Erik Patchkofsky, the New Haven Public Schools athletic director who also doubles as the director of the Floyd Little Athletic Center, isn’t concerned that the debut of the Connecticut high school winter sports season has been moved to Jan. 19.
“The bottom line is this gives our kids a chance to play, to still be able to have a season,” Patchkofsky said. “Moving to Jan. 19 is not a 100 percent negative thing, we will at least have some semblance of a season.”
Patchkofsky, calling it the New Haven Bubble, said the Floyd Little Athletic Center hasn’t been opened yet.
“We understood and planned for the fact the facility likely wouldn’t be used going into the new year,” Patchkofsky said. “We were prepared for that. We looked at the metrics a month ago and we thought the numbers were going in the right direction with what we were seeing from the Connecticut Health Department.
“We thought we were in a good place. Two weeks ago, near the end of the fall season, we were still doing well with few COVID cases in New Haven. Now, cases are skyrocketing and New Haven is in that red zone.”
Patchkofsky admitted there will be some changes when the Floyd Little Athletic Center reopens. Scheduling won’t be the same and any plans in place will need to be flexible to adjust to the ever-evolving pandemic.
In order to mitigate the virus and avoid contact in New Haven high schools, the Floyd Little Athletic Center will be home for all boys and girls high school basketball games along with Hillhouse, Wilbur Cross and Career indoor track meets.
There will also be a prioritization of who can use the facility. New Haven schools will have first priority to use the Floyd Little Athletic Center, then league games followed by outsides leagues and schools. For example, leagues outside New Haven like the FCIAC, Shoreline Conference, South-West Conference, etc. who compete in indoor track sectionals at Floyd Little Athletic Center will be scheduled after New Haven schools and the Southern Connecticut Conference are accommodated.
“We are prioritizing New Haven athletes when it comes to use of the facility,” Patchkofsky said. “This might impact indoor track sectionals early in the season because there are so many of them. But once we get later into the season I don’t think league championship meets will be impacted.
“The reason we are giving priority to New Haven athletes is because we want to isolate the basketball and track competition into one arena. That’s why I’m calling it the New Haven Bubble. It makes it a lot easier to manage the comings and goings of people at the games and meets and easier to social distance.”
Patchkofsky said he expects there will be pauses and some games postponed and moved if COVID-19 cases rise at a New Haven school or if teams scheduled to travel to New Haven need to quarantine due to the virus. The amount of people allowed into the facility also has to be determined.
Patchkofsky said he has a plan in place on how indoor track will be handled. But he won’t go public with it until after he discusses the plan with the Connecticut Department of Health.
“I have a plan in place for indoor track, but nothing is concrete and depends on any further guidelines from the state,” Patchkofsky said. “We have also looked at how they are doing things at The Armory track facility in New York.
“Overall, what makes it all a challenge is things seem to change every day with this virus. So many towns in Connecticut are in that red zone now including New Haven. If an opponent comes to New Haven from a town that is in a red zone we might have to take a pause. If this pandemic continues to evolve we will shift our planning around. Hopefully by January things will be getting better.”