Youth Sports Still In Uneasy Limbo Between CIAC And Public Health Officials | Connecticut Public Radio

Youth Sports Still In Uneasy Limbo Between CIAC And Public Health Officials

Jan 9, 2021

Youth sports have been shut down in Connecticut since November, and the governing body of high school sports in Connecticut hopes to resume athletics Jan. 19 -- but there’s still no green light from the state Department of Public Health.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s board of control met Jan. 7 to talk through a potential sports restart. It approved COVID-19 mitigation strategies that’ll soon be sent to local schools.

Everything remains in a holding pattern, though, as the CIAC awaits a blessing to ramp up athletics from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Deidre Gifford, the department’s acting commissioner, isn’t giving it just yet. She and her staff are working to “thread the needle” between supporting necessary physical activity for student-athletes and preventing virus transmission in schools. She says holding youth sports in the fall -- not just public high school activities -- was problematic.

“We had a lot of children being exposed to an infected child during an athletic activity, to have students be out of school for a prolonged period because of the need to quarantine after an exposure,” she told Connecticut Public. “So that was a very big impact that we witnessed in the fall. It was a significant burden for local health departments doing the contact tracing.”

The CIAC thinks that the organized nature of its member school athletic programs -- having them submit player rosters and event schedules -- actually supports contact tracing.

It also says that in the fall, of more than 30,000 events held by member schools, only seven CIAC athletes tested positive for the virus.