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Hundreds of young athletes have experienced problems with Gov. Tim Walz’s controversial requirement that most participants in sports must wear face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
But what about parents fortunate enough to be among the limited number of fans allowed in the stands to see their children compete in person who experience problems themselves with a mask?
It happened to a father with multiple sclerosis who suffered difficulties with his protective covering in the stands. But rather than turning it into a teachable moment, the man claims the school district has prohibited him from attending future games, according to the Mankato paper.
A parent of high school athletes is alleging the New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Public School District unlawfully banned him from attending home basketball games for the remainder of the season after several instances where he had take his mask off for medical reasons.
Todd Stencel has multiple sclerosis and says wearing a mask can worsen his condition because it can make it difficult to breathe.
Stencel says he was banned from attending two home basketball games after two instances where he took his mask off to get some fresh air. After the instances, he says he spoke with Supt. Dale Carlson about the situation and his medical condition, and they came to a compromise that Stencel would wear a face shield instead of a mask to future games.
Unfortunately, even with a plastic shield rather than a mask Stencel needed to catch his breath for a moment at a subsequent game.
Carlson told The Free Press in an email that “the District will not comment on this specific situation… The District is committed to ensuring a safe environment for athletes, officials and fans who attend District athletic events.
”The District complies with all applicable guidelines and orders regarding the use of face coverings while on District property. Non-compliance with the District’s policy and directives is addressed on an individual basis,” the email read.
The standoff has led Todd Stencel to seek legal counsel just to gain admittance to cheer on his sons in their remaining games. Apparently Stencel is far from alone.
Patrick Casey, Stencel’s lawyer, said this is not a unique issue and that his law firm is seeing more complaints like this from students with medical conditions that may make it difficult to wear a facial covering.
Maybe Minnesota could learn something from schools some 35 miles away across the state line with Iowa where parents attend their kids’ basketball games with or without a mask.