Delaware high school athletes will continue to be required to wear masks in most competitions after the DIAA Board could not agree on an emergency regulation to have them removed before the end of the spring season.
An emergency ordinance to remove their own mask mandate brought forward by Board President Dr. Bradley Layfield was defeated by a 6 "yes," 6 "no," 5 absent vote. A total of 10 "yes" votes were required in order to bring the ordinance before the State Board of Education on Thursday.
The DIAA Board agreed on April 8, 2021 to begin the process of removing language from their regulations that require mask use in specific sports, as opposed to following Division of Public Health Guidelines, but the traditional route can take up to 45 days from May 1, requiring the attempt for emergency regulation.
Several board members, including Board President Dr. Bradley Layfield and Medical Representative Dr. Bradley Bley pushed for the masks to be removed, but met resistance from the Board's lawyer Laura Makransky, who pushed them for an "imminent peril" argument, which is required for an emergency regulation change in Delaware.
It was up to the board to prove that removing masks in a quicker process than typical regulation changes was needed due to "imminent peril to the public health, safety, or welfare."
DIAA sent a survey to all the other state associations asking whether they had recorded any specific mask-related injuries, and all 41 states that replied said they had no cases.
Delaware itself is claiming one boys lacrosse injury due to a mask, but that is not a sport where mask use would be allowed to halt under Governor Carney's Executive Order, which requires athletes in "high-contact" and indoor sports to continue to be masked.
Delaware's youth and amateur sports, which DIAA falls under, qualify for Gov. Carney's order, but because of the specific language, DIAA cannot take advantage of the Division of Public Health's change in policy.
According to DIAA data presented at the meeting, 13 state associations continue to have mask mandates while 26 do not have those rules.
The next step to remove the masks will be the May 1 posting with the Registrar of the updated policy change, which then begins a 30-day public comment period, and possible meeting. There would then be another 15-day public comment period after that meeting, before the DIAA Board would then be allowed to reaffirm their vote, and then they would still need Board of Education approval.
That would be mid-June, and well after the last baseball of DIAA's spring sports would have been pitched.
The DIAA Board of Directors vote on the Emergency Regulation was as follows:
YES: Bradley Layfield, Bob Cilento, Matt Donovan, Mike Hart, Jeremy Jeanne, Chuck Little
NO: Mike Breeding, Evelyn Edney, Dorrell Green, Doug Thompson, Stan Waterman, Robert Watson
NOT PRESESNT: Dr. Bradley Bley, Vedra Evans-Gunter, Bruce Harris, Ted Laws, Amelia Hodges