ALBEMARLE — Two weeks into the 2020-21 volleyball season, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association is already enacting some updates to its guidelines.
The NCHSAA announced on Nov. 12 that it will require volleyball players to wear face masks during practices and games (effective Nov. 16) to limit the spread of COVID-19. Previously, only coaches and spectators were required to wear masks.
“The mask mandate for all skill-development activities as well as for volleyball is the most effective way we have to mitigate risk,” NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker said in a Zoom call with media members Monday afternoon.
There is one exception to the rule: a student with a medical condition that would prohibit wearing a mask will be able to go without one if medical documentation is provided from a licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant.
On Nov. 12, Tucker said that NCHSAA staff members have received reports of volleyball teams being quarantined, a precautionary measure that affected the first slate of games on Nov. 16. In light of those new reports, implementing the mask mandate became a priority.
“We reached out for information from the doctors on the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), as well as requesting input from (N.C. Department of Health and Human Services) doctors,” Tucker said. “After weighing the information, the NCHSAA Board of Directors voted to implement the stricter policies.”
Unlike volleyball, masks will not be required for high school basketball practices when they begin on Dec. 7 or basketball games starting on Jan. 4; mask usage will be enforced, however, during basketball skill development tactics like free–throw drills.
In addition, scrimmaging, 2-on-2s, and 3-on-3s will be prohibited during the season.
“If I want to play for my high school team, then I need to understand that the things that I used to do, I probably can’t do them right now,” Tucker said. “Because I want to give my team a chance. I think it begins with an attitude adjustment about this virus.”