PUYALLUP, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released new COVID-19 guidelines and requirements for K-12 grade sports.
One of the changes includes student-athletes not being required to wear masks while competing this year. However, unvaccinated students will still need to undergo COVID-19 screening.
The first official day of the football season for western Washington schools is Wednesday, with the remaining fall sports expected to start on Monday.
Under the new requirements, masks will not be required for indoor high contact sports like basketball, water polo and wrestling. However, universal masking will be required, which means students, coaches and athletic trainers will need to wear a mask when they are not competing. Indoor spectators will also be required to wear masks.
Masks will not be required for outdoor sports, with the exception of spectators.
Jim Meyerhoff, athletic director for the Puyallup School District, said coaches and athletes are ready and excited for an experience that should feel more normal this year.
“The good part is they are actually less restrictive than they were last year,” said Meyerhoff. “So, we're used to what did happen, and students performed well. They responded greatly to what was required of them. I think coaches understand it, and they are looking at it as it's really probably easier than it was last year.”
Unvaccinated student-athletes will need to go through COVID-19 screening if they want to play without a mask. However, all athletes will be required to wear masks in weight rooms, regardless of vaccination status.
"It's not going to be perfect,” said Meyerhoff. “We're going to have to deal with a few challenges, probably. Something will come up that we are not expecting, but we're ready to start [Wednesday] and the rest of the sports after that on Monday.”