Winter sports face new VHSL safety guidelines


Coaches make announcements at the beginning of a track and field practice. “We want to make sure people’s families are safe,” sophomore Aidan Singer said. “The mask mandate will help with that.”

Keertana Senthilkumar and Nimesh Rudra

Starting Friday, Dec. 11, students participating in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) sports activities must wear masks throughout the full practice, excluding water sports, gymnastics, and wrestling in which masks can be a choking hazard. 

The Virginia High School League (VHSL) recently updated their considerations for Recreational Sports to require that athletes wear masks throughout practice. This is a change from previous VHSL guidelines, which allowed for maskless tryouts. Winter sports in-person practices at Jefferson began on Monday, Dec. 14 for gymnastics, track & field, wrestling, and swim/dive. 

“In wrestling the students will not wear masks throughout practice,” head Wrestling coach Charles Phillips said. “Unless they change that around, if they changed that, I would be shocked. It would be very difficult to wrestle with a mask on.”

Some athletes have expressed doubt about the new requirement and its effects on athletic performance. 

“I understand why the new rule is put in place,” sophomore Aidan Singer said. “However, at the same time, it is definitely going to affect my breathing as a distance runner.”

Jefferson staff are actively making safety a priority despite the disadvantages restrictions have on practices. 

“My hope is that none of my kids get sick, none of my parents get sick, and none of my coaches get sick,” Phillips said. “That’s the only hope I have. Everything else is going to be what it is.”