CCSD urges state to end mask policy for student-athletes after girl collapses

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Three days after a high school basketball player collapsed at practice, the Crook County School District wants the state to revise its mask policy for student-athletes “and consider the dangers of wearing them during competitions and practices.”

In a letter to Gov. Kate Brown, ODE Director Colt Gill and officials with OSAA and the Oregon Health Authority, Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson said the girl was revived by a coach and taken to the hospital after the incident.

“Thankfully, she is OK and has made a full recovery,” Johnson said. “Security footage of practice confirms (the girl) was wearing a mask when she started having trouble catching her breath and then passed out a short time later in the locker room.”

District spokesman Jason Carr told Central Oregon Daily News earlier this week that the incident was under investigation by an outside agency.

On Thursday, the CDC relaxed its guidance on masks saying they did not need to be worn indoors or outdoors by those who were fully vaccinated.

Brown announced Oregon would follow the CDC’s lead but masks still would be worn by students for the rest of the school year or until the ODE changed its guidance.

Johnson referred to an incident at Summit High School in Bend last month where a track athlete wearing a mask collapsed just before finishing an 800-meter race.

Her coaches and others immediately called for a change in the state’s rules for high school athletes – and less than a week later the Oregon School Activities Association did just that after new guidance from the state.

The changes allowed athletes to take off face coverings when competing in non-contact sports outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others.

Non-contact sports include but are not limited to tennis, swimming, cross-country, track and field, sideline/no-contact cheer and dance.

Johnson said it was time to revise the current policy to include all athletes.

“With support from the Crook County School Board, I’m asking Governor Kate Brown, the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Department of Education, and the Oregon Schools Activities Association to revise the mask policy for athletes and consider the dangers of wearing them during competitions and practices,” she said. “The evidence is growing that wearing masks impacts the flow of oxygen when students are exerting themselves and has the potential to cause serious harm.”

OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber said he’s waiting on new guidance as well.

“The OSAA has been in communication with the Governor’s Office and OHA seeking changes to the mask requirements and will continue that advocacy,” he said.

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