Health department establishes guidelines for winter sports

For the Eagle | December 30, 2020 2:35 AM

In an effort to cut down the transmission of COVID-19 at area sporting events, the Flathead City-County Health Department and the Flathead County Athletic Directors released a COVID-19 guideline for winter sports and activities for middle and high schools on Monday.

The five-page document spells out the numerous ways schools are expected to help reduce the risk of COVID transmission, stating that each home team is responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements by all in attendance, including both the home team and the visiting team including but not limited to the use of masks and the maintenance of appropriate physical social distancing throughout the entirety of the event.

Guidelines for spectators and fans include:

●All fans must wear a mask.

●All fans must maintain a 6ft social distance (family units/households exempt).

●Only two home and visiting team spectators per participant in uniform will be allowed at an event for basketball, and wrestling.

●Two tickets will be given to each home team athlete and coach for parents/guardians prior to the event. Some schools may utilize a pass list.

●No spectators will be allowed for swimming events.

●The visiting team will provide a list and cell phone number of attendees prior to the event. We do understand that people may not be on a list, but have a pass of an athlete and they will then provide their name and cell phone number.

● No co-mingling with coaches, players, and/or other fans after and/or before the event.

● Gyms will be cleared upon the conclusion of each event and spectators will only be allowed to watch contests of which they have a participant actively participating

In addition, only six cheerleaders with two spectators will be allowed per team, school bands will not be playing at contests, there will be no concessions until further notice and all Flathead County schools have suspended all overnight trips until further notice with the exception of post-season play or in case of poor road conditions.

While the plan is meant to reduce the number of COVID cases, the document does state that there will likely still be cases associated with school sport events.

“The aim of this plan is to mitigate and manage the range of risks associated with school sports and activities, while acknowledging that there will likely be cases of COVID-19 associated with these activities,” it states. “Please note these guidelines and procedures are subject to review as needed throughout the evolving COVID-19 situation. Additionally, some schools may have increased restrictions based on the capacity limits of their individual facilities.”