With sports moving back outside for spring, the Minnesota State High School Sports is asking the Minnesota Department of Health to remove their mask requirement.
According to Thursday’s release, the MSHSL’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee unanimously approved a position stating that, “In all outdoor sports, masks are required to be work properly at all times, except during the times when a student-athlete is actually competing.”
The MSHSL is asking the state’s health officials to consider the position, which would have student-athletes put masks back on during any breaks, such as in the dugout between innings or following their race.
“It is critical for our member schools and participants to recognize that the state requirements and our guidance to member schools has not changed," MSHSL executive director Erich Martens said. “Yet, we appreciate the review and subsequent position of our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee on this important issue. We hope to work collaboratively with the Minnesota Department of Health to modify their guidance on the wearing of masks in our outdoor competitions.”
Minnesota state health commissioner Jan Malcolm told The Star Tribune the ideal would removing masks outdoors in combination with increased COVID-19 vaccinations and testing.
''We understand that people are eager to be able to be outside,” Malcolm said. “We've said all along that the risk is lower outside, which it is, but it's not zero.”
Minnesota has required masks in prep sports since they returned from a six-week pause following a surge in cases in November. Exceptions were made for sports like skiing and swimming.
The Associated Press reported that Minnesota is fifth in the country for new COVID-19 cases per capita in the last two weeks, according to John Hopkins University. The average number of daily new cases has increased by more than 31 percent in that time.