A Decatur High School student in Federal Way participates in a conditioning workout in Feb. 2021 as the state eased back in to in-person activities. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing

A Decatur High School student in Federal Way participates in a conditioning workout in Feb. 2021 as the state eased back in to in-person activities. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing

State announces mask requirements for student sports, performing arts

Athletes are not required to wear masks when participating in sports of any contact level while outside.

Students who play sports or take to the stage this school year will face some mask requirements, according to updated guidelines from the Washington State Department of Health.

For students, staff, faculty and other personnel of grades K-12, masks are required when indoors at any time. When outdoors, the Department of Health does not require masks, regardless of vaccination status.

Gov. Jay Inslee reinstated a statewide indoor mask mandate on Aug. 18. Starting Aug. 23, masks are to be worn by everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in retail stores, restaurants and other public indoor settings.

Children under age 5 and people with medical conditions that prevent wearing a face covering are exempt.


According to the state guidelines, when it comes to sports and athletics, students and staff must wear masks during indoor PE classes. Masks are not required to be worn when outside.

Athletes, coaches, trainers and other support staff should maintain at least 6 feet apart when not actively engaged in their sport, such as in the locker rooms or on the sidelines.

Schools must also have screening protocols for student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other staff who work with students who are not fully vaccinated and participating in high-contact sports.

In weight rooms, all athletes, coaches, trainers and support staff must wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status, due to the high-risk environment.

Federal Way Public Schools, for example, has categorized the sports risk levels of each activity. The low-contact sports include tennis, golf, gymnastics, cross country, track and field, sideline/no-contact cheer and no-contact dance.

Moderate contact sports are softball, baseball, soccer, volleyball and bowling. High contact sports include football, wrestling, cheerleading with contact, dance with contact, and basketball.

The Federal Way district, for example, is not requiring any individuals to wear masks while engaged in outdoor training or competition in any type of sport. Athletes are not required to wear masks when participating in sports of any contact level while outside.

Spectators and visitors at indoor K-12 sporting events are required to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status, per the state guidelines. Audience members are encouraged to be seated with family members and separated from other small groups by at least 3 feet.

Health screening tests are required twice a week for all unvaccinated athletes in high-contact indoor sports, such as basketball and wrestling.

Fully vaccinated athletes do not have to participate in screening testing.

Performing arts

Masks are not required when outdoors and a social distance of at least 3 feet is recommended. When indoors, face masks are required for all students and faculty.

Singers, woodwinds and brass, speech/debate, and theater performers are required to wear appropriate masks while performing. Woodwinds and brass performers may remove their masks when performing on their instrument and must wear their mask during non-performance times.

Similar to sporting events, audience members should sit with their family members and be spaced 3 feet from other small groups. All audience members must wear masks.

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