Some western Pa. school districts already delaying start of winter sports season

PITTSBURGH — Due to the COVID-19 surge, a lot of kids are back home again doing remote learning, but now their athletics could be in jeopardy.

Today was supposed to be the start of the winter sports season, but several school districts – including Gateway, Pittsburgh Public Schools and Bethel Park – decided to delay because of the spike in cases.

And many parents are now concerned there won’t be a season at all.

“COVID is stripping everything from these children,” said Bethel Park parent Laura Kirstein. “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to continue sports, I know no one. Fingers crossed that this doesn’t have to come to an end for him because it’s everything to he and his friends.”

However, some schools are going ahead and starting winter sports on time, such as Fox Chapel, Hampton, Seneca Valley and Mars.

The Mars athletic director said they are following all protocols and doing everything they can to keep students safe and that district leaders believe it’s safe to start the season.

The delay implemented by some schools will impact the winter schedule because the usual requirement of scrimmages and a certain number of practices will have to be adjusted.

Some parents told Channel 11 they are upset about the state’s new rule requiring athletes to wear a mask during competition. Kirstein said her son has asthma, and she’s nervous he could end up in the emergency room from passing out.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health lists exceptions to the mask requirement for student-athletes on its website:


Section 3: Exceptions to Covering Requirement

The following are exceptions to the face covering requirements in Section 2. All alternatives to wearing a face covering, including the use of a face shield, should be exhausted before an individual is excepted from this Order.

A. If wearing a face covering while working would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.

B. If wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition, or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition or a disability.

C. When necessary to confirm the individual’s identity.

D. While obtaining a service that requires the temporary removal of the face covering, such as dental services.

E. When working alone and isolated from interaction with other people with little or no expectation of in-person interaction.

F. If an individual is communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.