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Why are Michigan student athletes mandated to wear masks?

Face covering must be worn at all times by athletes training for, practicing for, or competing in an organized sport

DETROIT – In a press conference Thursday, Local 4′s Rod Meloni asked what information was being used to support the determination that masks would be required for student athletes on the field.

“For contact sports, it is recommended,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “Given where we are with COVID-19 cases across the state, it is recommended to wear a mask and, if someone is unable to, then they may not be able to participate at this time.”

The exact risk of transmission of COVID-19 during sports is currently unknown, but knowing how the virus spreads, mask use would decrease the potential spread during contact sports that involved close proximity and increased forceful breathing,

In terms of numbers and keeping coronavirus at bay, Michigan is doing well compared to other states. Being thoughtful and careful can keep us at that position.

An issue many have with masks during sports is that they’ll get damp pretty quickly -- whether they’re cloth or paper -- and a wet mask is not only harder to breath through, it’s also far less effective. It’s important to change out masks for a fresh one when sensible, or to use a fabric that wicks moisture and dries quickly.

Another potential issue is that when you breath harder, the mask will get sucked in easily. So it’s important to use a mask that has a shape made to keep them off your mouth. Some masks that have supports in them -- like the ones designed to keep the mask off lipstick -- would probably also make them more comfortable.

Executive Order 180 requires face coverings to be worn by student athletes when actively participating, except during cross country, golf, tennis, swimming and diving. The order defines active participation as when an athlete is in the game/match/meet/race/competition or is actively involved in any warm-up or cool-down activity.

Face coverings are required in football, soccer and volleyball. This includes all times during active participation and all times during non-active participation when six feet of physical distance cannot be maintained.

There are no provisions in the Executive Order for medical intolerance reasons or medical waivers and since the order came from the state, the Michigan High School Athletic Association has no legal authority to waive or modify the order.

Face coverings must be worn by coaches, medical staff, game event staff, members of the media and spectators. Broadcasters and PA announcers may remove their covering when they are actively broadcasting or announcing.

The MHSAA will attempt to assist schools in understanding these requirements, but reminds residents it has no authority to waive, ignore or modify Executive Orders for any reason.


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