The CIAC released its 2021 Spring Sports plan to state athletic directors and to the public Thursday morning, including dates for the state tournaments and similar COVID-19 mitigation strategies as the fall season. That means masks will not be required during play for outdoor sports, except for close contact on sidelines and dugouts. But host of COVID-19 safety strategies set by the state Dept. of Health remain.
The 2021 season will begin with training on March 28 — baseball pitchers and catchers can report March 20 — and competition will begin April 10.
The state tournaments will begin June 1 and end the weekend of June 12. This is the first CIAC-sponsored state tournament in Connecticut since fall 2019.
In consultation with the state Dept. of Health and its sports medicine committee, the CIAC announced that no masks will be required to play in any active outdoor competition, although players can use them if desired.
However, masks and adequate social distancing and sanitation strategies will be required during all other team activities, including on sidelines and dugouts and during in-game instruction and dead ball periods — any time there is close contact. The guidelines did not mandate masks during play in the batters box except for game umpires.
Boys volleyball, as an indoor sport, will be required to play masks during competition, similar to the rules followed by girls volleyball.
Boys lacrosse faceoffs rules have been changed to limit contact. Instead of traditional kneeling bicycle grips, faceoffs will be conducted with a standard neutral grip, the same rule the NCAA adopted last year.
Spectators can be allowed under rules set by the state’s Department of Economic Community Development and local school districts.
Full, 14-day quarantines will remain in place before participants can return to competition, but the CIAC also said the period could be shortened for a return to team activities if the exposed athlete follows rigid guidelines set by the Dept. of Health.
“All spring CIAC sports are classified by DPH as involving either intermittent direct contact (boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys volleyball), infrequent direct contact (baseball, softball, track and field, doubles tennis), or are activities where the nature of play is such that athletes have no direct or rare contact (singles tennis, golf),” the organization said in its release. “The CT DPH recommends that intermittent and infrequent direct contact sports “should consider adopting masking wearing, cohorting, and rule changes” when outdoors.
“The CIAC emphasizes that this plan is fluid and in a perpetual state of evaluation. COVID health metrics and data in Connecticut will continue to be closely monitored and the appropriateness of holding youth sport and/or interscholastic athletic contests can change at any time.”
State Tournament Dates
Baseball and softball finals will be June 11-12. Lacrosse finals will be June 12. Boys volleyball finals will be June 10.
Golf class championships will be held between June 7-9. The state open is TBA. Tennis class championships between May 28-June 3.
All of the sports have been given maximum schedules under typical CIAC rules. Baseball, softball, boys volleyball and tennis play 20 games or matches. Lacrosse, golf and track play 16.
The minimum games to qualify for the state tournaments in baseball, softball, boys volleyball and tennis is 10 games; for lacrosse and golf, it is eight games.
The last day to count for the 2021 seasons will be May 26 and 27 for most sports. Golf is June 2.
Championship sites and official spring sport schedules have yet to be announced.