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Emma Counter and her colleagues on the Valley volleyball squad were permitted to start participating in non-contact sport-specific skillwork on Aug. 29 after the CIAC made its decision to resume all fall sports activities. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Will Flanagan and his Tigers’ teammates are now tentatively scheduled to play their first game of the 2020 season on Thursday, Oct. 1, instead of Thursday, Sept. 24, following a recent announcement by the CIAC. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
While high school athletes around the state are eager to get back on the field and compete this fall, there's still no guarantee that the 2020 fall sports season will take place, though the chances improved following a recent decision made by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC).
After putting fall sports activities on hold on Aug. 14, the CIAC held a Board of Control meeting on Aug. 23 and subsequently announced that all teams would be allowed to resume conditioning the next day and then begin participating in non-contact, sport-specific skillwork on
Aug. 29. Conditioning and skill work must both be held in groups of 10 people or fewer—instead of 15 as conditioning had previously been—as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CIAC also announced that any fall sport that's potentially canceled in 2020 will not be played at a later time during the 2020-'21 school year. There had been talk of moving football and/or girls' volleyball from the fall to the spring following a recommendation from the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) to do so.
More recently, the DPH recommended to the CIAC to hold volleyball matches outside and for football to be played in a 7-on-7 non-tackle format instead of the usual 11-on-11 tackle format. There are no plans current for either of those things to happen.
On Aug. 26, the CIAC updated its plan to play fall sports that it had released in late July. In the update, the CIAC announced that the first scheduled date for regular-season games is now Thursday, Oct. 1, which was pushed back from Thursday, Sept. 24 as stated in the original plan. The fall sports season was initially scheduled to begin on Thursday, Sept. 10.
The CIAC also stated that the target date to begin full team practices is now Monday,
Sept. 21, although that is contingent on Connecticut's COVID metrics remaining low with a seven-day average of fewer than 10 new cases a day per 100,000 state residents.
The CIAC will continue evaluating the state's COVID metrics and, on Friday, Sept. 18, plans to inform schools whether they will be able to progress to full team practices on Sept. 21 and, potentially, games on Oct. 1.
Under the CIAC's plan, football teams would play a maximum of six games during regular season, while other sports would play a maximum of 12 regular-season matchups from
Oct. 1 to Saturday, Nov. 7. After that, there would be some form of a non-elimination postseason tournament experience that would provide all participating teams with an opportunity to play multiple games. That is tentatively scheduled to run for two weeks through Saturday, Nov. 21.
The sports that are played during the fall season are football, boys' soccer, girls' soccer, field hockey, girls' volleyball, girls' cross country, boys' cross country, and girls' swimming and diving. In the categorization of sports by potential risk infection, adopted from the 2020 National Federation of State High School Association's guidance for opening up high school athletics and activities, football is considered a higher-risk sport; volleyball, soccer, and field hockey are moderate-risk sports; and swimming and cross country (with staggered starts) are considered lower-risk sports.
Additionally, the CIAC stated its position on spectator attendance is that fans shouldn't be allowed at interscholastic contests or practices. The final decision on fan attendance is determined by each respective school district. To read the CIAC's updated fall sports plan, visit www.casciac.org/fallplan.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already resulted in an abrupt cancellation of this year's winter season and a total cancellation of the spring campaign. The last time the CIAC held a sporting event was on March 9.
The CIAC released its original plan to play a shortened fall sports season on July 31. In that plan, football teams were slated to begin organized team activities on Aug. 17 and all teams would have been able to start non-contact skillwork on Aug. 27 in advance of full practices on
Sept. 11 and the start of the season on Sept. 24.
On Aug. 10, the CIAC's football committee voted to recommend moving the football season to the spring of 2021. Two days later, the CIAC's Board of Control cast a unanimous vote to continue with the fall season as planned for all sports. However, the day after that, the Connecticut DPH recommended to the CIAC to move football and girls' volleyball to the spring, prompting the CIAC to put fall sports on pause until
Aug. 24 and revise its plan to play.
The City of New Haven has canceled all moderate- and high-risk sports for the fall season, while Bridgeport canceled its football and volleyball seasons following the state DPH's recommendations. Danbury recently put all of its fall sports activities on hold for two weeks following a spike of COVID cases in the city.
Thirty-six states in the United States, in addition to the District of Columbia, are either modifying their fall sports seasons and/or moving certain sports to a different time of the school year. There will be no fall football in 16 of those states and the District of Columbia. There are 14 states in which no changes have been made to the fall season.