SALEM — The masking rules for businesses put in place by Gov. Kate Brown last week will apply to the playing surface, too.
The Oregon School Activities Association announced late Wednesday, May 19, that it received clarification from the Oregon Health Authority on how to handle masking for athletic events. The ruling for indoor sports is that students, staff, volunteers and spectators who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear face masks as long as the vaccination status of that individual has been checked by the school. Previous social distancing and capacity rules are still in place.
That means unvaccinated players on the wrestling mat or basketball court will have to be masked, OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber said.
“These provisions are optional for the venue operators,” the press release from the OSAA states. “School districts, charter schools, and private schools may still choose to require face coverings at these events.”
OHA guidance deems a “fully-vaccinated” individual as someone who is 14 days past receiving full vaccination — two shots of either Pfizer or Moderna, or one shot of Johnson & Johnson.
Vaccination verification is “documentation provided by a tribal, federal, state or local government, or a health care provider, that includes an individual’s name, date of birth, type of COVID-19 vaccination given, date or dates given, depending on whether it is a one-dose or two-dose vaccine, and the name/location of the health care provider or site where the vaccine was administered,” according to the press release.
Weber said each school will make the call on how they handle checking vaccinations.
“I’m not sure every school is going to check the status. They may keep everyone masked,” he said.
He added the OSAA does check on schools that they hear are not following the standards in place.
“In general the responsibility is on the school to be sure they are following regulations,” he said.
Enterprise High School Superintendent Erika Pinkerton said all three Wallowa County superintendents met last week, and said they will be going with the option to have people be maskless if they can verify vaccination. Otherwise, people at the indoors events will need to be masked.
“We felt it was important for the people of our community to have a choice,” she said. “We’ve gotta go through the motions to fine tune it. That is what (Oregon Department of Education) is putting on school districts. We’ll do our best to make sure were following guidance.”
Masks are no longer required at outdoor sporting events, though social distancing is still encouraged.
The OSAA also announced late Wednesday afternoon that its Season 4 culminating week events will be carried out in the same manner as Seasons 2 and 3 — run at the local or regional level.
Season 4 includes basketball, wrestling and swimming. Each of those sports were granted additional contests, as well. Basketball can have four additional games, swimming gets two additional dates and wrestlers get one extra date, two added weigh-ins and five more mat appearances.
June 21-27 is the culminating week for Season 4. Seasons 2 and 3 have seen regional and even statewide events put together by schools. Weber said OSAA hasn’t been overly involved in these larger events, but that it has provided support when schools had questions.
“We’re not in drawing brackets, but trying to be a resource for athletic directors, whether it’s the local tournament, or regional things, or the stuff that is even a little larger,” he said.