In compliance with Gov. Brad Little’s loosened restrictions on high school athletics during the COVID-19 pandemic, Challis Athletic Director Linda Zollinger has sectioned off 32, 12-by-12 squares in the Challis High School gym bleachers.
Challis athletes can invite two household members to both home and away games, according to Little’s updated plan, but they must stay at least 12 feet away from other spectators. Zollinger told board members at a Jan. 6 special meeting it will be two spectators per square in Challis. Spectators must wear masks at all times unless seated, Zollinger said. As for everyone else, only participating athletes don’t have to cover their mouths. Coaches, referees, any other essential personnel and players sitting on the bench must wear a mask to be in compliance, Zollinger said.
Little’s plan dictates visiting teams and spectators must use separate entrances and exits from home participants. Zollinger said any visitors to Challis will enter the gym from the parking lot near the shop classroom. Home event personnel will be expected to clean the gym between events. Also, common areas must be sectioned off to ensure physical distancing.
“That’s a lot of new logistics,” Trustee Trish Farr said.
For the most part, Challis board members agreed to the conditions.
The alternative would have been sticking with the 10 spectator limit, which Challis parents have complained about at previous school board meetings.
Before they unanimously voted to adopt the plan, Trustee Janiel Parkinson raised concerns about the penalties that come with noncompliance. According to the new plan, schools that don’t comply can be reported to the State Board of Education. On the first offense, which can only be submitted by a coach, athletic director or administrator for a team competing in an event, the offending school will forfeit one event. In the event of repeated offenses, the remainder of the season can be forfeited.
“I like this, but I worry people won’t understand the severity of the consequences,” Parkinson said of the plan.
Zollinger agreed. The new requirements will be posted at all gym entrances to eliminate any excuses. Also, during games, the event announcer will remind attendees what is expected in order for the event to occur, Zollinger said.
Zollinger, along with two audience members, district personnel and all board members except Brett Plummer wore face coverings at the meeting. Plummer said he’d forgotten his mask.