New Hampshire

NH Track Coach Says He Was Fired for Violating School's Mask Mandate

Track coach Brad Keyes said he lost his job at Pembroke Academy for refusing to enforce the school's requirement that student athletes wear masks, as recommended by New Hampshire athletic officials and the CDC

NBC Universal, Inc.

A track coach in New Hampshire said he's been fired after violating his school's mask requirements.

Brad Keyes lost his job at Pembroke Academy after refusing to enforce a policy requiring student athletes to wear masks at track and field events.

"I will not tell my kids they have to wear masks," Keyes told NBC10 Boston. "There's no benefit to it other than a bureaucrat somewhere saying, 'Well, we've done something to help the kids,' when they're not."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says otherwise, recommending that youth and adult athletes wear masks that cover their mouth and noses to help combat the spread of COVID-19, and encouraging coaches to be role models in wearing masks.

Head of the CDC Dr. Rochelle Walensky is sounding the alarm over a possible fourth surge in COVID-19 cases as health experts label Massachusetts among the "areas of greatest concern."

It also notes that people "engaged in high-intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a mask if it causes difficulty breathing," and recommends that those activities be held outside in places where physical distance can be maintained.

Keyes acknowledged that the mask rule was adopted at the recommendation of the state governing board for high school sports, but he argued that the students are outdoors and that masks make it difficult for them to breathe while running.

The other schools that Pembroke plays have also adopted mask mandates.

People in the area had mixed reactions to Keyes' firing.

"You can safely do it outdoors without masks, if you're doing it right, you know? So I feel like the guy was just trying to do what’s right for the kids,” one man said.

"I think if it's the school policy, they have to let him go," said another man. "You have to wear a mask."

Keyes said this wasn't an easy for him. He said he's loved the last four years at Pembroke.

"I really hate doing this and leaving them," he said. "That's the one part of this that I'm very sad about."

The school's headmaster and athletic director have so far been unavailable for comment.

Contact Us