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For indoor athletes, masks are back

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It might not be a welcome back, but masks are returning.

After athletes spent all summer practicing without their face coverings, The Public Education Department and the New Mexico Activities Association mandated the return of masks Tuesday, for indoor sports.

“The new toolkit handed down from the governor’s office to the public education department, it is written that any red counties, must wear masks in all sports,” NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez said in a phone interview at 4:15 p.m. “Vaccinated or unvaccinated.”

“Right now, the parameters that we have, is all kids have to wear masks, indoors and outdoors, for sports,” Hobbs Athletic Director Brenda Wilson said when talking to the News-Sun early Tuesday afternoon. “They (PED) would like all kids to be vaccinated.”

But things can change quickly and just 90 minutes later, a new message came out from the PED stating there was a misunderstanding and that while masks are required for indoor sports, face coverings for outdoor sports are recommended, with recommended in bold, no matter the color of the county.

According to the NM PED’s Facebook post, masks are not required for athletes, but “it is recommended that students wear masks while waiting on the sidelines, when they are not at play or practice.”

With everything that was discussed, one topic that was not brought up was spectators. Fans watching indoor sports were already informed that masks were required at all indoor events as of Friday, Aug. 20, and Tuesday night, at the Hobbs volleyball home opener, fans were in the stands, spaced out and wearing their masks. But when it comes to outdoor sports fans, as of now, it is an unknown.

“Spectators were not addressed,” Wilson said. “As of right now, I don’t believe spectators outdoors have to wear masks.”

The final item included in the email was the discussion to allow only those who are vaccinated to participate in high school sports, if positive cases continue to rise.

“That was a discussion (item), but that is not what came out,” Marquez said. “As of right now, that is not what is happening.”

Wilson is just happy the sports teams are getting to play.

“The positive thing is we are getting to play this year,” Wilson said. “I am grateful that we are getting to play.”

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