The MIAA Basketball Committee voted, 15-3, Wednesday to recommend the removal of the masking requirement for the 10 players and game officials on the court.
But 24 hours later, MIAA executive director Bob Baldwin issued a memo indicating that the board of directors will not vote to uphold that recommendation.
In a memo Thursday to membership, Baldwin expressed the need to avoid mixed messages when it comes to mask wearing guidelines, and maintains that the MIAA plans to remain in “lockstep with DESE’s [ Department of Secondary and Elementary Education] masking recommendations,” during a rise in COVID cases statewide.
Since DESE recently extended its mask requirement for K-12 public schools in Massachusetts through Feb. 28, 2022, Baldwin said that the association intends “to stay the course as well” regarding that initial timeline.
For basketball committee member Bob Rodgers, the athletic director and boys’ basketball coach at Whitman-Hanson, the decision is not an easy one for the MIAA or DESE regarding masks.
Rodgers said the committee simply wanted to provide its perspective on the difficulties of enforcing compliance with regard to players wearing masks while playing a cardio sport, as well as the potential health issues that it could create for student-athletes.
“Our committee certainly recognizes this is not an easy decision and I don’t think anybody is being unfair,” said Rodgers. “In light of our current [COVID] surge, it is what it is right now, but I’m hoping that if we get to February and the numbers are good, that maybe it can be revisited.”
The full memo released by the MIAA to all member schools and game officials can be found below:
‘I have learned throughout my career that the only thing worse than a lack of information is a mixed message. Yesterday, the MIAA Basketball Committee voted to recommend to the Association’s Board of Directors that basketball players and officials have the option to not wear masks during play. This recommendation is well within their purview, and in this case, serves as a recommendation only to the Board of Directors.’
-MIAA Executive Director Bob Baldwin