▶️ Unmasking vaccinated athletes; school districts deciding how to move forward

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Fully vaccinated athletes can now compete indoors without a mask and spectators can get rid of them too, in some cases.

If players and fans can prove vaccination status, they can ditch those masks for practices and games.

Every school district is now tasked with deciding if and how to manage the new guidelines released by the Oregon Schools Activities Association.

“How do we check to make sure we have accurate information on athletes that are vaccinated,” asked Madras High Athletic Director Mark Stewart.” “Probably a small number is vaccinated, so how does that affect the team, the opposing team, there is a lot at play here and we just need to sit down and talk about it.”

Stewart says his district is still reviewing the new rules and hasn’t decided how it will move forward.

“We just need to make sure we are doing our due diligence that they are vaccinated and we are protecting everyone and keeping them safe at the same time,” said Stewart.

At least two athletes on the Madras boys basketball team are fully vaccinated and are now waiting to see what the school decides.

“The reason we got vaccinated was to not wear masks during sports and to be safe and we still have to wear masks,” said Madras senior Dylan Heath. “It’s just a weird experience.”

Districts pushed for rule changes after two central Oregon athletes reportedly collapsed after wearing a mask during competition.

▶️ A week after Summit runner collapses, OHA relaxes mask rules for athletes

Heidi Boyle’s 16-year-old son is a three-sport athlete at Madras High.

“We were definitely planning on getting our kids vaccinated before school started in the fall, but with this news we are planning on moving forward with that sooner,” said Boyle.

 “It makes me kind of regret that we didn’t move forward with this sooner,” she added.

Boyle has seen mixed reactions from the community about the new mask guidance.

While most high school athletes aren’t or won’t be fully vaccinated until the end of the season, Dylan Heath and Derrek Main have been fully vaccinated since early April.

“It will be nice to not have to wear a mask in the gym again because the only thing I actually look forward to is things going back to normal,” said Heath.

Bend-La Pine Schools is also still considering its policy.

Redmond Schools and the Crook County School District will allow athletes and spectators to take off their mask if they can prove they’re fully vaccinated.

This new mask guidance by the OSAA goes into effect Friday.

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