Mask mandates in high school sports are tough to enforce – Press Herald

Scott Rousseau, coach of the Cheverus/Old Orchard Beach/Kennebunk/Windham girls’ hockey team, speaks with his players during a break in the action in a game on Jan. 5. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The question made Scott Rousseau chuckle. Have you seen less enforcement of the mask mandates during games this season?

“Have you seen the pictures in your paper?” said Rousseau, the coach of the Cheverus/Old Orchard Beach/Kennebunk/Windham cooperative girls’ hockey team.

Those photos capture what fans and school officials have been seeing at high school events throughout the winter season: athletes wearing face coverings in various stages of effectiveness. Sometimes, snuggly around the mouth and nose, as required. More often, with the nose exposed, or the entire mask covering only the athlete’s chin.

“To say that masks are being worn 100 percent correctly would be a gross exaggeration,” said Thornton Academy athletic director Gary Stevens. “If you want to be the mask police, you’ll be at it all night.”

Athletes say face coverings easily slip off their noses and mouths as they move and sweat during competition. Others cite mask fatigue during a second consecutive winter of competition during the coronavirus pandemic. Referees, coaches and athletic directors all play roles in trying to enforce the mask mandates – with varying degrees of success.

On Thursday, the state Department of Education reported a record number of COVID-19 cases at Maine schools during the first week of January after students and staff returned from winter break. Several high schools in southern Maine opted to go remote until after the MLK holiday weekend.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “recommends universal masking indoors in public in areas of substantial or high transmission,” including for those who are fully vaccinated. The CDC has designated all 16 counties in Maine, as well as the vast majority of counties across the nation, as high transmission during the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

Last winter, the Maine Principals’ Association mandated wearing masks for all indoor competition. This season, the MPA strongly recommends masks, but has left the decision to be made at the local level.

Before the start of this winter season, superintendents in Cumberland and York counties agreed to extend their in-school mask mandates to all extracurricular activities. Athletes in southern Maine must wear masks during competition and while on the sidelines.

Track and field athletes like Gorham senior Andrew Farr, one of the top sprinters in the state, are adjusting to wearing masks in competition for the first time. Last winter, indoor meets were held virtually, if at all. Masks were not required during the outdoor track season last spring.

Farr competed in the USM New Year’s Invitational on Dec. 30, winning the 55 and 400 meter races. The 55 is such a short race that the mask wasn’t a big factor, Farr said. In the 400, though, he knew the mask was slipping as he ran.

“I’ve really noticed it in the 200 and 400. The 55, you just go and get it over with. I kind of zone-out when I race, but (the mask) does slip. It was completely below my nose (at the finish). As long as you pull it up when you’re done, officials are OK with it,” Farr said.

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Source: https://www.pressherald.com/2022/01/16/mask-mandates-in-high-school-sports-are-tough-to-enforce/

Scott Rousseau, coach of the Cheverus/Old Orchard Beach/Kennebunk/Windham girls’ hockey team, speaks with his players during a break in the action in a game on Jan. 5. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The question made Scott Rousseau chuckle. Have you seen less enforcement of the mask mandates during games this season?

“Have you seen the pictures in your paper?” said Rousseau, the coach of the Cheverus/Old Orchard Beach/Kennebunk/Windham cooperative girls’ hockey team.

Those photos capture what fans and school officials have been seeing at high school events throughout the winter season: athletes wearing face coverings in v…….

Scott Rousseau, coach of the Cheverus/Old Orchard Beach/Kennebunk/Windham girls’ hockey team, speaks with his players during a break in the action in a game on Jan. 5. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The question made Scott Rousseau chuckle. Have you seen less enforcement of the mask mandates during games this season?

“Have you seen the pictures in your paper?” said Rousseau, the coach of the Cheverus/Old Orchard Beach/Kennebunk/Windham cooperative girls’ hockey team.

Those photos capture what fans and school officials have been seeing at high school events throughout the winter season: athletes wearing face coverings in v…….

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