WARWICK — Winter sports athletes will need to be masked up when they head indoors for the first day of official practice on Monday, Nov. 29.

As to whether they’ll need to make a season-long commitment to wearing a face covering, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League is holding out hope that a different tune will be sung when the latest executive order regarding the use of masks in schools expires on Dec. 11.

RIIL officials huddled with the Department of Health prior to Monday’s meeting of the Principals’ Committee on Athletics. Per the overall data the DOH is paying close attention to, Rhode Island remains in a downward trend in terms of actual COVID-19 cases. That can only bode well for an adjustment to the regulations that student-athletes will need to adhere to before hitting the hardwood or ice.

“Hopefully we’re going to be in a much better place in a month,” said Mike Lunney, RIIL executive director.

The RIIL shared with the Principals' Committeee that discussions with the DOH remain ongoing about not only what can be possible pertaining to winter sports but to schools in general. That also ties in with how the superintendents wish to proceed as the RIIL continues to stress that they will not be deviating from the collaborative approach they’ve taken since the onset of the pandemic.

“At this point, we’re all trying to work together to figure out what is possible,” Lunney said.

At this time, it’s fair to expect that masks will be worn when the first basketball game of the season takes place Dec. 8, as well as when Injury Fund hockey games drop the puck on Dec. 4. The wrestling season is scheduled to open Dec. 11.

In Connecticut, the CIAC announced last month that winter athletes who are vaccinated will not be required to wear masks while competing.

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