CIAC Offers to Huddle with DPH

Future Murky for On Again, Off Again H.S. Football Season

Dave Mager
August 15, 2020 - 12:29 am
High school football in Utah-- with masks-- opened this week. The CT high school season is in doubt.

Getty Images

The unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt by players and coaches in Connecticut's high school football community.

Just in the last week, the CIAC football committee voted to delay the 2020 season until the spring, only to be overruled by the CIAC Board of Control. Wednesday, that board decided football should be played starting in September, as currently scheduled.

But after that decision by the Board of Control, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) issued guidance saying that fall's close contact sports-- football and girls' volleyball-- should be postponed until spring at the earliest.

Now, the CIAC Board of Control has invited DPH to meet on the issue next week. As of Friday night, there's no word on whether that meeting has been scheduled.

DPH Acting Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford told WTIC News this week, "Spreading aerosol droplets from person to person is more likely in certain situations with close physical distance.... It's more likely with forceful breathing or projection or yelling or shouting."

Friday, the CIAC agreed to "pause" preparations for football season and other "in-person interscholastic fall sports activity" until Aug. 24th. Officials issued this statement:

CHESHIRE, Conn. - The CIAC Board of Control met today to discuss the communication received from the Connecticut Department of Public Health yesterday.

Following today’s CIAC Board of Control meeting, the board extended an invitation to DPH to meet in the coming week to discuss its recommendations for interscholastic athletics. CIAC will look to emphasize the value of the integration of athletics with the return to education and concerns of equity and consistency between interscholastic athletics and other athletic opportunities. Based on DPH recommendations, the board took the action to pause all in-person interscholastic fall sport activity including conditioning programs which are already underway until Monday, August 24.  Coaches are encouraged to promote virtual safe contact and conditioning with their athletes during the pause so as to not lose the conditioning gains and socialization benefits made during the summer.

CIAC welcomes continued collaboration and input from experts while emphasizing that the safety and health of students is the focus of all decisions. The importance of safely conducting interscholastic athletics remains paramount. Connecticut COVID health metrics show students have been safely participating in athletics across the state throughout the summer and that participation in private or town programs would likely continue throughout the fall if interscholastic opportunities are cancelled. While outside programs have had minimal issues thus far, CIAC believes its collaboration with health experts and relationships with its member schools has lead to a plan providing the best alignment with COVID mitigating strategies and creates the best opportunity for a safe and equitable fall sports season..

CIAC has been consistent throughout the challenges presented by COVID-19 and will continue to consult with its education partners and medical experts and review positions from state leaders in an effort to create interscholastic athletic plans that align with the educational interests of our member schools and provide the safest athletic experience for Connecticut student-athletes.