Portland School District Will Mandate Masks For All Sports Competitions and Practices

Portland Public School officials will mandate masks for all sports competitions, practices, and performances.

The state is seeing a COVID surge driven by the Omicron variant. Other districts have taken similar measures, whereas others have made no changes to their policies regarding extracurricular activities yet.

On Tuesday, the Portland school district announced it will mandate that athletes wear masks at all times during sports practices and competitions, as well as dance and music performances. The only exception is for students who play wind instruments.

Additionally, the district is restricting access to locker rooms, ending overnight travel for extracurricular activities, and requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of anyone over the age of 5 attending an after-school event.

The new requirements will be enforced until February 4 and reflect those that were implemented in spring 2021.

There were 4,540 new COVID cases on Tuesday, Oregon health authorities reported. This figure broke the state's previous record of daily cases, which was made just five days prior, with Omicron spreading across the state.

The Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority together advised Monday to either pause extracurricular activities or enforce new requirements to curb the spread of COVID.

A mask requirement sign in LA.
On Tuesday, the Portland school district announced it will mandate that athletes wear masks at all times during sports practices and competitions, as well as dance and music performances. Above, a mask requirement sign in July 2021 at the entrance of a store in Los Angeles, California. Chris Delmas / AFP via Getty Images

Similar measures were announced in some other districts, while others made few changes to their policies but asked people to voluntarily limit attendance at sporting events and other activities.

In the suburban district of Lake Oswego, for example, officials announced Tuesday they would limit spectators at sporting competitions in their gyms and pool to four per athlete for games in gyms and two for home team swimmers in their senior year. Athletic competitions will be live-streamed for those who can't attend under the new ticket-based system, the district said.

Lake Oswego also extended free weekly COVID testing for elementary students—a program that was to end in January—and announced plans to expand it to middle and high school students by February.

The district will review its policy every two weeks, according to a statement.

Other districts, including Salem-Keizer and Hillsboro, posted warnings on their website that participating in extracurricular activities could lead to a risk of COVID-19 infection and quarantine but did not implement any new rules.

Salem-Keizer said it was currently reviewing its policies in light of Omicron. Hillsboro School District asked people to voluntarily limit the number of spectators at sporting events and said the district would conduct contact tracing to determine if cancellations were necessary for any sport or activity.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Portland Schools, Mask-Vaccine Requirements, Extracurricular Activities
Portland school district's new requirements will be enforced until February 4 and reflect those that were implemented in spring 2021. In this photo, a player wearing a mask warms up before the start of the game between the Cathedral Fighting Irish and the Westfield Shamrocks on August 21, 2020, in Westfield, Indiana. Justin Casterline/Getty Images