The Minnesota Department of Health announced today that school-aged athletes playing outdoor sports won’t be required to wear masks when actively playing on the field or court.
The Minnesota State High School League confirmed that the new masking recommendation will begin today. Masks will still be required when athletes are not actively playing (in a dugout or on the sidelines). Masks are still required for indoor sports. Players, coaches and referees/umpires are being advised to test for COVID-19 weekly to prevent potential outbreaks because, according to a news release from MDH, the number of school-related COVID-19 cases last week set a new high – supplanting the previous high during a surge last November. Students who don’t participate in sports or youth activities are advised to be tested every two weeks.
MDH said there have been more hospitalizations among people under 60 years of age than those over 60 in recent weeks and that more than 60 percent of the positive cases in Minnesota have been the B.1.1.7 variant, which is more transmissible and has more severe symptoms.
To assist with the testing, MDH is asking schools to conduct COVID-19 testing on-site and MDH said it will provide free saliva test kits to any middle school, high school or organized sports team that makes a request.