Garfield Re-2 makes formal request to state high school, health officials to reconsider mask requirements
Several recent parental misgivings over athletes having to wear protective masks while playing basketball prompted the Garfield Re-2 School District on Monday to unanimously approve a formal request to state officials to reconsider their COVID-19 guidelines.
The formal request — intended for the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) — stated that parents of the district believe that mask requirements are “unreasonable” and “unnecessary.”
The district, however, still supports the requirement that individuals not competing in athletic events wear masks, according to the request.
“We’re not going to change science, we’re not going to change the research,” Re-2 board member Tom Slappey said. “But, I think, to support our student/athletes, our parents and our community … we owe it to them to make a statement, and I think that’s what we’re doing here.”
“We’re making a statement as a board of education — we do not necessarily agree with our athletes wearing masks,” he added.
According to guidelines currently in place by CHSAA, participants in Season B sports wrestling, spirits and aquatics are not required to wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. For ice hockey and girls and boys basketball, however, all participants must wear masks during live game play and on the sidelines.
The requirements follow the “level orange” dial metric implemented by Gov. Jared Polis and CDPHE. Right now, Garfield County is in level orange.
“I struggle very much with wrestlers not wearing masks and basketball players having to wear masks,” Slappey said. “And, understanding that the closeness of contact in wrestling … is much greater and I would think that the instance of spread? I just don’t see it in basketball, and I think it’s nuts.”
Meanwhile, the district itself is right now allowing up to 50 home spectators into the games. In addition, besides 12 players per team allowed in the arena, coaches, scorekeepers and referees, among others, are still being allowed in.
Board member Katie Mackley said the situation is incredibly difficult but ultimately acknowledged the potential hazards of playing with a mask on.
“I struggle with mild to moderate asthma,” Mackley said. “If someone said to me, ‘Katie, go play basketball with a mask on,’ I would really struggle.”
Last week marked the start of Season B sports for Re-2 programs and across the state, and every practice since has seen athletes wearing the required protective gear.
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