As part of Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing by North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen addressed student-athletes, coaches and staff wearing masks as part of the start to the high school athletics for all indoor activities, including competition. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association issued a mask mandate that extends into competitors in indoor sports, specifically volleyball that starts next week. This includes wearing a mask while participating in competitions, not just on the sidelines.
Statement from Commissioner Tucker on the start of competition and mask mandates
“All of us have been waiting for this day for eight long months, and we are looking forward to the start of competition in volleyball and cross country on Monday. We are excited to once again be able to provide competitive learning opportunities for student athletes under the NCHSAA umbrella in North Carolina.
With the recent and continuing rise in COVID-19 numbers across the state, and upon advisement from the Governor’s health advisors, DHHS, and the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) the NCHSAA Board of Directors implemented a mask mandate for all individuals involved in indoor skill development activities as well as volleyball practice and contests. We believe that this is a necessary and safe step to control the spread of COVID-19 in our programs.
It is important to remind everyone that the NCHSAA views sports that are currently in-season differently than those that are in off-season periods. The only sports that are currently in-season are volleyball and cross country. All other sports are currently in their off-season period and may only participate in skill development sessions. Skill development sessions are not practice and all guidance relative to social distancing must be followed in skill development sessions. No recommendation has been made at this time to require the wearing of masks during Basketball practice, which may not begin officially until December 7, 2020.
Currently, after two weeks of practice, several volleyball teams across the state are in quarantine and will not start their competitive seasons on time due to COVID-19 exposure. With approximately 400 volleyball teams and nearly that number of cross country teams actively participating across the state at this time, we believe it is our responsibility to do all we can to keep this number as low as possible. The mask mandate for all indoor skill development activities is the most effective way we currently have to mitigate the risk of infection, while allowing opportunities for athletic participation to continue.
We are asking our coaches, student-athletes and administrators for their continued vigilance and cooperation in these measures, including making sure to properly social distance during skill development sessions and adherence to the mask mandate. We all must do our part. It is our hope that by taking these steps now to get COVID-19 under control in all athletic programs, that we give ourselves a chance to offer competitive opportunities in all other sports at their designated times for this school year.”