HS Association: Officials Can’t Enforce Mask Policy

Andy Berg Headshot

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association has advised its member schools that it’s not up to officials to enforce the proper wearing of masks during competition.

PIAA executive director Dr. Robert Lombardi made the comments during a Wednesday meeting, saying that officials are there to judge only the action on the court, field or mat.

The question was raised by a District 2 official, Jim Elliot, after receiving guidelines in a basketball bulletin from his district’s rule interpreter Patrick Gebhart. In the bulletin, Gebhart said that officials are not to enforce the masking rule because they do not have the authority provided by the PIAA to do so.

Lombardi said the PIAA supports the mask order issued by the state’s Department of Health.

“It’s not a choice for individuals to say ‘I’m not wearing my mask today,'” Lombardi said, according to the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. “The coach should instruct the players to put on their mask properly if that is their policy. We want to keep everybody safe, that’s why we’re not opposed to the mask rule. We just want to do it at the optimum level to make sure everyone is safe.”

Athletes can get a medical exemption with a note from a physician but are otherwise required to wear a mask.

Lombardi went on to say that he hopes to have conversations with state officials about the mandatory masking policy in the near future.

“We’re trying to present evidence to the administration where maybe it shows people on the competition surface not wearing masks like you see at other levels of competition makes sense,” Lombardi said. “But we’re not there yet.”

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