Outfielders, Vaccinated Fans Required To Wear Masks At High School Baseball Games in Massachusetts

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/05/17/outfielders-vaccinated-fans-required-to-wear-masks-at-high-school-baseball-games-in-massachusetts/

If you go to a high school baseball or softball game in Massachusetts this year, you may notice something that looks a bit different from the CDC guidelines.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association developed rules for spring sports this season in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This comes after the organization that governs athletic programs for most public and private schools in the state cancelled spring sports altogether last year because of the virus. Notably, in outdoor spring sports, the players must wear face masks at all times. This includes high school baseball outfielders who are standing by themselves, as a NewBostonPost reporter saw at three separate high school baseball games earlier this month. 

There is no longer an outdoor mask mandate in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. That went away in late April. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out when changing its policy on masks that less than 10 percent of coronavirus transmissions in the United States have occurred outdoors.

The MIAA, however, didn’t change with the CDC. The MIAA came up with its spring sports guidelines on March 12, 2021, and they remain the same more than two months later — even in light of new health recommendations from the federal government.

Here is what the Massachusetts high school sports guidelines — which have not been updated — say:


Masks/Face Coverings – Athletes are required to wear cloth face coverings/masks per EEA guidelines, including always covering both the nose and mouth. Gaiters are permissible, except in Rugby, if permitted by local/school policy. Face coverings comprised of multiple layers and a tighter weave are more effective and mandatory. Masks with valves or filters are not permitted.


There are limited times when the MIAA lets athletes remove masks. The guidelines say:  “Mask breaks may be taken for drinking, and when needed for breathing comfort. Mask breaks may only be taken when greater than 6 feet of distance can be maintained from all others.”

When Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced his plans to lift the mask mandate in the state in late April, the MIAA  sent this announcement to its member schools on April 29:


In light of Governor Baker’s announcement on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 regarding the upcoming relaxation of the Massachusetts outdoor mask mandate, this communication is a reminder to MIAA member schools that the approved sport modifications by your Board of Directors remain in place and are expected to be followed. At this time, there are no changes or updates to sport modifications. The established MIAA governance process, which includes communication with the MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), will take place followed by timely communication to membership if any updates are made to the current modifications.

Thank you for your continued work to keep your student-athletes and community safe.

Have a great spring season!


There are no exemptions to this rule for players who have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine despite players age 16, 17, 18, and 19 participating in MIAA sports and being eligible for the vaccine. 

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance spokesman Paul Craney told NewBostonPost last week that these guidelines defy common sense.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve learned a lot about the virus,” Craney said by email. “What we have also learned is that it’s safe to play sports outdoors and not wear a mask. Unless you are a field hockey or ice hockey goalie, a mask is not needed. Kids and athletes should be getting back to normal at this point.”

Shawn Boomstrom, an Amateur Athletic Union coach who has a son on the Rockland High baseball team, said he thinks the rules are too strict — although he doesn’t think they should eliminate masks altogether.

“Baseball is the most social distant sport,” Boomstrom told NewBostonPost in an email message. “I agree that if there is a runner on base and is being held on by a fielder then yes they have to wear a mask. The fielders always wearing a mask hinders their ability to field a baseball as the mask blocks the players peripheral vision. I have noticed far too many errors being made by players that typically don’t make errors and they are blaming the mask for hindering there vision. If the players can maintain social distance requirements then I do not see a point in them wearing a mask except on the bench.”

Additionally, the MIAA’s fan policy also requires that people wear masks outdoors and socially distance, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Whitman-Hanson High School athletic director Bob Rodgers reminded fans of this policy on Twitter on May 6. Rodgers is a member of the MIAA’s board of directors.

“The fan policy for the spring is quite simple…..you may attend both home and away provided you wear your masks and stay socially distant from other fans,” Rodgers tweeted. “The recent lifting on mask requirement outside does not affect MIAA events. The masks ARE still required.”

A spokesman for the MIAA could not be reached for comment last week. 



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