In the same Jan. 8 letter that gave the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference the go-ahead to begin practice in several winter sports next week, state Department of Public Health acting commissioner Deidre Gifford made a few other recommendations that appeared in Thursday’s CIAC plan for the winter.
One recommendation, material about COVID-19 to allow parents, guardians and athletes to give informed consent to the risks of playing this winter, was incorporated along with optional language for a waiver.
Those signing say they assume all risks in connection with the athlete’s participation. The optional waiver adds that they waive the right to sue the board, the district or several specified associated people, with specified exceptions for negligence and misconduct.
It is not, CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini confirmed, a CIAC waiver; it’s “a resource for districts,” at a school district’s or board of education’s discretion.
“What can’t be lost is we are playing sports in a pandemic. Playing sports in a pandemic is not easy,” Lungarini had said earlier in an online press conference. “We do the best we can to provide a safe experience for kids, understanding that there are limitations to that. We also want our parents and student athletes to be fully informed of what those risks are.
“With DPH’s recommendation, that consent form was drafted as a template for our school districts to be able to use as a resource as appropriate within our schools.”
The form summarizes the winter schedule as approved by the CIAC on Thursday, discusses the face-covering requirement for all those taking part, goes over return-to-play guidelines and asks for signatures that parents, guardians and students understand the health and safety risks of their given sports.
The DPH also urged the CIAC to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ return-to-play guidance. Thursday’s plan includes guidance mentioning myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, as a possible side effect of COVID-19.
The guidance says athletes who’ve tested positive for the disease shouldn’t exercise until cleared by a licensed medical provider, and those with moderate (at least four days of symptoms or a hospital visit) or severe symptoms need further evaluation and more recovery time, including evaluation by a cardiologist.
DPH guidance from the Jan. 8 letter on quarantine requirements also went into Thursday’s plan, clarifying that DPH still wants athletes to refrain from taking part in athletics for a full 14 days after close contact with a known COVID-19 case.
“Both (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and DPH have made clear that the ability to end quarantine prior to 14 days is conditioned on a person’s ability to continue with daily COVID-19 screening, continuous mask use when outside of the home, as well as avoiding gatherings with people who are not in their immediate household” or others at increased risk for the disease, Gifford wrote.
“This would preclude gathering with other athletes for engagement in team sports prior to completion of a full 14-day quarantine period.”