VHSL to require mask during competition, practice for most sports

VHSL to require mask during competition, practice for most sports

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia High School League will require most sports to follow Virginia Department of Health recommendations advising student-athletes to wear masks at all times, including during practices and competitions, the league announced on Thursday night.

“With the support of the Governor’s office and our VHSL Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), the VHSL is requiring each school to follow the recommendations of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP),” said VHSL Executive Director Billy Haun in a press release.

Haun added that some sports would be exempt from the face-covering mandate, such as swimming and diving, wrestling, cheerleading and gymnastics.

“There is strong evidence to show that mask use prevents the spread of COVID-19. We also know that participating in sports has both physical and psychological health benefits,” the league said, citing the VDH. “Risks from the virus can be decreased if athletes, coaches, officials, and spectators follow public health guidelines.”

The VHSL also advised student-athletes not to participate if wearing a mask makes the sport difficult.

School systems that have chosen to participate in winter sports began basketball and cheerleading practices this past Monday. Other winter sports begin practices this coming Monday. Basketball games can begin on Dec. 21.

Richmond and Henrico have canceled winter sports for the school year. Hanover has suspended practices and all conditioning and will make a decision regarding winter sports by Dec. 18. Chesterfield schools began practices this week. Hopewell, Colonial Heights, Petersburg and Prince George are also participating as of now.

The VHSL also announced update guidelines for spectators, in accordance with Governor Northam’s latest restrictions. Indoor sports will be limited to 25 fans per field or court, while outdoor activities will not exceed 30 percent of the venue’s occupancy load.

Fall sports, including football, are scheduled to begin practices in February.

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