Stamford Advocate

Lamont, CIAC call for athletes to vaccinate

- By Joe Morelli and Paul Doyle

NEW BRITAIN — Gov. Ned Lamont didn’t hold back as he opened his portion of Tuesday’s press conference at Willow Brook Park’s Veterans Stadium.

“Are you ready for some football? I’m ready.” Lamont said.

Gov. Lamont borrowed the famous line from the Hank Williams Jr. song that has become a staple on Monday Night Football telecasts each week. His point was obvious: high school football is on track to return to play in September.

With football preseason conditioni­ng already started this week, and most of the fall sports beginning on Aug. 26, Gov. Lamont, along with leaders from the Connecticu­t Interschol­astic Athletic Conference, student-athletes, and other state officials, were at Tuesday’s press conference urging student-athletes to get vaccinated.

“Come on, 12- to 15-year olds. Come on, 15- to 17-year olds, step up,” Lamont said. “We really need you to do it. It’s for your safety and it’s for your team. It’s so that nobody has to step off the field, you can stay involved and keep learning.”

Lamont issued a statewide mask mandate Tuesday for all students kindergart­en through 12th grade through the end of September.

“It was a hard decision. We were doing so well for so long,” Lamont said. “I know the masks can be a pain to some people, but given where we are, given what the spreads is right now, given the success the masks had last year ... It starts in the classroom. We want you safe in that classroom and want you in that classroom. If you’re in that classroom, you’re learning. And if you’re safe in that classroom, you’re playing volleyball or football or track and field afterwards.”

While all off last year’s fall sports had to deal with significan­t COVID-19 protocols, they all got to have

some semblance of a season. Tackle football did not, leading to both independen­t leagues and 7-on-7 teams being created.

Dr. Deidre Gifford, the acting commission­er of the Department of Public Health, announced that 63 percent of 16-17 year olds are fully vaccinated and 72 percent have one dose. In 12-15 year olds, Gifford said 46 percent are fully vaccinated and 58 percent have at least one dose.

“We have a ways to go with our 12-15 year olds,” Gifford said. “We are calling on athletes to do what they do so well, which is to be leaders on and off the field, and get vaccinated.”

Said CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini: “We’re not mandating it, but strongly encouragin­g it. We understand it is a personal decision, but we do believe it’s the best strategy to keep our kids in the classroom and on the field.”

The daily COVID-19 positive percentage was at 4.25 percent Tuesday and hospitaliz­ations now stand at 321.

“The COVID virus will be around maybe forever, certainly for several years. Look at the flu,” said Dr. Carl Nissen of the Connecticu­t State Medical Society, who serves as a medical adviser to the CIAC. “The most important thing to do is not eradicate, but to mitigate the side effects, reduce the risk for all of us. We need to make sure all of the athletes get a chance to get back on the field and all of the students get back into the classroom. The best way we know (how) right now from a medical point of view is to get the vaccine. We can’t more strongly recommend that you do that.”

The call for vaccinatio­ns comes a week after the CIAC issued its fall sports guidelines.

The CIAC is requiring masks for all indoor activities. Vaccinated students and high school staff will not be required to quarantine as long as they are asymptomat­ic but must wear a mask until receiving a negative COVID test within three to five days.

Unvaccinat­ed students who test positive will be required to quarantine for at least 10 days and a negative test or for 14 days.

Symptomati­c students must quarantine for at least 14 days regardless of vaccinatio­n status. Also, it’s recommende­d unvaccinat­ed students be tested weekly.

Masks are required for all athletes participat­ing in girls volleyball and girls swimming. Masks will be worn during volleyball competitio­n but not for swimming in the pool.

Masks are also mandated for use for indoor settings such as locker rooms. Students are not required to wear mask during outdoor activities.

The mask requiremen­t is the same for both vaccinated and unvaccinat­ed students.

The CIAC policy follows Lamont’s executive order that requires mask use in schools. The order expires on Sept. 30 and the CIAC has said it will reexamine the policy.

The regular season for the new boys golf season begins Aug. 30 while all other sports are schedule to start on Sept. 9.

 ?? Joe Morelli / Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini and Gov. Ned Lamont at a Tuesday press conference.
Joe Morelli / Hearst Connecticu­t Media CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini and Gov. Ned Lamont at a Tuesday press conference.

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