NYSPHSAA memo clarifies state guidance: Student-athletes must wear masks

Classroom Progress Report

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR) — Bishop Ludden’s volleyball team has been wearing masks while playing since last year.

“The kids have made a pretty good adjustment to that,” said Bishop Ludden Head Volleyball Coach John Buskey. “Nobody likes it, if we’re honest. We would love to see the masks go away.”

Masks won’t be going away anytime soon. This week, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) clarified guidance from the state health department in a memo.

It mandates that everyone including students and visitors wear a mask while indoors regardless of vaccination status. It also says if it’s not possible for an athlete to wear a mask and they cannot maintain six foot distancing, then they should not participate.

“I wasn’t surprised to see it come down. Some of the other sports—volleyball, we’re actually somewhat distanced most of the time anyway,” Buskey explained, “Mask-wearing doesn’t always make sense. In some other sports where you’re close, like in basketball, it may make a little more sense.”

Coach Buskey said he wishes the state guidance included considerations for students with medical conditions like asthma. “Especially if they have exercise-induced asthma where they just need to have the ability to breathe,” Buskey said. “In volleyball, it’s really home court rules as far as how much it’s enforced or not enforced. You see, some of the masks dropping down around the chins most the kids now are at least good about covering their mouths with the masks

Buskey said he will continue to advocate for students. He hopes the state will eventually adjust the guidance for medical exemptions and even tailor it to individual sports.

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