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YAIAA to require student-athletes to wear masks while competing in winter sports

Matt Allibone
York Daily Record

The York-Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association voted Monday to require student-athletes to wear masks while competing in winter sports, league executive director Chuck Abbott confirmed Wednesday. 

The Mid-Penn and Lancaster-Lebanon League are among the leagues in Pennsylvania that have decided to require its athletes wear masks this winter. 

An exception will be made for swimmers and divers while they are in the pool. Athletes can also seek a medical exemption. 

In a press release sent Thursday morning, the YAIAA said if a team has a participant who is not able to wear a mask while playing, that information must be given to the opponent prior to the game with a doctor's note submitted to the athletic director. 

If a player does not wear a mask and has not submitted a doctor's note, that team must contact its opponent immediately. If either team declares the game unsafe, it will be declared "no contest" and not a forfeit. 

More:Despite requests to delay season due to COVID-19, PIAA plans to start winter sports this week

More:Masked up: Winter sports athletes wearing masks to prevent COVID-19 spread

On Wednesday, the PIAA passed a motion that if there is a disagreement between competing schools over whether athletes have to wear masks during a contest, the game will be declared "no contest" and not a forfeit if the game is not played. 

When asked about that situation arising during the postseason, PIAA executive director Robert Lombardi said the PIAA will have to "set up conditions" on a potential forfeit in that situation. 

Still, the YAIAA's decision to require masks will hopefully prevent a situation where two competing schools disagree on whether to wear masks during a game, leading to the contest being canceled. 

The YAIAA previously voted to delay the start of winter sports from Dec. 11 to Dec. 18. At the time, Abbott said YAIAA had asked schools to consult their solicitors when making decisions about masks. 

At the end of November, the PIAA voted to reaffirm the new mask order from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, but said it has reached out to Gov. Tom Wolf's office for clarity regarding athletics. The order states masks must be worn anywhere indoors.

The YAIAA has also voted to prohibit opposing spectators and allow each school to shall set the guidelines for indoor facility limits.

Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, mallibone@ydr.com or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.