CHESHIRE, Conn. (WTNH) – The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) wants the state to lift the mask mandate for student-athletes in time for the start of winter championships on Thursday.
On Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont recommended the statewide mask mandate for students end on Feb. 28, which would leave it up to local municipalities and school districts to make their own decisions on mask requirements.
Glenn Lungarini, the executive director of the CIAC, which oversees high school sports in Connecticut, sent a letter to the Connecticut Department of Public of Health, seeking to have the mask mandate lifted on Feb. 10, when CIAC winter championships begin with indoor track and field.
The CIAC presented several rationales, saying they could keep students safe because they’d still be masked on the sidelines, on the bus, and other than when they were competing.
Lungarini said transmission traced back to high school sporting events was low.
“From what we could collect on that data. It was less than one percent,” Lungarini said.
Because some student-athletes don’t wear the masks properly over their nose and mouth while others do, the athletic director in Ledyard said removing masks from all athletes would make it a more even playing field.
“It’s a competitive advantage. For those student-athletes, for those teams that are wearing them as chin straps versus covering their mouth and nose as they’re supposed to be,” Jim Buonocore said. “So, at this point, if you remove them for everybody, you know everybody’s starting at a level playing field.”
“I think the biggest change will be the fair and equitable piece,” Buonocore said.
Officials with CIAC said as long as a mask mandate is in place, it will comply. Right now, masks will be worn during the indoor track and field championships as well as the wrestling championships soon after. Students participating in these sports, however, can take off their masks while competing because of safety reasons.
Some track and field jumping and throwing events are also exempt.
The biggest challenge so far has been compliance. Although in the eastern part of the state, most schools have been on the same page.
The CIAC said it has not gotten feedback from anyone who wants to see student athletes wear masks while competing.