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New London Youth Football teams sidelined after parent tests positive for COVID-19

New London — The New London Youth Football League has canceled practices and games for four of its five teams while awaiting test results of a player whose mother tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday.

Football director Chris Silva said the mother did not have contact with any players besides her son, who is quarantining and awaiting COVID-19 test results.

The league learned of the positive test Thursday and initiated a protocol it had put in place, canceling practices and games for teams comprised of 8, 9, 12 and 14-year-olds. Silva said he included the four teams because the player whose mother tested positive had been at their games or on their sidelines. He also notified the Bridgeport teams that played against New London the weekend before the test result.

It was not clear which school the child attends. New London Public Schools has reported only one case of COVID-19 in its student body, involving a high school student.

If the player receives a negative test result, the teams will resume practices and play against Meriden this coming weekend, as scheduled.

The New London Youth Football League, a private organization that formerly belonged to the Southern New England Youth Football Conference, joined the Connecticut Youth Football and Cheer conference this past spring. Silva said the conference is more competitive and has weight requirements that enable the players to be better prepared for high school football. The 13 teams in the Southern New England Youth Football and Cheer conference, voted unanimously not to play football this year, according to conference president Ted Koziol.

Conference members are playing tackle football with a full field of 11 players while other youth football groups and high school teams are following the guidance of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference by modifying their games and limiting spectators to reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.

Silva said the league purchased face shields that attach to players' helmets. Players' temperatures are checked before practices and games, and coaches and spectators are required to wear face masks. The teams have been given sanitizer for both hands and equipment, he said.

The league is holding its home games in other cities, since it is not allowed to practice or play full tackle football on New London city fields due to a decision of the Recreation Department. Mayor Michael Passero said he fully supported the Recreation Department's decision.

"I was asked to make a determination, and I supported the Recreation Department's initial decision that goes along with the Department of Public Health guidelines that this is a high-risk activity," said Passero.

Stephen Mansfield, executive director of the Ledge Light Health District, said Connecticut Department for Economic and Community Development guidance for reopening the state does not prohibit playing full contact sports, but the state Department of Public Health has strongly advised against it.

"We support the DPH's decision and Mayor Passero's decision," said Mansfield.


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