CIAC Considering Options For Spring Sports If School Resumes
Whether or not the school year resumes remains in question if not in doubt, but Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) officials are looking into every possible way to squeeze in some sort of sports season for spring sports athletes if schools reopen following the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Following an online meeting with nearly 70 school, athletic, and governmental leaders, on March 18, the CIAC reached a consensus that canceling the entirety of the spring sports season is premature, but the CIAC has indefinitely suspended the start of spring sports.
“There is a strong desire to provide student-athletes some spring athletic experience if possible. Any plan for spring sports will need to adhere to the guidelines from the governor’s office, [Connecticut] Department of Education, and health experts regarding the potential reopening of schools to establish a specific time frame,” according to a press release from the CIAC.
“These are unprecedented challenges for our schools, and it is of the utmost importance that we provide answers and a structure to support our membership and maintain the possibility of a spring sports experience for our student-athletes,” CAS-CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini stated in the release. “CIAC understands the value of providing students a spring sports experience, if possible. However, the health and safety of our communities must remain at the center of our decision making.”
The online meeting discussion emphasized that while student-athletes may want to begin preparations for a potential season that respecting the recommendations for social distancing and avoiding group activities prior to the approved time will aid in keeping athletes safe and allow for the season to begin in a timely manner if approved. The uncertainty of the timeline for school openings requires the understanding that any plans to begin spring sports will be fluid and should have the ability to reflect the different needs of different school communities.
“We want students to be hopeful that we will have some sort of spring experience for our student-athletes but that should not be received as an invitation to begin practices,” Lungarini said during a teleconference on March 18.
Lungarini addressed several questions from the media, including possible dates and extension through the end of June.
“We haven’t set any specific dates. Anything would be a consideration. We would need to examine going beyond graduation and certainly going beyond the month of June,” said Lungarini, adding that discussions would have to take place to consider how an extension of the season into late June or even July would work with a significant number of athletes also participating in summer leagues.
Athletes are required ten practice days before the start of competition, and Lungarini said there has not yet been discussion of altering that mandate which is in place for the safety of student-athletes.
At the time of the teleconference, schools were to be closed through the end of March; the closure has since been extended through at least April 20.
Regular-season games were originally scheduled to begin on April 4 with conference tournaments held in late May and state tournament games concluding in the middle of June. Whether or not tournaments would be altered is up for discussion of course pending any sort of season can take place.
“Our goal and our purpose at the end of this will be to provide the best experience as possible for our kids within the parameters that we have to operate,” Lungarini said.