Alaska School Activities Association now requiring all student athletes to wear masks during activities

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Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 3:07 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - According to a statement released by the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA), the association is updating their policies around student athletes and mask wearing. This statement stems from changes in the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) policy on mask wearing and the effort of ASAA to put these updated guidelines into effect.

DHSS now recommends that all youth athletes wear masks when they’re playing or competing — even when that activity is vigorous. The exception? Swimmers and divers can’t wear a mask when their faces are in the water but they do need to wear one on the pool deck. To read the DHSS recommendation, go to this link:

"ASAA’s mitigation recommendations for practices and competitions are aimed to reduce risks, however, mitigation of all risk associated with activities is not possible. Additionally, schools are allowed the flexibility to tailor recommendations to their individual needs and circumstances.

However, as it pertains to the issue of wearing masks during practices and competition, ASAA is making this a requirement for indoor sports and is strongly recommended for outdoor sports until further notice is given. We will be working with our officials on how to enforce this requirement during competitions and expect school districts to enforce this requirement during practices and competitions.

ASAA mitigation plans for activities are only one part of a strong school mitigation plan. Other components that should be addressed when choosing to attend include but are not limited to: methods and complexity of travel, housing, meals and limiting interactions with non-essential people. DHSS is available on request to consult with schools on their mitigation plans, including aspects related to travel, and to help schools and districts better clarify the risks associated with their athletes, staff and communities."

When asked what would happen if a team or school refused to comply with these new rules Billy Strickland, Alaska School Activities Association Executive Director, said the following.

“We’re going to be working with our officials to actually address that. If it actually involves a contest we’ll tell the officials don’t call [officiate] unless they’re complying to this mask mandate right now. It’s not optional, you know it’s out there as a requirement of ASAA.” He went on to say, "We would look at that as an intentional rules violation which our bylaws allow for some pretty significant fines including potentially the school losing playoff privileges in all activities.”

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