Games News

MIAA to require HS basketball, other indoor winter sports to wear masks

High School Sports

The guidelines will be reassessed on Jan. 15, 2022.

MIAA masks
Newton North High Abigail Wright and Riley Raker block Needham High Ellie Streeper. The mask mandate for indoor HS athletes in the fall will continue into the winter. Photo by Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Massachusetts high school athletes participating in indoor winter sports during the 2021-22 season will have to wear masks, according to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).

The new guidelines follow the rules set for the 2021 fall season and apply to coaches, athletes, school staff, and spectators.

“This information is consistent with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education [DESE], and set forth by the Commissioner of Education,” MIAA executive director Bob Baldwin wrote in a letter to member schools. “Continue the practice of communicating with member schools that may or may not have reached the 80% vaccination threshold.”

The DESE will reassess its guidelines on Jan. 15, at which point the MIAA will decide whether to allow athletes to unmask. Until then, the guidelines remain in place at any facility whether or not it is school-affiliated.

“While masking guidelines may vary at off-campus facilities and venues, please treat practices and competitions as school events and adhere to the (state) guideline,” Baldwin wrote. “Further, be respectful to the policies and expectations set forth in school districts and local communities and continue the practice of communicating with member schools that may or may not have reached the 80 percent vaccination threshold.”

The guidelines were released at a time when positive COVID tests have once again reached a high-water mark since February. A Boston-area doctor told the rising caseloads are “alarming,” particularly as Thanksgiving approaches.

“The situation is worrisome given the rising numbers, the rising wastewater data, and all of the indoor events that are going to be happening in the next few weeks,” Dr. David Hamer said.