It’s hard to keep track of the challenges ahead when it comes to the coronavirus and opening schools. One key element is scholastic sports and the many questions about safely implementing an important part of the school experience.
It’s no wonder that last week’s plan, put out by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, drew a crowd, albeit an online gathering.
Because COVID-19 has proved so daunting in just about all aspects of life, it’s hard to say for certain how any plan will work out. One way to approach it is to hope for the best but plan for the worst. In most cases, the worst-case scenario involves shutting things down if an outbreak occurs.
“It’s a very fluid situation,” observed Steve Wodarski, the athletic director at Wilcox Technical High School in Meriden. “I can see it changing if something happens.”
There are already significant changes under the CIAC plan. In general, teams will play fewer games, closer to home. Say goodbye for now to Thanksgiving Day football at the high school level. Football teams will be limited to six games. Sports allowed to play 12 regular season games include cross country, field hockey, soccer, girls’ swimming and diving, and volleyball. Cheerleaders will stick to sideline cheers.
Programs will be able to start training on Aug. 27, with the regular season running from Sept. 24 to Oct. 30. If it’s deemed that postseason contests can be held safely, those will run until Nov. 15.
Crowds are going to have to be limited, obviously. The CIAC is giving school districts the opportunity to make their own plans following guidance from the state on gatherings.
There’s also more to come when it comes to guidelines and safety issues.
Connecticut has done well following the outbreak of the virus in the spring, but the onset of the new school year is presenting an unprecedented challenge. A truncated sports season is far from ideal, but so far the approach to bringing back school sports is reasonable and emphasizes safety. That’s the way it needs to be in this new world.