High School Sports

Fall Sports To Proceed With Conditioning Today, But DPH Recommends 7×7 Football, Outdoor Volleyball

St. Joseph’s Jaden Shirden runs for a first down in last year’s state championship win over Daniel Hand.

After over a week of discussions between the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and the state Department of Public Health, a decision was made last night to proceed with the fall sports season.

In a message sent out to state athletic directors from CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini, after positive discussions between the CIAC Board of Control and the state Department of Health, schools may return to conditioning activities starting tomorrow. They had been ongoing since July 6 but were halted last week as both sides tried to reach an agreement on the status of the fall sports season.

The Board of Control held a meeting last night.

However, in a letter dated yesterday and released late last night from DPH acting commissioner Deidre S. Gifford to Lungarini, concerns about playing football and girls volleyball remain.

“DPH encourages CIAC to work with their coaches, athletic directors, and board members to consider modifications to both girls’ volleyball and football that would allow them to be played consistent with the standards that define either “lower risk” or outdoor “moderate risk” sports as categorized by the National Federation of State High School Associations,” the letter read.”

DPH, in the letter, stated playing 7×7 football, without tackling or line play, or moving volleyball outdoors would allow both sports to be considered moderate risk.

The DPH “strongly recommended” the CIAC consult with its sports medicine committee to vet proposed changes prior to implementation.

“For all the reasons we have discussed with CIAC previously, DPH does not recommend that full contact high school football or indoor girls’ volleyball be played during the upcoming fall season,” the letter concludes.

Non-contact sport specific work can not begin on Saturday, in cohorts of 10, to align with National Federation of State High School Association guidelines. Conducting conditioning and sport-specific skillwork as non-contact and in small cohorts is classified as low risk regardless of the sport.

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The CIAC plans to work this week to finalize a timeline for full team activities and game play. The Board of Control determined that any fall sports that have their seasons cut short going forward will not be played again during the 2020-21 school year.

“This plan is going to be fluid,” Lungarini said. “We are going to need to continue to adjust to the health metrics and new information as it becomes available.”

Under a plan unveiled on July 31, the CIAC scheduled an abbreviated and regionalized season, beginning on Sept. 24 and running until Nov. 15. Football teams would play six regular season games, with other sports teams having 12 regular season games or meets. Teams in each sport would then have two playoff or postseason games.

The DPH 10 days ago recommended a fall season where football and girls volleyball would be moved to the spring and all other fall sports would be delayed for two weeks until after schools open.

It is uncertain if the CIAC plans to further reduce the length of seasons to fall in line with a schedule the DPH would also be comfortable with.

“We’ll continue to work this week to see when teams will be able to get back together and games can take place,” Lungarini said.

This story was updated Monday at 1:30 a.m. with the addition of information from the letter to the CIAC from DPH.

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