While new Connecticut Department of Health guidelines were released Wednesday, lifting almost all COVID-related restrictions, the CIAC will meet with DPH to finalize its postseason plans, though CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini said “everything is set and ready to go.”
“COVID-19 restrictions were lifted today, but we still need to have further conversations with the state health department over the next few days for any new updates that may be forthcoming and to make sure we are on the same page,” Lungarini said. “Everything is lifted, but schools are still following COVID-19 restrictions, including wearing masks at schools until the end of the year. We also need to make sure we are aligned with the schools and their needs and protocols. The state health department guidance that was in place for sports on March 15 were scheduled to be lifter around May 17, which is where we are today. We’re just waiting to see if more updates are coming.
“We will continue to collaborate with the state health department over the next few days. Everything for us is in place and ready to go. The only real concern is locating a few neutral sites for our lacrosse tournaments.”
Fans will be allowed at all events. Masks will continue to be required by coaches and athletes, when they are not competing. Masks will still be required for athletes competing in boys volleyball, the spring’s lone indoor sport. Ticket sales will only be available online at the CIAC website to minimize contact. Lungarini said there will be no walk-up sales and no tickets will be sold at any CIAC postseason event.
“I had a very good conversation with officials at the Connecticut Department of Health when it comes to all our sports and with New Britain Health Department when it comes to track meets at Willow Brook Park,” Lungarini said. “… we don’t see any changes that are needed with our original postseason plan with the good discussions we had.”
When it comes to boys and girls track and field at Willow Brook Park, Lungarini expects overall crowd size to be low since schools can only bring athletes who qualify to compete at the Class meets and State Open. Teams won’t be allowed to bring other students on their roster who haven’t qualified to cheer on their teammates like they did pre-pandemic.
Safety, especially COVID-19 safety, is a priority. To minimize contact during meets, spectators will be allowed on one side of the bleachers and teams will sit on the opposite side of the bleachers.
Another challenge is finding neutral sites for games. Lungarini said a large number of students still aren’t vaccinated, there remains a requirement to wear masks in schools and some schools and college sites have COVID-19 protocols that prevent them from hosting events. Some schools like McMahon and Law, recently traditional neutral sites for lacrosse tournament championship games, aren’t available due to graduations. Trumbull will now host boys lacrosse championship games. A search continues for a site to play host to the girls championships.
Palmer Field in Middletown and DeLuca Field in Stratford will be used for baseball and softball championships June 11-12, respectively. Lungarini said it is still unclear if Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford will be available for earlier round games. The Yard Goats play host to Bowie June 1-6, then are on the road June 8-12.
The last date to count when it comes to qualifying for CIAC state tournament play is May 26 and May 27 for most sports with June 2 the last day for golf.