Parent with MS allegedly banned from attending sons’ basketball games after briefly removing face covering

The day after the game in which he momentarily removed his face shield, Stencel was notified by the school district that he had disregarded their mask policy and was banned from attending any home games that remain in the season.

Stock photo of youth basketball team/Unsplash

While the governor has allowed a limited amount of spectators at youth sports games, masks are still required by mandate for attendees and most athletes.

Recently, a man with multiple sclerosis who is a father of two high-school athletes was reportedly banned from attending his sons’ basketball games because of an incident in which he briefly removed his face shield at his sons’ game.

Todd Stencel’s sons attend high school at the New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Public School District, where they also play basketball, located in the small town of Ellendale in southern Minnesota.

Stencel said the district has restricted him from attending future home basketball games this season because he momentarily took off his face shield in order to breathe better during one game.

Stencel has MS, which he said makes wearing a mask difficult because the act can “worsen his condition” and “make it difficult to breathe,” according to the Mankato Free Press.

He reached an agreement with the school’s superintendent, Dale Carlson, to wear a face shield instead of a mask, the Free Press reported.

When Stencel could tell his condition was getting worse during a basketball game last week, he removed his face shield briefly. A worker then told him to resume wearing his face shield, which he did.

The day after the game, Stencel said he was notified by the district that he had disregarded their mask policy and was banned from attending any future home games this season.

The school district’s policy states that individuals are exempt from the mask requirement if they have a “medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable for the individual to maintain a face covering.” This includes those with conditions that “compromise their ability to breathe,” according to the school’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.

Stencel believes the district is not cooperating with individuals with medical conditions. He has a lawyer involved, Patrick Casey, who said this “is not a unique issue,” according to the Free Press.

Superintendent Carlson reportedly told the Free Press in an email that he will not comment on the situation and that “the district is committed to ensuring a safe environment for athletes, officials, and fans who attend district athletic events.”

Center of the American Experiment reporter Tom Steward advised Minnesota to “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.”

“All my client wants to do is see his kids play basketball,” Casey said, the Free Press reported.

Stencel is fighting the district on its decision because he simply wants to watch his sons play basketball.

“You don’t get those opportunities back in life,” Stencel told the Free Press.