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USD 501 basketball games begin with mask mandate

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 7:07 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - People in the stands, players on the floor, all on the bench and referees were wearing masks Tuesday night for the start of the Topeka Public Schools basketball season.

Those whose mask slipped down, or they were not wearing it over their nose and mouth were reminded from administration or referees throughout the night.

It’s part of a policy passed by the USD 501 board last week - in order for their teams to play this season, both teams have to agree to wear masks at all times.

Colin Cathey, USD 501 Athletic Programs Supervisor, said a lot of research and discussions with schools and health officials went into the choice.

“Every decision that we make, whether it’s from our school board or district level or building level - we’re keeping that in the forefront of our minds is the safety of our students and staff,” he said.

If opposing fans, players and coaches do not follow the mask rule, the schools will reschedule the game in hopes community transmission is reduced and restrictions can be relaxed.

“We would continue to have those conversations with the visiting schools administrators to make sure they were able to comply with that request,” said Cathey.

Concerns discussed with health officials and schools from Cathey included things like what would happen if a player doesn’t pull their mask over their face in the midst of the game.

“That would be when a coach would be subbing that kid in and redirecting them to make sure they are properly wearing their mask as we have outlined for them to do.”

Cathey added the physical and mental health benefits of the game are the reason the district, and their competitors, are buying into the changes.

“Our kids are excited to get the opportunity to compete and that was their number one concern right now - was just getting onto the court, and the fact that we have to wear our mask, they were willing to comply with that request,” he said.

The Topeka High and Junction City games that were supposed to be played Tuesday were postponed. The Junction City Post reports it’s due to differing face mask policies.

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