With the fall season in full swing and high school athletes back to competing in front of packed crowds, sports look and feel somewhat normal around here.
In Steele County, masks are not required in schools or at athletic events. But that’s not the case everywhere.
Rochester, Austin, Northfield and Dover-Eyota all require masks on school property, bringing masks back into the daily lives of their students and for local and visiting sports fans.
While the mask mandates focus on ensuring student safety during school hours, they also impact indoor sporting events.
The Blooming Prairie volleyball team and its fans found that out last week in their game against Dover-Eyota.
“Fans and coaches had to wear masks. The players didn’t [have to wear masks] when they were playing and were supposed to on the bench, but the D-E girls weren’t, so our girls didn’t either,” said Blooming Prairie head coach Jennifer Wayne.
In Northfield, school policy requires athletes and coaches to wear masks while on the sidelines of indoor events and in all campus buildings.
For fans, masks are strongly recommended but not required.
Northfield Public Schools Superintendent Matt Hillmann said the district has received positive and negative feedback on the mandate but said he believes the decision is the right one to protect the students and ensure that athletic competition continues without any hitches.
Just last week, the Austin school district approved a mask mandate.
Even though our local schools don’t require masks – in school or at sporting events, fans should be prepared to don a mask when attending out-of-town games.
If you are not a fan of masks, I know these mandates can put a wrench in some of your plans for attending sporting events.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of wearing masks at sporting events – or in public, for that matter. However, I can understand and sympathize with the educators who are bringing back the policies.
Their job is to protect students.
In the end, the only reason for bringing back mask mandates is to try and neutralize the spread of a disease that we have struggled with for some time now.
On the bright side, there has been no mention of requiring masks while competing; however, the sidelines might have different rules depending on where you go.