CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini met virtually with Deidre Gifford, acting commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, on Monday morning to provide updates on where things stand as the CIAC continues preparing for the start of the winter sports season.
Lungarini said the meeting lasted approximately 30 minutes and also included Thomas St. Louis, the occupational health program director for the state DPH.
“I shared what we have heard from our colleagues in other states and Commissioner Gifford gave an update in terms of what (the DPH) is seeing in terms of (COVID) numbers and the climate in the state,” Lungarini said. “Hopefully, we will have some additional communication before the end of this week or early next week.”
Lungarini declined to be specific beyond that. A CIAC Board of Control meeting is scheduled for Thursday to discuss similar findings with each board member to see if preseason practice for the winter sports season can still begin on Jan. 19, as was previously announced by the CIAC on Nov. 17.
Another Board of Control meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14.
“I think right now, we are in the same place before we headed out (for the Christmas break). We set the date of Jan. 19 knowing it gives us adequate time after the holidays to get feedback from the Department of Health and the Governor’s office on how the COVID climate is in Connecticut and be ready to start on the 19th,” Lungarini said. “I was feeling optimistic heading into the holidays and continue to be.”
Gov. Ned Lamont announced at his Monday afternoon conference that the state COVID positivity rate was at 5.29 percent. Lamont said Monday’s seven-day average is at 6.6 percent.
In addition to weekly conversations with executive directors from the surrounding states every Monday, Lungarini did spend some time over the break conferring with member schools, not just about athletics, but also about the timetable for some school systems to return to a hybrid learning model.
The winter season was originally scheduled to begin on Nov. 21 with games beginning Dec. 7 and the state championship season set to conclude on Feb. 21. All youth sports in the state were also postponed until Jan. 19.
Last week, the governors of the six New England states, plus New Jersey, agreed to push the ban on interstate hockey back to Jan. 31.
If the CIAC winter season begins as planned, regular-season games cannot begin until after 10 practices are completed. Gregg Simon, the associate executive director for the CIAC, confirmed that the member schools will play no more than a 12-game regular season for basketball due to the late start.
Winter sports practices began Monday for both Maine and Rhode Island. Games are tentatively set to begin Jan. 11 in Maine and likely no earlier than Jan. 18 in Rhode Island, with the exception of wrestling, which has been moved to the spring season due to its high-risk contact, and cheerleading, moved to the Fall II season.
New Hampshire began practice on Dec. 14, as did some winter sports in Massachusetts. Wrestling, cheerleading and dance in Massachusetts have been moved to the spring season while indoor track is now in the Fall II season. Games are scheduled to begin Jan. 11 in New Hampshire.
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association voted in October to cancel its winter sports postseason.
In New Jersey, hockey practice has already begun and basketball practice is scheduled to begin on Jan. 11. Games are slated to begin on Jan. 26. Practice for boys swimming and indoor track and field are scheduled to begin on Feb. 1, while wrestling and gymnastics begin practice on March 1.
In New York, basketball, ice hockey, wrestling and cheerleading are all under the high-risk category and there is no timetable for those sports to begin practice. The winter championships have already been canceled.
firstname.lastname@example.org; @nhrJoeMorelli. Staff writer Mike Fornabaio contributed to this story.