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Spring High School Football Player Mask Requirements

Rules • March 8, 2021

Updated March 8, 2021

DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS (February 15, 2021) – Fifteen states and Washington D.C., were planning or still hoping to have an unprecedented spring high school football season. The National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) wanted to determine which states are requiring players to wear a face covering inside the helmet and over the nose and mouth while playing in games and practices.

The information was originally compiled as of February 12, 2021 from contacting state high school association representatives and/or from guidance on state association websites. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

Ten states will require players to wear a mask while playing in games and practices




New Mexico

New York

North Carolina


Rhode Island



Three states currently will not require players to wear a mask while playing in games and practices


The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) said cloth face coverings are permitted. The MPSSAA said it could become a requirement based on the department of health.


The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) said a small number of schools in the city of Philadelphia and surrounding area are playing this spring. The state’s Secretary of Health Universal Masking Requirement Order requires wearing a mask if unable to maintain six feet of distance to others in an outside space.

However, the Order also has a provision and cites football, where wearing a mask in addition to a mouthguard and helmet would likely create a medical issue for the athlete, whether the athlete is a professional or youth, even if a previous medical issue was not present. The CDC says wearing a mask with these types of protective equipment is not safe if it makes it hard to breathe.

According to the PIAA, if a local school is requiring a mask while playing football, they can do so regardless of the provision in the order. It provides an ability not to wear masks if such a determination is reached.


Executive Director Billy Haun said while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) all highly recommend masks be worn during most athletic competitions, they have an executive order that has an exemption for wearing a mask while exercising. Some local school decisions are requiring them for their specific school but the Virginia High School League (VHSL) does not have a rule requiring masks during actual competition.

Other state updates


The state will be playing and players are recommended to wear a mask as tolerated per the California Department of Health.


The state will not play a spring football season.

Washington D.C.

No football-specific guidance on its website and no response to NSGA’s request for information.