By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
To provide further guidance and clarification after the announcement of Executive Order 180 regarding COVID-19 precautions and athletics by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday, the Michigan High School Athletic Association today provided member schools with guidance on the wearing of facial coverings for interscholastic sports.
Following is an excerpt from today’s communication sent to member schools on facial coverings:
Here is a summary of current requirements as they relate to fall sports and face coverings in light of the Governor’s most recent Executive Order (EO 2020-180). It is the MHSAA’s expectation that all members comply with Executive Order 180, which was issued on September 9, 2020, and governs social distancing and facial coverings requirements for organized sports.
As of September 10:
- Face coverings may be worn but student-athletes are not required to do so while in active participation in cross country, golf and tennis. Active participation only applies when an athlete is “in” the game/match/meet/race/competition or is actively involved in any warm-up or cool-down activity. In swimming & diving, there is no requirement of face coverings while preparing to enter the water (and obviously while in the water) but the covering shall be worn at all other times when on-deck or in the facility.
- Face coverings are required in football, soccer and volleyball. This includes all times during active participation and all times during non-active participation when 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained.
- There are no provisions in EO 180 for medical intolerance reasons or medical waivers. This is not an MHSAA regulation, and thus the MHSAA has no legal authority to waive or modify this Executive Order from the Governor’s office.
- In both indoor and outdoor practice and training sessions in all regions of the state, including Regions 6 and 8, this same sport-specific guidance applies.
- Consistent with current Executive Orders, face coverings shall be worn by coaches, medical staff, game event staff, media members and spectators. Note that broadcasters and PA announcers are an exception to this requirement when that person is actively broadcasting or announcing. This allows broadcasters and announcers to remove the face covering while performing those speaking duties but should wear the face covering at all other times.
- Officials may wear face coverings on the field of play if he/she desires. Officials shall wear face coverings upon arrival at a facility, before the contest, during intermissions away from the field/court/area of play and following the contest until departure. Remember that officials have no role in enforcing face covering requirements as this is a responsibility of school administrators.
- Executive Order 180 does not define ‘facial coverings’ for purposes of organized sports. Traditional cloth masks, gaiters, affixed helmet plastic shields (100% clear – no tint) and cloth/fabric helmet attachments located inside the face mask (all of which must cover the nose and mouth) are not prohibited.
The MHSAA will attempt to assist schools in understanding these requirements but know the MHSAA has no authority to waive, ignore or modify Executive Orders for any reason.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.