With input from parents and staff, Challis school board members adjusted the COVID-19 athletic events plan during a special board meeting Oct. 21.
Events taking place while the district is in the yellow phase will continue to have a spectator cap, to maintain physical distancing standards set by district administrators, but face coverings will not be required. Coverings will be required in the orange phase and more people than just immediate family members can attend events in the orange phase, as physical distancing standards allow.
Superintendent Lani Rembelski said parents who responded to a district survey were mostly concerned about mask enforcement. However, parents at the board meeting also raised concerns about the definition of immediate family members.
Parents Joel and Sabrina Peterson said the term immediate family is too vague. It could mean the people who live in one household, or it could include siblings and grandparents that live out of the house.
The solution, Joel said, is “let the adults make up their own minds” and allow the general community to attend. If people don’t feel safe enough to come to a sporting event, then they don’t have to, he said.
Board Chairman Brett Plummer agreed with Peterson. Wanting to avoid conflict, Plummer said having a spectator cap in the orange phase reduces the number of people who could potentially be turned away from an event unnecessarily.
Earlier this month, board members chose to cap attendance in the yellow phase of the athletics plan. At the time, Rembelski explained limiting events to family only was an unnecessary restriction. Events held inside the Challis High School gym can seat 100 on each set of bleachers with six feet of distance between spectators, she said, which leaves a lot of unused room when it’s only immediate family in the gym.
Challis Elementary School teacher Jennifer Zollinger said another reason to allow more people in is to help the referees. They get paid part of the ticket sales at games, she said, so having more people come means it’s more worthwhile for referees to travel to Challis.
As for face coverings at events, board members agreed keeping the requirement in the orange phase was a worthwhile measure. Board members replaced the word require with encourage when it came to coverings in the yellow phase and strongly encourage in the orange phase of the district’s COVID-19 response plan.
While they loosened those restrictions because enforcing them on students has proven too difficult, board members said they felt comfortable enforcing a mask rule on parents and spectators. The board members agreed because parents have a vested interest in watching their children play, they could put up with face masks if the district ever reaches the orange level.
Anyone who doesn’t wear a covering will be asked to leave the event, board members said, a punishment that parents and staff at the meeting said was fair.
Board members reached their decision in a 2-1 vote, with Janiel Parkinson voting no.