Holley school leaders say ‘consternation’ with athletes not wearing masks

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 March 2021 at 2:20 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Brian Bartalo, the Holley school superintendent, said there is a “gray area” for athletes wearing masks during high school events. Pictured in back are Connie Nenni, left, the district clerk and Robin Silvis, the BOE president.

HOLLEY – School leaders who watch high school sporting events or who see photos on the Orleans Hub notice that many of the athletes have their masks pulled down and aren’t covering their nose or mouth.

Some of the opposing players aren’t even wearing masks.

Brian Bartalo, the Holley school superintendent, said other students and parents see that and wonder why other students can’t do the usual musical, marching band or chorus concert.

“It’s created consternation for the music and drama folks,” Bartalo told the Board of Education on Monday.

Board member Anne Smith brought up the topic, saying she sees many of the sports photos on the Orleans Hub with masks that don’t seem to be properly worn.

Bartalo said the New York State Public High School Athletic Association allows a “gray area” with the masks. The association calls for athletes to wear masks at all times “unless unable to tolerate face covering for physical activity.” If they feel they can’t tolerate a mask, they can lower it, Bartalo said.

If athletes decide to lower their masks, referees or game officials have told the schools they aren’t going to “police” it, Bartalo said.

Coaches are taking athletes at “face value” if they lower their masks, it’s because they can’t handle playing the sport with the mask on, said Robin Silvis, the board president.