The State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services advises school athletic programs that swimmers don’t need to wear masks while swimming, but they should don them once they get to the pool deck.
That is among the recommendations being made for school athletic programs across the state.
Now, the Alaska School Activities Association says it’s a mandate: Wrestlers must wear masks. Runners — indoors and outdoors — must wear masks. Volleyball players must wear them, and swimmers must wear them if their faces are not underwater.
The mandate includes playing basketball, wrestling, cheerleading, hockey and indoor soccer.
Earlier this fall, players could choose to wear masks while engaged in vigorous activity, but some local school plans said athletes didn’t have to wear face coverings during exertion.
The state says leading doctors recommend them always during sporting activities, except when you are at home.
“That same strong recommendation for mask wearing goes for adults working out, running on treadmills, or exercising in other ways in indoor gyms. The exception? Swimmers can’t wear a mask when their faces are in the water (but they do need to wear one on the pool deck).”
“I am 100 percent in favor of safe distancing and universal masking,” said Dr. Bruce Chandler, chief medical officer with the Anchorage Health Department.
“Unless our face is underwater, I think we should all be wearing masks when we’re around people — except when we’re at home.” – Dr. Bruce Chandler, Anchorage Health Department
Volleyball mask rules from ASAA are an example of how far this rule goes:
- Athletes/participants not wearing cloth face coverings will not play or be allowed onthe bench.
- When mask comes off and falls to the floor – immediate whistle (for safety concerns) and a re-play will occur.
- When mask becomes loose or off:
1. if attempt is made by the player to adjust the mask to fix the problem-no whistle– play on
- if no attempt is made by the player to adjust the mask to fix the problem- whistle and side out point awarded
- if removal of the mask is intentional – whistle and side out point awarded and that player is removed from the court
The State Department of Health and Social Services says masks during matches and games will make things more fair.
“If all youth athletes wear masks, it will level the playing field and eliminate any competitive advantage attached to not wearing a mask,” said Dr. Elizabeth Ohlsen, staff physician with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.