The early winner in Connecticut high school fall sports season is . . . caution.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference said Friday morning it will delay the start of the season to Aug. 29 after a meeting  the previous night with state Department of Public Health officials failed to resolve differences in COVID-19 guidelines. DPH officials, anticipating a possible second wave of the coronavirus, recently recommended schools move football and indoor volleyball to the spring, weeks after the CIAC approved both sports for fall participation.

Any outbreaks linked to sports will influence how, and if, the high school fall season starts.

Multiple youth hockey players tested positive for COVID-19 after participating in the “War at the Well” youth hockey tournament played at rinks in Cromwell, Northford and Hamden in late July and early August. The DPH and health officials in New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts investigated.

The city of Danbury canceled youth sports, effective Aug. 24, because of an increase in cases.

“No human interaction is completely risk-free as human beings are the vectors of this virus and continue to be the reason for sustained transmission,” said Dr. Faiqa Cheema, assistant director of general infectious disease at Hartford Hospital. “As cases continue to rise, the safety of playing sports may need to be revisited.”

Earlier this summer, the National Federation of State High School Associations issued specific guidance for athletics, listing the potential for COVID-19 by sport.

This includes:

  • Highest risk: sports involving close, sustained contact with others, such as lacrosse, football, wrestling, dance and competitive cheerleading.
  • Moderate risk: sports with intermittent close contact or equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants, like baseball, basketball, gymnastics, ice hockey, field hockey, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.
  • Lower risk: sports allowing for social distancing and no shared equipment, including skiing, golf, swimming, running, sideline cheerleading, field events and weightlifting.

The CIAC’s Board of Control is scheduled to meet Sunday night to discuss DPH recommendations before submitting a plan for the fall sports season to the state agency.

School teams had been allowed non-c0ntact conditioning workouts since July.  The CIAC has asked the DPH if schools can resume those workouts as soon as Aug. 24.

Dr. Cheema urged players and parents to follow standard precautions against the virus whenever possible. Tuck hand sanitizer and sanitary wipes into your player’s bag and label water bottles and equipment so no one else picks them up by mistake.

“After playing, have your child wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or clean them with hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol,” she said. “Then, clean and disinfect all equipment you bring home and wash uniforms as soon as possible.”

Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care provider.

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