Minnesota High Schools Adopt Mask Use for Sports

December 29, 2020 / Athletic AdministrationBasketballHockeySwimmingWrestling
High school sports in Minnesota will resume on January 14, but all games, matches, and meets will be completed with student-athletes required to wear masks.

The news comes from the Minnesota Department of Health’s updated guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in winter sports from the youth to the high school level, according to a report from The Minnesota Star Tribune.

Photo: Wesley Sykes / Great American Media Services

Although basketball and hockey players must play while wearing some sort of face covering, student-athletes participating in such sports as cheerleading, gymnastics, swimming and diving, and wrestling will be allowed to temporarily remove their masks in certain situations, The Star Tribune reported.

Below is an excerpt from the Minnesota Star Tribune’s story on more guidelines from the state’s department of health.

Practice pods are capped at 25 athletes. Spectators are not allowed at practice unless a child’s age, disability, or medical condition requires parental support. It is unclear whether spectators will be permitted to attend games. Concessions are not allowed to be sold at games at this time. Additional guidance pertaining to any changes to gameplay is expected.

Face coverings must be worn when practices begin Jan. 4. Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) officials had hinted that the need for full-time face coverings could become a reality. Still, the final decision drew concerns from basketball and hockey coaches.

“Masks are safer, but they are going to create their own innate problems, unfortunately,” said Willie Braziel, Columbia Heights boys’ basketball coach. “It’s going to be tougher to breathe. And it’s going to be an adjustment for players who have asthma.”

According to guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, “any cloth face covering that becomes saturated with sweat should be changed immediately.” Hill-Murray girls’ hockey coach Caesare Engstrom said she ran youth practices and found “just talking for 10 minutes saturated the mask. For players, this is going to be quite interesting to overcome.”

Winter sports were first delayed to later in November and beyond by the MSHSL to avoid potential overlap in facilities usage and athletes playing multiple sports. Then Gov. Tim Walz put youth sports on a four-week pause through Dec. 18. And then Walz extended the executive order through Jan. 4.

To read the full story from the Minnesota Star Tribune about winter sports returning to high schools, click here