In a statement issued Friday, Pitt said, “In alignment with the recent guidance from state officials regarding the current health climate, Pitt’s football team will be appropriately outfitted for Saturday’s game with face coverings to use on the field and sideline. This is being communicated to Virginia Tech’s sports medicine staff as well.”
A Virginia Tech official confirmed that the school’s medical team has been made aware of the appropriate guidelines.
The Pennsylvania secretary of health issued the new order earlier this week. It states: “Coaches, athletes, and spectators must wear face coverings while actively engaged in workouts and competition as well as when on the sidelines, in the dugout etc. unless they meet an exception in the Face Covering Order. Section 3 of the Order provides an exception that allows an individual to remove their mask 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.
“The Order indicates 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.”
The Panthers and Hokies would be the first two college teams to wear face coverings during play.
Last week, Pitt’s game against Georgia Tech was postponed after both schools experienced coronavirus issues. It’s unclear how the new mask policy will be enforced in the game.
While Pitt plans to adhere to the state’s new protocol, other prominent Pennsylvania football programs are not intending to wear masks on the field.
“As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and staff is paramount,” the school said in a statement. “The Governor’s new orders include limited exceptions for competition to be played without face coverings in the context of rigorous and stringent University and Big Ten testing, health and safety protocols. All other game day personnel have been required to wear masks and we will continue to enforce this guideline at our events.”