Delaware high school athletes will keep wearing masks after DIAA vote fails

By Tim Mastro
Posted 4/19/21

DOVER — Masks will remain on Delaware high school and middle school athletes after the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors failed to pass an emergency regulation to allow them to be removed during a meeting Monday.

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Delaware high school athletes will keep wearing masks after DIAA vote fails

Posted

DOVER — Masks will remain on Delaware high school and middle school athletes after the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors failed to pass an emergency regulation to allow them to be removed during a meeting Monday.

The board members voted 6-6 on the motion to remove the masks. A majority vote was needed to send the regulation to the state Board of Education. Five board members were absent at the time of the vote. The DIAA consists of 61 high schools and 55 middle schools.

A DIAA emergency regulation requires proof of "imminent peril," something the board debated for more than two hours with its lawyer, Laura Makransky. In the end, the board could not define the imminent peril to remove language from DIAA Regulation 1011 5.6, issued prior to this school year, which requires student athletes wear face coverings at all times.

The DIAA reaffirmed this position the first week of April, when Gov. John Carney issued an order to allow low- and medium-risk sports to be played and practiced outdoors without masks. However, DIAA stated that all spring sport athletes, with the exception of golf, still should wear masks due to Regulation 1011 5.6.

The DIAA board did start the process of removing this language during a meeting April 8. But to do it through the proper channels would take until mid-June, which led to the attempt to have an emergency regulation.

Monday’s meeting was scheduled with just the lone item on the agenda, after the DIAA board was not able to find enough members for a quorum at the end of April 8’s seven-hour monthly meeting. The emergency regulation passed unanimously 9-0 at that meeting, one vote short of a quorum.

Gov. Carney’s order earlier this month for low-and medium-risk sports applies to youth and amateur sports, but the language in Regulation 1011 5.6 prevents the DIAA from following it until it is removed. Masks must be worn when not actively participating in the game or practice, per Gov. Carney’s order.

The medium-risk sports in question are ones where social distancing is not able to happen at all times or the sport uses a shared ball. For the DIAA’s spring sports, this includes baseball, softball, girls soccer and girls lacrosse. Low-risk sports are mostly individual sports, such as golf, tennis and track.

High-risk sports athletes would still have had to wear face coverings, even if the emergency regulation was able to pass, per Gov. Carney’s order. The only high-risk DIAA sports played in the spring are boys lacrosse and rugby.

Masks are required at all times for all indoor sports and activities. Masks must be worn when not actively participating in the game or practice, even if outdoors, per Gov. Carney’s order.

Coaches, referees, spectators and other staff are still required to wear masks during games, practices and team meetings, plus the social distancing requirement of 6 feet remains, except when actively engaged in practice or gameplay while on the field.

The next chance to remove the language requiring masks in specific sports for DIAA will be May 1, but that requires a combined 45 days for public comment and more possible meetings, which would come after the conclusion of the high school sports season.