The CIAC emphasized its recommendation that all high school athletes get vaccinated, said it would be requiring masks for just about all indoor activities, and set forth quarantine guidelines for athletes who contract COVID-19 in its 2021 Fall Sports COVID-19 guidance released this week
Football conditioning practices and boys golf practices begin Monday while the remainder of the CIAC fall sports begin practicing Aug. 26. The fall season starts Sept. 9.
Full contact football and state tournament play all fall sports return after being canceled last year.
The guidance, published Aug. 10 and sent to school administrators, comes two weeks after the CIAC and the Connecticut Dept. of Health issued a joint statement in favor of athletes getting vaccinated and relies on a full year of data and experience of handling the COVID-19 pandemic, CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini said.
“What gives us confidence is we did collect significant amount of data last year,” he said. “We have the data points that support the mitigating strategies that we put in place last year were effective.
“If we need to make and adjustments, we’ll be flexible and adapt as we need to. But we do believe, in our practices over the past year that we can safely play sports.”
Vaccinated students or high school staff will not have to quarantine as in previous seasons played during the COVID-19 pandemic, as long as they are asymptomatic and wear masks until receiving a negative COVID-19 test within 3-5 days.
Unvaccinated students who contract COVID-19, however, must quarantine for at least 10 days and test negative, or quarantine for 14 days. The CIAC also said it recommended unvaccinated students be tested weekly.
Those who are symptomatic, regardless of vaccination status, will have to quarantine at least 14 days.
“Kids being vaccinated will make a significant difference over when athletes will have to quarantine and it will keep kids in play more this year than last year because of their vaccination status,” Lungarini said.
“The best mitigation strategies we can take is to encourage those who are eligible to get vaccinated.”
In a continuation of guidance from the spring, masks will be required to participate in girls volleyball and girls swimming, regardless of vaccination status.
Masks must be worn during competition and practice for volleyball, but not for athletes in a pool while swimming. They will also be required in other indoor school settings, like locker rooms, but won’t be during outdoor play.
While Gov. Ned Lamont has not reinstated a statewide mask mandate for indoor activities, the CIAC says it was complying with his Executive Order 13A, which states masks are required for certain settings — such as schools — deemed necessary by the Dept. of Health.
The CIAC said that order is set to expire Sept. 30, after which time the mandate will be reexamined.
As for fan attendance, the CIAC said it would support local school district decisions and will determine its own state tournament attendance guidelines at a later date.