NCHSAA: masks are now mandatory for everyone indoors, even athletes who are midgame

BY CHAPEL FOWLER, News + Record Staff
Posted 11/12/20

As positive coronavirus cases surge across the United States, the NCHSAA on Thursday announced a significant pivot for Monday’s volleyball season: a mask mandate for everyone, athletes …

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NCHSAA: masks are now mandatory for everyone indoors, even athletes who are midgame

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Posted
Updated:

As positive coronavirus cases surge across the United States, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association on Thursday announced a significant pivot for Monday’s volleyball season: a mask mandate for everyone, athletes included.

Previously, athletes who were “actively involved in aerobic activity” didn’t have to wear face coverings during indoor skill sessions, practices and games. But Thursday’s news, first reported by HighSchoolOT, removes that exception. The change is effective immediately for all member schools.

The sport most affected is, of course, volleyball; teams across the state can start regular-season matches as early as Monday. But other indoor sports holding preseason workouts, such as men’s and women’s basketball, are also impacted by the rule change.

The NCHSAA mask mandate came during a sobering week of news for COVID-19 in North Carolina. For the second day in a row, the state set a new record for coronavirus hospitalizations; the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,279 hospitalizations Thursday.

And on Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper extended the state’s Phase 3 safety guidelines into early December, while lowering the capacity limits for indoor events from 25 people back down to 10.

That change wouldn’t affect colleges and schools, Cooper said in his news conference Tuesday, and the NCHSAA indeed confirmed Wednesday the executive order didn’t change its plans for now.

That means NCHSAA events can still accept 25 spectators for indoor volleyball matches and 100 spectators (or 30% of a venue’s stated fired capacity, if less) for outdoor cross country meets.

Before the NCHSAA's statewide mask mandate, some individual schools and school districts had already required masks for indoor competition; per the association's modified sports manual, visiting teams would have to comply with such rules if the home team's school or district had them in place.

Wearing masks during a volleyball match isn't a totally novel concept. Several NCAA Division I volleyball teams, including UNC-Chapel Hill, Notre Dame and Virginia, wore masks during their 2020 regular season.

Reporter Chapel Fowler can be reached at cfowler@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @chapelfowler.

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