CIAC Issues Guidance For Resocialization Of Interscholastic Athletics
CHESHIRE — New guidelines as posted at casciac.org applying to school athletics, include the following statement and information:
This document is intended to provide guidance on considerations for safely returning to interscholastic athletics and activities experiences. It is understood that these guidelines do not fully mitigate any COVID-19 risk and, therefore, school districts, parents, athletes, coaches, and officials should make individual determinations on when it safe to return. School districts should consult their local department of public health prior to implementing a return to in-person athletics or activities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many complex challenges to the operation of educational institutions in Connecticut... Throughout this challenging time, CAS-CIAC has maintained that when the time is right, Connecticut will play again. As the governor begins to implement reopening phases for Connecticut, it is appropriate to consider guidance for the safe resocialization of interscholastic activities. The guidance offered by CAS-CIAC is based on our association’s core values and beliefs and student-centered decision-making.
Prior to implementing the following guidance, athletic directors must seek approval from their building principal and district superintendent as the authority to open their facility lies with them. Also, in accordance with existing CIAC regulations, any participation in off-season work must be voluntary. In no way should out-of-season contact with kids be mandatory, nor should a coach assume it is part of their duty/responsibility as a coach to provide... Coaches must have approval from their athletic director prior to implementing any aspect of this guidance or out-of-season training.
CAS-CIAC Position On Resocialization
...Returning to play does not mean a return to “normal.” While resocializing to activity, we are still responsible for doing our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Any consideration of returning to physical activity and athletic competition must adhere to all requirements set forth under the executive orders of Governor Lamont, account for the health and safety of all participants, and equitably provide opportunities for all Connecticut student/youth-athletes. CAS-CIAC’s guidelines have been vetted by the Connecticut State Medical Society Sports Medicine Committee; the Connecticut Athletic Trainers’ Association (CATA); the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE); the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS); the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors (CAAD); and the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA).
Interscholastic/Youth Sports And COVID-19
Consideration of a safe return to interscholastic/youth sports must be with an understanding that COVID-19 is born out of a global health pandemic. This is a health issue, not a sport issue, nor an education issue... Our decisions should also come from a mindset that there is still much to be learned about COVID-19 and multisystem inflammatory syndrome of COVID. A safe return to interscholastic/youth activity requires a gradual phase-in approach that accounts for participant and community safety.
The sudden closure of school and recreational activities has left student/youth-athletes without structured physical activity since mid-March. A safe return to interscholastic/youth athletic experiences must account for the deconditioning which may have occurred during this prolonged departure from normal physical conditioning and skill development... In addition, acclimation to the environment should be considered. The last time student/youth-athletes engaged in structured physical activity was during the cool-weather month of March. Returning to game play scenarios in late June or early July without a structured reconditioning program could be dangerous for our young athletes. Now, perhaps more than ever, the likelihood for overuse injuries due to significant deconditioning is high.
In collaborating with the Connecticut State Medical Society Sports Medicine Committee, we feel yearly sport physicals to assess injury risk and receive health guidance from doctors are critically important. Again, the coronavirus is a health pandemic and our student/youth-athletes have not engaged in structured physical activity since mid-March. It is in the best interest of student/youth-athlete health and safety to maintain our practice of requiring annual sports physicals.
In accordance with CDC guidance, “face coverings are not intended to protect the wearer, but rather to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 from the person wearing the mask (who may not have any symptoms of disease).”
Recognizing the benefits and potential concerns of using face coverings during conditioning and physical activity, the CIAC, in collaboration with the Connecticut State Medical Society Sports Medicine Committee, recommends:
*Cloth or disposable face coverings should be worn throughout each phase when not engaging in vigorous activity, such as when sitting on the bench, during chalk talk, interacting with an athletic trainer, etc.
*Medical grade face coverings are not necessary. Cloth or disposable face coverings are acceptable.
*Face coverings should not be worn when engaging in high intensity aerobic or anaerobic workouts, distance running, or swimming.
*Plastic shields covering the entire face (or attached to a helmet) shall not be allowed during contests. Their use during practices increases the risk of unintended injury to the person wearing the shield or teammates.
*Coaches, officials, and other contest personnel should always wear cloth face coverings. (Artificial noisemakers such as an air horn or a timer system with an alarm can be used to signal in place of a traditional whistle.)
COVID-19 Advisory Committee
CAS-CIAC recommends the establishment of a COVID-19 advisory committee within each school/organization which would meet regularly before and during each athletic season. The purpose of such committees would be to maintain constant communication among leadership, address concerns as they arise, and stay informed on COVID-19 best practices around athletics. Recommended members include school physician, athletic trainer, school nurse, athletic director, one coach (appointed by the athletic director), building principal (or designee), and superintendent (or designee).
Health Screening, Testing
All staff and students are required to self-screen for any observable illness, including cough or respiratory distress, and to confirm that their temperature is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The coach or activity supervisor must verify that each participant has self-screened upon arrival... As student/youth-athletes return to physical activity, a system of contact tracing and notification should be established in the event that a participant tests positive for COVID-19. In the event that a student/youth athlete discloses that he/she has tested positive for COVID-19, administration and the local department of health should be immediately notified.
Categories Of Sports By Potential Risk
Lower Risk: Sports that can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors.
Examples: Individual running events, throwing events (javelin, shot put, discus), individual swimming, golf, weight lifting, alpine skiing, sideline cheer, single sculling, cross country running (with staggered starts).
Moderate Risk: Sports that involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants OR intermittent close contact OR group sports OR sports that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants.
Examples: Volleyball*, baseball*, softball*, soccer, water polo, gymnastics* (if equipment can’t be sufficiently cleaned between competitors), ice hockey, field hockey, tennis*, swimming relays, pole vault*, high jump*, long jump*, girls lacrosse, crew with two or more rowers in shell, 7-on-7 football.
*Could potentially be considered “Lower Risk” with appropriate cleaning of equipment and use of masks by participants.
Higher Risk: Sports that involve close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers, and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.
Examples: Wrestling, football, basketball, boys lacrosse, competitive cheer, dance.
Schools must consider social distancing requirements when scheduling contests and events for the fall. Social distancing (as required by state or local health department) will need to be maintained during transportation. (2020 NFHS Guidance for Opening up High School Athletics and Activities, 2020.) Due to concerns of transportation availability, the CIAC will work with member leagues to consider options that would reduce the strain on busing and cost of transportation. Options may include, but are not limited to, regional play, reduced game schedules, weekend jamborees, sub-varsity jamborees, parent transportation, etc.
CAS-CIAC Resocialization Stages
Any inclusion of skill development during the “high risk in-person and virtual stage” must be limited to skills that can be integrated into a physical conditioning exercise. Team practices are not permitted until the CIAC has declared a start to the fall sports season.
Movement from stage to stage will be announced by the CIAC in collaboration with the Connecticut State Medical Society Sports Medicine Committee. Tentative start dates can be found in the grid at casciac.org/pdfs/CIACResocializationofAthleticsGuidance.pdf.