot be cleaned between participants.

Examples of moderate risk sports as defined by the CDC guidance and under the Reopen CT guidance include: volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, water polo, gymnastics, ice hockey, field hockey, tennis, swimming relays, pole vault, high/long jump, girls lacrosse, crew with two or more rowers.

High risk sports are those that involve close, sustained contact between athletes without significant protective barriers, creating a high risk that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.  These sports also require shared equipment and gear which can cause the virus to be transmitted.  Social distancing is also difficult to maintain during games/practices/scrimmages for these sports. 

Examples of high-risk sports as defined by the CDC and under the Reopen Connecticut guidance include wrestling, football, basketball, boy’s lacrosse, competitive cheer, and dance.

Therefore, the City of New Haven will only permit conditioning training for high risk and moderate risk sports. Following the issued August 13, 2020 letter from the Department of Public Health recommendation letter, games or practices that involve physical contact will not be allowed at this time.

We recognize that this decision will come as a disappointment to many parents and students. We will continue to monitor the status of the pandemic and keep families updated as information becomes available.

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