Virginia high school athletes not required to wear masks in games, practices

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA (December 14, 2020) – On December 10, the Virginia High School League (VHSL) announced it “is requiring each school to follow the recommendations of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)” that students and coaches wear masks while participating in sports. This requirement was issued in response to information that the Governor’s Requirement to Wear Face Coverings would include such a provision.

However, Executive Order 72 when issued stated that Face Coverings requirements “do not apply to ... individuals exercising or using exercise equipment.”

“VHSL apologizes for any confusion created by its original release,” said VHSL Executive Director, Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “We ask the public to understand that it is the first mission of VHSL to make sure that athletics are conducted in a safe and healthy environment, and it was that desire that motivated the original decision.”

Accordingly, VHSL is rescinding its “requirement” that face coverings be worn during training and competition and is reissuing its guidance to conform with the intent of EO 72 that face masks are “strongly encouraged” but not required. Each school may continue to exercise its discretion and judgment as to safety steps within its athletics programs as it pertains to face coverings.