Guidelines Offered For Return To Fall Sports In Connecticut

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The organization that oversees high school sports in Connecticut released guidelines Thursday for holding a fall season as the pandemic continues.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference is asking that athletes wear masks while participating in indoor sports such as volleyball and that swimmers put them on when they are not in the water.

There will be no mask required for outdoor sports, including football, soccer, cross country and field hockey.

The CIAC is not requiring that athletes be vaccinated against COVID-19, but says those who have not had their shots will be subject to quarantine should they be exposed to the virus.

“We do believe that vaccinations give the best opportunity to play full seasons, limit quarantines and complete postseason play,” Glenn Lungarini, the CIAC's executive director, said last week.

Vaccinated athletes won't have to quarantine if they remain asymptomatic but will be required to wear a mask for 14 days or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test, which must be taken three to five days after being exposed to the virus.

Last year, the pandemic forced the cancellation of the fall football season and postponed the start of other seasons until Oct. 1.

In other virus-related news:

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MORE DEATHS

State officials on Thursday reported 11 more deaths due to the coronavirus compared with the same day last week, while the number of people hospitalized continued to increase amid spread of the delta variant.

The statewide death toll from COVID-19 is now 8,307. Officials are only releasing death information on Thursdays.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 increased by 17 to 247, the highest total since mid-May but well below the peak total of nearly 2,000 people in April 2020. Of those currently in the hospital, 190 patients have not been vaccinated or their vaccination status is unknown.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Connecticut has nearly doubled over the past two weeks, from about 282 on July 27 to 550 on Aug. 10, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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UCONN TESTING

The University of Connecticut says 94% of the approximately 11,000 incoming students who will live on its main campus in Storrs during the fall semester have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The school said 3% requested and were granted exemptions under the school's vaccine policy and the remaining 3% haven’t yet uploaded their information to school health officials.

The school said 91% of those who will be living in UConn Stamford student housing are partially or fully vaccinated. The vaccination rates range from 83% to 93% at other regional campuses, which do not have student housing, the school said.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said federal privacy laws prevent the school from disclosing to students whether their roommates are vaccinated.

But she said unvaccinated students will be tested three to five days before their arrival on campus, and again upon arrival. Those students then must participate in a modified quarantine for their first five to seven days on campus before being tested again.

The school's vaccination policy was the subject of a federal court hearing Thursday in a lawsuit brought by three students who argue that it violates their constitutional rights.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Meyer did not immediately rule, but noted that vaccinations are not compulsory.

“UConn is not forcing, the president of UConn is not grabbing any student by the arm and jabbing with a vaccine,” Meyer said, according to The Hartford Courant. “UConn is simply saying if you wish to be a residential member of this community as a student there’s a vaccination requirement or apply for an exemption.”

Meyer is expected to rule before students begin moving into their dorm rooms on Aug. 27.