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Indoor winter sports athletes to wear masks, likely | Sports

Indoor winter sports athletes to wear masks, likely | Sports

The State of California has been one of the most restrictive when it comes to regulations in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Since mid-summer masks have been required to be worn indoors in virtually every type of business and activity.

In following these State Department of Public Health directives, the California Interscholastic Federation has instructed all its member schools to mandate the wearing of masks by the participants of indoor sports, in particularly this fall, volleyball.

“We’ve been getting reports from coaches who had their players wearing masks visiting school where those players aren’t,” Will DeBoard, assistant commissioner of the Sac-Joaquin Section, told the Citizen recently. “We have made it clear that when it comes to the playoffs, which we run, all players, coaches and fans will be wearing masks.”

This is, of course, going to be the situation as long as the current mask mandates remain in place, as directed by the State Department of Public Health.

“Students are required to wear masks indoors in school settings and on school-based transportation,” the CDPH wrote in a Sept. 22 directive in reopening public schools for this fall.  “This includes weight rooms, locker rooms, and school buses, even if the sport itself is played outdoors.”

Trying to oversee these mask mandates at each sports site has caused problems. And, as Elk Grove High School athletic director John Heffernan says, “now it’s a conflict.”

“People won’t want to wear them,” he said. “It’s frustrating because now we have to ask people to put their masks on and then it becomes conflict.”

To avoid the possible spread of the virus Cosumnes River College has closed the doors to fans at their volleyball games. For the benefit of parents and fans, the college live streams its contests over the school website.

Even private schools such as Bradshaw Christian must deal with asking fans to wear masks indoors. Co-athletic director Alex Williams acknowledges the same kind of issues described by Heffernan arise during the Pride’s volleyball games, but admits he’s going to have look ahead very soon to the winter sports, namely basketball and wrestling, and determine what can and cannot happen.

DeBoard says masks will be required for all basketball players, but when it comes to wrestling masks can be a choke hazard in the midst of competition.

“Wrestlers will have to do weekly (COVID-19) testing,” he said.

After a public outcry, officials with Elk Grove Unified School District will now accepting applications from outside organizations wanting to use the District’s outdoor facilities. The EGUSD Athletic Department held a Fall facility use sign-up meeting on Wednesday. They note they are only offering outdoor fields at this time to youth groups that service EGUSD students. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic EGUSD had not allowed any outside organization use of its facilities, indoor or outdoor.

All of these COVID-19 pre-cautions may be changing at this end of this month.

“CDPH will continue to assess conditions on an ongoing basis, and will determine no later than November 1, 2021, whether to update mask requirements or recommendations,” they write in the September 22 directive.

That may be good news for the indoor winter sports, basketball and wrestling. Practices for both sports begin Nov. 1.

Elk Grove Unified will begin accepting applications for use of its outdoor facilities beginning Oct. 6