VHSL news releases

VHSL will not require masks to be worn in games and practices

Released: December 14, 2020

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – On December 10, the VHSL announced that it “is requiring each school to follow the recommendations of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)” that students and coaches wear masks while participating in sports. This requirement was issued in response to information that the Governor’s Requirement to Wear Face Coverings would include such a provision. However, EO 72 when issued stated that Face Coverings requirements “do not apply to … individuals exercising or using exercise equipment.”

“VHSL apologizes for any confusion created by its original release,” said VHSL Executive Director, Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “We ask the public to understand that it is the first mission of VHSL to make sure that athletics are conducted in a safe and healthy environment, and it was that desire that motivated the original decision.”

Accordingly, VHSL is rescinding its “requirement” that face coverings be worn during training and competition and is reissuing its guidance to conform with the intent of EO 72 that face masks are “strongly encouraged” but not required. Each school may continue to exercise its discretion and judgment as to safety steps within its athletics programs as it pertains to face coverings.


VHSL clarifies new statewide measures and impact on VHSL sports and activities

Released: December 11, 2020

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia High School League (VHSL) clarified the impact of updated statewide measures and recommendations to contain COVID-19 on VHSL sports and activities, specifically, guidelines for wearing facemasks and spectators attending athletic competitions.

During times of substantial COVID-19 activity VDH strongly advises athletes to wear masks at all times during group training, competition, and on the sidelines. There is strong evidence to show that mask use prevents the spread of COVID-19. We also know that participating in sports has both physical and psychological health benefits. Risks from the virus can be decreased if athletes, coaches, officials, and spectators follow public health guidelines.

Additionally, if wearing a mask makes participation in sports difficult, it is advisable not to participate in sports at this time.

“With the support of the Governor’s office and our VHSL Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), the VHSL is requiring each school to follow the recommendations of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP),” said VHSL Executive Director, Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “There are some sports in which the mask should not be worn, such as cheerleading, gymnastics, wrestling and swim and dive.”

In addition, the VHSL will comply with Executive Order 72 capacity limits:

  • For sports played indoors, spectators must be limited to 25 persons per field (indoor courts). For sports played outdoors, spectators are limited to two guests per player. The total number of spectators cannot exceed 30 percent of the occupancy load of the certificate of occupancy for the venue.

For the latest information, visit the VHSL website.