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Student-athletes gear up for winter sports with CIAC COVID restrictions

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Some high school athletes in Connecticut are gearing up for the season.

On Thursday, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) announced that the winter sports season may begin on Jan. 19.

Practices can now begin for girls and boys basketball, boys ice hockey, girls gymnastics and boys swimming.

Games, matches and meets can begin on Monday, Feb 8. There will be a league level postseason from March 15-28. However, there will be no CIAC State Championship Tournaments.

Athletes who play sports deemed high risk, like wrestling, competitive cheer and competitive dance, won’t be able to compete. Those sports will be limited to small group conditioning and non-contact skill building.

“We’re still in a pandemic, and playing sports in a pandemic is still difficult,” CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini explained. “So, we need to access the various risk levels.”

Officials want all participants to wear masks. Players and officials are encouraged to change masks as needed during timeouts, mask breaks or game stoppages.

Lungarini said in the cause of an outbreak, teams will use quarantining and contract tracing protocols as well as receiving a wellness exam before returning to play.

WATCH: Glenn Lungarini talks winter sports season on GMCT

While the CIAC gave the go-ahead to the winter sports season, they decided not to go forward with spring football. The Connecticut Department of Public Health(DPH) considers football a high-risk sport.

With metrics low in the fall, the season was kicked down the road in the guise of an alternate season. But the players and coaches got hit where it hurts when the news came down that the alternate season was out.

The changes came with consideration for DPH guidelines.

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