CIAC: Fall Sports Conditioning to Resume, DPH: Consider “7v7” Style Football and Outdoor Girls Volleyball

The CIAC announced on Sunday that after discussions with the CT Dept of Public Health, their Board of Control voted to restart conditioning for all fall sports.

The program, including conditioning programs, had been put on pause on Aug 14 following a meeting earlier that day to discuss a letter from the CT Dept of Health urging them to postpone football to the spring because it is classified ‘high risk’ by the National Federation of High Schools. Girls volleyball, an indoor sport considered ‘moderate risk,’ was also recommended to be moved to spring.

CIAC, who had noted the ReOpen CT Rules Committee had given inconsistent guidance for CIAC interscholastic athletics versus non-CIAC youth sport opportunities.

The CIAC announced that schools may return to the conditioning activities on Monday, August 24 and begin non-contact sport specific skill work on Saturday, August 29.

“Both conditioning and skill work are to take part in small cohorts in adherence with guidance from the National Federation of State High School Associations and the DPH,” CIAC said in a statement. “Conducting conditioning and sport specific skill work as non-contact and in small cohorts is classified as low risk regardless of the sport.”

CIAC said the Board of Control determined any fall sport that is cancelled will not be played at a later time during the 2020-2021 school year.

A letter from the Dept of Health on Sunday, Aug 23 said they do not recommend full-contact high school football or indoor girls volleyball be played during this fall.

They recommended that athlete cohorts be reduced back to the original limit of 10 (from 15 currently); that cohorting of athletes during conditioning and practices continue throughout the season, and that when practicable, that conditioning and practice activities take place outdoors in areas in spaces sufficient to allow for appropriate distancing.

“If indoor gym spaces or weight rooms must be used, they should be limited to use by a single cohort at one time and only used in compliance with the DECD sector rules for commercial gyms (i.e., use of masks, adequate spacing of machines, capacity limits, etc.),” the letter continued.

DPH encouraged CIAC to work with coaches, ADs, and board members to consider modifications to both girls volleyball and football to allow them to be played consistent with the standards that define either “lower risk” or outdoor “moderate risk” sports as categorized by the National Federation of State High School Associations. 

For example, moving girls’ volleyball outdoors or playing a “7v7” style of football that eliminates tackling and line play may be modifications that would allow both of these sports to be considered in the “moderate risk” outdoor sports category.

However, they said, “Considering that the specific rules and training recommendations for high school sports have been developed and fine-tuned over many years in consultation with sports medicine experts, DPH would strongly recommend that CIAC consult with their sports medicine committee, and give them ample time to study and fully vet any proposed changes prior to implementing rapid changes to how any high school sport is played in our state.”

The CIAC plans to work this week to finalize the timeline of full team activities and contest play.

“The board will continue to monitor the situation and the plan will remain fluid,” they added in their statement.