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Mass. High School Athletes Can Shed Their Masks Outdoors, Group Rules

Varsity football players wear face masks as they walk to the field for the first day of practice at Woburn High School on Feb. 22, 2021. (Elise Amendola/AP)
Varsity football players wear face masks as they walk to the field for the first day of practice at Woburn High School on Feb. 22, 2021. (Elise Amendola/AP)

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body for competitive high school sports, dropped most of its mask mandates Tuesday, a day after the state issued new guidelines for student athletes.

The MIAA said in a statement that athletes on spring teams are no longer required to wear masks outdoors, effective immediately. Coaches, officials and spectators can go maskless, as well, so long as they maintain social distance outdoors.

For indoor sports, athletes must continue to wear masks unless they are consistently spaced at least 14 feet apart, the MIAA said. All non-players must wear masks, too.

High schools and athletic conferences cannot drop their mask requirements without the MIAA's blessing. But it is possible some schools could continue to require masks even after the MIAA drops its mandate.

On Monday, the Gov. Charlie Baker administration updated its recommendations for youth and amateur sports. Under the new guidelines, masks are no longer required for youth athletes who are 18 and under while playing outdoor sports starting May 18. And all the state restrictions on youth and amateur sports will be lifted on May 29.

The MIAA said Monday it would seek input from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs before deciding whether to lift the mask mandate in sports like softball, track and lacrosse.

The organization hoped to reach a conclusion by the end of the week, spokeswoman Tara Bennett said. But the group ultimately acted faster.

Bennett noted there is still plenty of time to sort out any restrictions before state tournaments begin in a few weeks.

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Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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