WALLINGFORD — The CIAC on Tuesday updated its winter sports guidance to bring scholastic sports in alignment with the national Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the Connecticut Department of Public Heath standards for K-12 schools.
Among the headlines are changes in quarantine periods, return-to-play rules and testing protocols.
Mirroring the CDC’s recent move, the CIAC is now requiring only a five-day quarantine period, down from 10 days.
CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini was not available for comment on Tuesday and area athletic directors were uniformly still absorbing the new guidelines.
“My initial reaction is a little inconclusive,” Cheshire AD Steve Trifone said. “We want to make sure we are doing this right.”
Athletic directors will have a chance to gain clarity on the new guidelines during a Zoom call with the CIAC scheduled for Wednesday morning.
As for coaches, Sheehan girls basketball skipper Mike Busillo said he’s happy with the reduction in quarantine from 10 days to five, but wishes it happened sooner.
“Better late than never,” Busillo said. “They were very slow to react to the new CDC guidelines and cost kids numerous games and practices. The CDC put out these guidelines weeks ago. That could have been three or four games. Athletes are doing all of the right things and forced to sit 17 days if they follow protocol properly and had no symptoms after two or three days. I’ve had kids cleared by their doctors last week and still can’t play.”
“Again, I'm glad the change was made, but I’m just voicing my frustrations and the frustrations of my players,” Busillo added.
The updated guidance released Tuesday detailed the protocols for student-athletes to follow if they show symptoms of COVID-19 or are identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive. Here’s the basic breakdown.Symptomatic
Student-athletes who develop any symptoms that could be associated with COVID-19 are asked to immediately isolate at home and get tested, either with a self-testing kit or at a testing site.
If the test is positive, or if no test is taken, student-athletes must continue to quarantine for at least five days. They can return on Day 6, or later, only when fever-free for 24 hours and other symptoms significantly improve. They must also wear mask around others outside of their household for 10 days.
If the test result is negative, athletes can return to team activities when fever-free for 24 hours and other symptoms have improved. They must wear a mask until all symptoms resolve.Close contacts
These protocols are for student-athletes identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case, but who never develop any symptoms.
For the fully vaccinated, no quarantine is required. Athletes can stay with their team, but must wear a mask around others outside of their household for 10 days. These athletes also have to test five days after being notified of their close contact.
Student-athletes who are not vaccinated must quarantine for five days after an exposure and test on the fifth day.
If the test result is negative, athletes can return to team activities on Day 6, or later.
If the test result is positive or if no test is taken, the quarantine must continue for at least 10 days.
Those are the basics. The guidelines released Tuesday map out more detailed recommendations on returning to play based on timing and severity of symptoms.
In the big picture, the CIAC said its return-to-play rules now reflect current American Academy of Pediatrics standards.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not returning to sports/physical activity until children or adolescents have completed isolation, the minimum amount of symptom-free time has passed, they can perform normal activities of daily living, and they display no concerning signs/symptoms. For all children and adolescents 12 years and older, a graduated return-to-play protocol is recommended. The progression should be performed over the course of a 7-day minimum,” the guidelines state.Mask rules
Just before Christmas, the CIAC updated its mask policy for the winter, requiring all basketball players, hockey playes and indoor track runners to wear them at all times. (Previously, vaccinated athletes were not going to be required to wear them while playing.)
Exceptions were made for winter activites in which wearing a mask during competition is deemed a safety issue — namely, wrestling, gymnastics, swimming and diving, and throwing and jumping events in track.
In those instances, athletes are allowed to remove masks during actual competition, but must wear them at all other times.
Under the guidelines released Tuesday, student-athletes who show COVID symptoms or are deemed a close contact can not engage in wrestling or the other winter activities “within 6 feet of others during which wearing a mask is not advised due to safety reasons” for 10 days.Spectators
The CIAC continues to leave rules and limits on spectors up to individual school districts.
Wallingford, a week after barring visiting fans and limiting home attendance to immediate family members of Lyman Hall and Sheehan athletes, has loosened its restrictions a little.
Sheehan and Lyman Hall will now welcome home and visiting parents/guardians and family to games at both high schools.
Masks are required and must be worn properly at all times. Social distancing guidelines must also to be followed.
“The spectator policy will be reviewed weekly by the administration, school health officials, as well as the Wallingford Health Department and will be adjusted as conditions improve and/or potentially worsen. Our top priority will continue to focus on the health of our students, staff, and families when attending athletic events,” the letter from the Wallingford Schools read.
Sheehan Athletic Director Chris Dailey said there was another factor for allowing opposing parents. In the unfortunate event of an injury, Dailey said, parents should be present.
“We’re going to continue to review the policy weekly,” Dailey added. “At this time we felt we had the space to allow visiting parents. We also felt it was important to have visiting parents to have the opportunity to watch their kids play as we go through the winter season.”
As of Tuesday morning, no changes have been made to the fan policy in Meriden and Southington. There are no limits, but fans must wear masks.
Likewise in Cheshire, with the lone exception of swimming. The school now has a two-fans-per-swimmer policy for meets at Cheshire Community Pool.
“I did just get some good news from our Superintendent that our infection rate is declining,” Trifone said. “Maybe we are on the downside of this thing.”