MASK UP: Gov. Whitmer clarifies mask requirement for fall sports with EO requiring them for volleyball, soccer and football
Masks? Wear ‘em, unless you can stay six feed away from a competitor.
After last week’s orders from Lansing allowing fall sports to move forward, the Michigan High School Athletic Association asked for clarification on the conflicting language in Executive Orders 153 and 176, regarding the requirement of masks for competitors.
Wednesday evening that clarification came from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office in the form of Executive Order 180, which states that masks must be worn at all time for athletes — during training or competition — when they cannot maintain more than six feet of social distance between themselves and others.
Masks are not required for swimming while competing (an exception already noted), or for golf, tennis or cross country, which can maintain social distancing “except for occasional and fleeting moments,” the order says with a parenthetical reference.
Facial coverings are, however, required for football, soccer and volleyball.
The EO also notes: “Sports organizers must ensure that athletes comply with this section for each organized sporting event.”
“The COVID-19 virus is easily spread through airborne particles and can affect everyone differently. By wearing a face covering when proper distancing is not possible, athletes will be better protected from contracting the virus and spreading it to family members, frontline workers and vulnerable populations,” Gov. Whitmer said in a news release announcing the new EO. “We cannot afford to let our guard down. As we continue to fight this virus, we need to make smart and informed choices so we can beat COVID-19 together.”
When the governor opened pools and gymnasiums for organized sports in areas of the state where they’d been closed, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services was on the record recommending against contact sports. The MHSAA quickly moved to reinstate football to the fall, reversing its decision from nearly three weeks earlier.
The MDHHS cited the elevated risk associated with activities that involve “shouting, singing or breathing forcefully,” while noting that there have been 30 reported outbreaks across the state associated with athletic teams or facilities.
“We are not out of the woods yet, and COVID-19 is still a persistent threat to our frontline workers, students and families,” Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in Wednesday’s news release. “Individuals have a choice about whether or not to play organized sports. Since contact sports pose a high risk of transmitting COVID-19, MDHHS recommends that people should chose to avoid them. For those who do choose to play organized sports, we expect you to follow these strict safety measures and wear a face covering to reduce your risk and protect the health of your teammates, coaches, officials and loved ones.”
After last week’s reinstatement of football by the MHSAA and the opening of gyms and pools, many of the districts — like East Lansing, Okemos and Ferndale — that had postponed fall sports made the decision to reinstate them, as well.
• Reversed field: MHSAA will indeed play football this fall, with shortened regular season (Sept. 3)
• Gov. Whitmer allows of reopening of gyms and pools next week; MHSAA to play football despite MDHHS recommendation against contact sports (Sept. 3)
• Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says decision on reopening gyms, indoor athletic facilities coming ‘very soon’ (Sept. 2)
• Still awaiting answers from governor’s office on fate of fall sports in limbo, MHSAA admits ‘the clock is ticking’ (Aug. 26)
• MHSAA adds offseason football practice dates, hopes to have spring season set-up settled by mid-September (Aug. 20)
• MHSAA approves start of competition for volleyball, boys soccer, girls swimming in two regions; rest of state still awaiting clarification from governor’s office (Aug. 20)
• Announcement from MHSAA on fate of volleyball, swimming and soccer postponed (Aug. 19)
• MHSAA’s Uyl explains decision to postpone football: ‘What we were getting from our schools … was really to pump the brakes’ (Aug. 17)
• MHSAA pulls plug on fall football, announcing decision to move it to the spring (Aug. 14)
• College cancellations won’t force MHSAA’s hand, executive director Mark Uyl says; ‘Don’t make decisions just because somebody else did’ (Aug. 12)
• Lansing School District cancels fall extracurricular activities, including athletics (Aug. 7)
• MHSAA Representative Council gives thumbs-up to on-time start for lower-risk fall sports, tables decision on competition for high-risk sports (July 29)
• MHSAA announces plan to begin 2020-21 school year as traditionally scheduled, leaving football (for now) in the fall (July 17)
• For now, plan is still to have fall sports in the fall, MHSAA reassures its membership (July 2)
• What does the ‘MI Safe Schools’ return to school roadmap say about high school sports? Here’s a look (July 1)
• Gov. Whitmer to MHSAA: Consider moving contact sports back from the fall (June 30)
• New allowance from from governor’s office doesn’t change much: Schools allowed to resume sports activities prior to end of 2019-20 school year (June 12)
• MHSAA updates guidelines, allowing northern Michigan schools to move workouts indoors starting Wednesday (June 9)
• MHSAA adjusts to curveball of early lifting of stay-at-home order, amends guidance doc for reopening sports (June 2)
• Gov. Whitmer lifts stay-at-home order early, providing increasing clarity on ‘when’ high school sports can resume (June 1)
• MHSAA releases ‘Guidance for Opening School Sports’ document, outlining a roadmap of ‘how’ high school sports can resume in Michigan (May 29)
• Friday’s roadmap from MHSAA will give ‘how’ school athletics will return, but maybe not ‘when’: ‘We still can’t rush this’ (May 28)
• MHSAA gives schools heads up that ‘Guidance for Opening School Sports’ is coming next week (May 22)
• Q&A with MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl, after Friday’s decision to cancel remaining 2019-20 sports seasons (April 3)
• MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl explains agonizing decision to cancel remainder of winter and spring seasons; ‘My heart absolutely breaks for kids in the class of 2020’ (April 3)
• MHSAA officially cancels spring and winter sports, putting an end to the 2019-20 athletic year (April 3)
• Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces closure of Michigan schools for remainder of 2019-20, stipulates K-12 sports are suspended ‘while state of emergency … is in effect’ (April 2)
• With Gov. Whitmer reportedly set to close Michigan schools for remainder of academic year, can cancellation of high school sports be far behind? (March 30)
• ‘What now?’ and ‘What next?’: A look at how Michigan’s prep athletes are coping with the ‘pause’ of the postseason, and what it might theoretically take to ‘unpause’ (March 17)
• MHSAA extends halt of athletic activities to include practices, scrimmages until at least April 5. (March 13)
• MHSAA puts postseason on pause due to concerns over COVID-19 (March 12)
• UPDATED: MHSAA postseasons impacted by coronavirus; games put on pause, postponed indefinitely (March 11)