As neighboring states make decisions on the start of high school fall sports, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference is taking a more cautious approach before deciding whether athletes can get back on the fields this fall.
A proposal to the state from the CIAC is expected Aug. 3 regarding whether fall high school sports can return — and if they do, what they will look like.
The CIAC will be taking its lead from Gov. Ned Lamont and the guidelines provided by the state of Connecticut.
“The fall committee has several options and we’re weighing all of those as we work towards a decision,” CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini said. “We’re communicating with departments of education, doctors and other reopening committees in the state to determine our best course of action.”
Connecticut is one of the few states that has had success containing the coronavirus recently, and that gives hope to Lungarini moving forward.
“It provides a good opportunity that they may not have in other states,” Lungarini said. “Connecticut has done a terrific job addressing the pandemic. The CIAC was the first group to make the decision to shut down and we’re among the last groups to come back. We have to remember, we’re still dealing with a pandemic. It did not go away.”
The CIAC allowed schools to begin outdoor training by teams with athletes in groups of five to 10 on July 6.
That move came three weeks after the second phase of Gov. Lamont’s state re-opening plan, and a week after the state issued a 50-page plan to help with the return to in-school education in the fall.
“The summer training has been very successful,” Lungarini said. “I have to commend athletic directors, coaches and the kids for making sure everything is being done safely. Everyone involved has done exceptional jobs. What I keep hearing from athletic directors is that the best part is seeing the joy on the kids’ faces just from getting to spend time with each other and working out. I haven’t heard one negative.”
After this period of training, football can begin practicing Aug. 17, and all other sports can start Aug. 27. The first day for fall sports competition in Connecticut is presently scheduled for Sept. 10.
Neighboring states have already made decisions about their fall sports.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association made the decision to delay to start of the 2020 fall season for scholastic sports until Sept. 21. The original start date was Aug. 24. There will be no fall regional or state championships in New York.
“We recognize this is challenging for everyone, but the decisions made at the state level are based upon data and statewide infection rates all in an effort to stop the spread of COVID and reopen responsibly,” Robert Zayas, executive director of the NYSPHSAA, told the (Albany) Times Union. “At this time, Department of Health guidance presented on July 13 prohibits interscholastic athletics across the state. The Association will continue to follow state guidance and will work collectively with state officials to ensure high school athletics will start up responsibly in the future.”
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced a plan to delay its high school football season until Oct. 2. The original plan was to begin games Aug. 28.
According to New Jersey’s Return to Play plan, high school football teams began training July 13 and continue until Aug. 28. On Aug. 29, team activities will shut down for two weeks.
Fall camp is scheduled to begin Sept. 14, followed by regular-season kickoff Oct. 2.
The initial plan is for New Jersey’s six-game regular season to end Nov. 7, leading to a shortened postseason that will run from Nov. 13-22.
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Board of Directors voted this week to begin high school fall sports Sept. 14. That is dependent on state education guidelines for reopening schools in the state.
The plan would need to be approved by the state and Gov. Charlie Baker. The MIAA will reconvene after the state releases guidance for schools to decide which sports are safe to play and how they will operate.
The Rhode Island Interscholastic League put out a statement July 9 stating that fall sports will come back in the third week of August, with regular-season games beginning shortly after.
The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association has released guidelines for its schools to set up summer training programs in hopes that in the next phase, games can be held in the fall.
Vermont has postponed the start of the fall season, but has not set a date to return to play.
States taking a different approach include New Mexico and Virginia, which have moved their high school football seasons to the spring.
Lungarini said Connecticut is monitoring the approach taken by nearby states, but the CIAC will not base its decisions on those of other states.
“We’re looking at what other states are doing, but we’re really looking at what’s best for our state,” Lungarini said. “I do talk to colleagues in New Jersey, New York and New England about what they’re doing. We have weekly calls with directors around the country to collaborate. Connecticut has been unique in the sense that we took a stand early and did a great job. We have to have the kids in Connecticut’s best interests in mind.”