By: Sarah Yi — Editor-in-Chief
Governor Charlie Baker announced that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors a day after the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) released their new guidance. However, individual businesses can decide whether or not they want to require masks.
While children are outside playing sports and during recess, masks are no longer required. Effective Tuesday, May 18, Covid-19 restrictions have been loosened and the mask mandate has been lifted for athletes under the age of 18.
Having a significant impact on outdoor sports, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in a news conference that the state will drop its face mask requirement for youth athletes under the age of 18 and “masks will no longer be required for outdoor activities at public schools and early education providers.”
Raquel Castro-Corazzini at Worcester’s Division of Youth Services says “when kids are playing outside, the number of times that they end up touching their face because they’re touching their masks and they’re sweating and they’re hot actually does create more time that they’re touching their faces, which is what we don’t want,” said Castro-Corazzini.
The MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association), the governing body for competitive high school sports in Massachusetts, lifted most mask mandates previously in place on Tuesday, May 18.
On Monday, May 17, the MIAA sought input from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs before officially deciding whether or not to lift the mask mandate for outdoor spring sports such as baseball, softball, track and field, lacrosse, and tennis.
Journalist Marc Fortier says in the NBC Boston article “MIAA Releases Updated Guidance on Masks and Youth Sports”:
- Athletes on spring teams in active play outdoors are not required to wear a mask/facial covering.
- Athletes when they are on the bench or in a dugout are not required to wear a mask/facial covering.
- Athletes in low-risk sports when indoors where a distance of at least 14 feet or more is consistently maintained between each participant, are not required to wear a mask/ facial covering.
- Spectators and chaperones, coaches, staff, referees, umpires and other officials who can social distance while outdoors, are not required to wear a mask/face covering.
- Visitors, spectators, volunteers, and staff while indoors are required to wear mask/facial covering.
- All athletes participating in high school sports are considered youth and fall under youth guidelines.
For outdoor spring sports, athletes are no longer required to wear a mask, effective immediately. Along with athletes, coaches, staff, spectators, referees, umpires, and other officials are also no longer required to wear a mask as long as they maintain social distance outdoors.
Athletes and non-players must still wear a mask for indoor sports unless they are consistently at least 14 feet apart from one another.
Although MIAA dropped its mask mandate, schools can decide whether or not they want to continue requiring students to wear a mask. Without MIAA’s blessing, individual high schools would not be able to drop their mask requirements.
image from kwwl.com