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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Masking mandates keep student athletes safe

By Bren Belmonte | Staff Writer

Youth sports has always been a carefree afterschool activity, but with the recent pandemic, it has become a stressful situation for our athletes. Recently, a major milestone for COVID-19 vaccines happened when the FDA approved vaccines for five to eleven-year-olds. However, though positive scientific advances have been made, youth athletes should follow coronavirus mandates to keep themselves safe due to most sports being close contact.

   A safety checklist for youth athletes was made by the Healthy Children Organization (HCO) to educate parents and students. 

   According to the HCO checklist, “In counties with substantial or high transmission, all athletes should wear a mask for indoor training and competition, whether or not they are vaccinated.”

   However, some school districts still believe masks could hinder a game by causing danger to the players. 

   Since masks can pose as a choking hazard to students, the Orange Unified School District (OUSD) waived indoor mask-wearing despite the district’s statement that, “Schools with universal masking requirements are less likely to experience outbreaks.” 

   When OUSD athletes are not actively participating, they must still wear a mask regardless of COVID testing. Another mask protocol is that when sports teams go against a school within the same district, they do not have to wear a mask. 

   Consequently, having schools within OUSD waive most indoor mask use is not safe. Some close contact sports should require mask use indoors at all times. 

   Masks protect against the virus, though some students have not been vaccinated or are not eligible to acquire it. It is harmful for Orange County schools to dismiss masks indoors for most sport circumstances as they are endangering athletes. 

   San Gabriel Unified School District (SGUSD) presented to parents the Return to Play Plan and emphasized the significance of masks. The presentation explained that student athletes must “[wear] a mask while in public. [Masks] may be removed during periods of heavy exertion when directed by the coach.”

   The administration called for athletes to take off masks only to prevent overexertion of any kind to assist players while playing sports.

   “Currently, right now, masks are mandatory inside, decided by [LA County Department of Health],” stated Head of Athletics at Gabrielino High School, Coach Harold Sanin.

   The LA County Department of Health determines what health mandates should be followed, of which SGUSD abides by.

   Districts with larger student populations such as Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are expected to have higher numbers COVID-19 cases for youth sports, but they do not. Due to the district following the LA County Health Department guidelines, there is success in minimizing COVID cases. 

   While LA County Health Department mask mandates for youth sports programs resulted in very low COVID cases, OUSD and other school districts in the country with unsatisfactory protocols need to consider the mask mandates that San Gabriel has been following. San Gabriel schools have continued to have low COVID case numbers in total because of LA County’s health guidelines.

   The mandates for LA County schools have been effective for not just youth athletes, but for all students.

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Masking mandates keep student athletes safe