Connecticut is seeing the highest COVID test positivity rates and hospitalizations it’s had in months. But with the first official high school sports games just a little over a month away, CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini said the overall plan remains the same.
“We’ll put some final things together before the season starts on the 26th (of August) if there’s some things we have to put out, but right now, we’re planning on full-time, full seasons, state tournaments and on-time starts,” Lungarini said. “We’ve been having discussions with (the Connecticut Department of Health) really throughout. Right now everything is scheduled to start on time.”
The state reported Monday 2.86 percent of COVID-19 tests came back positive over the last seven days. The percentage is the highest it’s been since May and higher than during early-August 2020. A total of 148 people were hospitalized as of Monday due to COVID-19, 32 more than on Friday.
The presence of the COVID-19 vaccines, the lower risk COVID-19 presents to teens, and most sports being played outside however, allowed a spring high school season to take place earlier this year. The 2020 fall sports season had conditioning start and stop in August and games eventually started in October, although without a formal football season.
For this year, the plan is to push forward with some normalcy.
The schedule includes football OTAs (Organized team practice activities) starting on Aug. 12 and first contact practices on Aug. 21. All other fall sports minus some boys golf programs (Aug. 16) begin the preseason on Aug, 26.
Games begin the week of Sept. 9.
Lungarini also said they’ll look at where the COVID numbers are next week and adapt if needed.
The CIAC is not mandating vaccines as a requirement to play, but Lungarini said having more athletes vaccinated would help teams get through the season.
According to the CT.Gov COVID portal, 54.6% of people eligible for vaccinations ages 16-24 are fully vaccinated, and 62.3% have received at least one shot. The numbers for ages 12-15 are 44.3% and 53.2%, respectively.
“The pandemic is still with us,” Lungarini said. “Right now, we’re trying to join the DPH in joint messaging to kids that the surest way to get through a full season and state tournaments is to have as many kids vaccinated as possible. We do encourage athletes who are eligible for vaccinations to get vaccinated.”
— CIAC Sports (@ciacsports) July 23, 2021
Lungarini said the CIAC is looking at continuing mitigation factors it had in place at the end of the spring season, such as masks for players and coaches on the sidelines but not in competition, promoting social distancing, and wearing masks during competition for the indoor sport of boys volleyball.
Last fall, schedules were abbreviated, teams were placed in pods which limited travel, and no state tournaments were held. Masks were not required during outdoor competition, except for players and coaches on the sidelines, but girls volleyball players wore masks during indoor competition.
During the winter, wrestling was canceled, indoor track was minimized to a few random meets and seasons were again shortened for basketball and hockey.
“When you’re in competition, you would not need to wear masks outdoors, but around team events, wear masks,” Lungarini said. “For indoor settings, that’s where we’re still having conversations about whether or not we would need to wear masks when playing volleyball or just around those activities.”
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