Fully vaccinated students playing some winter sports that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have had to wear masks in-game—including basketball, hockey, indoor track and cheerleading—will not need to wear masks while competing after Dec. 23, according to new guidance cited Monday night by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi.
Saying he’d just received the guidance from the CIAC and state Department of Public Health en route to the Board of Education’s meeting, Luizzi said the state agencies are “making some changes.”
“It says ‘partially or unvaccinated participants have to wear their masks the whole time,’ ” Luizzi said during the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School and via videoconference.
“They go on to say wrestling does not need to wear masks, swimming and diving does not need to wear masks, again if fully vaccinated, and the same goes with cheerleading, dance and gymnastics. Wrestling was never required because of a fear about the mask itself and choking and what have you. But they are acknowledging, I think, the uptick that we are experiencing and that probably has something to do with the Dec. 23 date with this. Because our winter sports season does start in the next couple of weeks. But I think it’s a good sign. At least they are working hard to try and moderate the guidance a little bit.”
The guidance issued Monday can be found here.
It comes as the town and New Canaan Public Schools community both see a rise in COVID-19 cases.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said in a town-wide communication last Thursday that New Canaan had 27 reported COVID-19 positive cases at that point in the week for residents currently living in New Canaan, up from 21 cases for the entire week before.
“New Canaan and Connecticut are beginning to experience an uptick in cases,” Moynihan said. “This week has been our highest reported number of positive cases since the Delta variant peak in late August. The cases are due to family transmission, exposure at crowded events, private parties, and travel. The cases are across every age range.”
Luizzi during the meeting urged school families to be keep the CDC’s travel guidance in mind through the Thanksgiving holiday. It calls for unvaccinated people who travel to quarantine for seven days on returning, with a test-out after the third day. The town runs COVID-19 testing, vaccination and booster clinics for those who qualify (details here).
According to the district’s continuously updated operation plan during the pandemic, “Charting Our Course,” as of Monday there were 16 students isolating after testing positive for the virus, including 10 at South School, with another 36 students quarantining due to close contact with a positive case, including 15 at South.
“We are being very careful around the students that we do need to quarantine, recognizing that it’s a significant impact,” Luizzi said at the meeting. “We did have an entire class at South that we had to quarantine last week, and that had to do again with a positive case in that class and just making a judgment call on that one. Turned out to be the right one, because there have been a couple of cases now that have come from that classroom.”
The vaccination rates in New Canaan, including among schoolchildren, “are helping us,” Luizzi said.
“At our high school if we take a look, we really have had very few that need to quarantine,” Luizzi said. “And it’s a flip, and we said that from the beginning where last year it was the high school folks and the kids that are driving our numbers. And now because of the vaccination rates, we don’t need to do that. We have seen in the last couple of days typical patterns that we have seen before, which is family spread. So if somebody in the household has it, especially somebody younger, it’s a lot easier to pick it up in the time that you’re spending there.”