CHESHIRE, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) has released its guidelines set for high school athletes and coaches looking to get back on the playing field this summer. Athletics along with schooling came to a halt mid-march as the state’s stay at home orders went into effect.

They released a document covering virtual and in-person training, risk-factors for each sport, and coronavirus safety and reopening guidelines recommended by the CDC, the state, and the federal government.

Resocialization stages

Fall sports will look a bit different but plan to happen. The CIAC has introduced a four-phase plan as to when in-person and virtual training and events may be permitted to start this summer based on the risk factors.

The first stage is already in place. Coaches are working virtually with students from their homes.

The CIAC says student-athletes can get back on the field July 6 – the same day summer schools open across Connecticut. But that second stage will be limited to groups of 10. Coaches and students on the bench will be required to wear masks. This stage will also be centered around reconditioning the athletes.

If all goes well, the third stage will allow teams of moderate risk sports to compete. That can happen on August 3.

For the final stage, high risk sports will be permitted to start as soon as August 31.

Officials say none of the dates are certain — they’re dependent on what happens with the virus.

Dr. Carl Nissen with the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS) said what’s left is, “Just coming up with a new normal for the way fans attend a game. The schools have to be creative.”

Officials say they know students are eager to compete again, and they say this fluid plan will allow them to do so safely.

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Based on guidance from the National Federation of State High School Associations, Fall sports considered ‘high risk’ due to coming in close contact with people include football, competitive cheerleading, and dance.

Soccer is considered ‘moderate risk.’ Volleyball is also considered ‘moderate risk’ but can be considered lower risk if athletes use masks and appropriately clean the equipment.

Fall sports considered ‘low risk’ due to the ability to social distance includes sideline cheerleading and cross country with staggered starts.

The CIAC warns, however, “It is understood that the guidelines do not fully mitigate any COVID-19 risk and, therefore, school districts, parents, athletes, coaches, and officials should make individual determinations on when it is safe to return.”

Health and well-being

Not playing sports at all also has its risks, medical experts say.

“These kids need sport for their mental and physical health and we just have to figure out how to do it safely,” Dr. Rowland B. Mayor from CSMS said.

“We’d like to think we’re going to have a best-case scenario and be able to move forward with it, but we’re going to have to be able to expand and contract this plan as needed based on what happens with this disease,” Chair on the Medical Aspects of Sports for SCMS Dr. Stephanie Arlis-Mayor said.

The CIAC added, “that it is essential to the physical, mental, and social-emotional well-being of Connecticut students/youth to safely re-engage in extracurricular experiences, physical activity, and athletic competition.”

CIAC also recommends coaches to ease athletes back into shape for the sport they are playing to prevent reconditioning injuries.

Staff and students are now required to self-screen for any illnesses and high body temperature.

For more information, view the document here or below.