Lani Rembelski and Susan Buescher, superintendents for the Challis and Mackay school districts, said student athletes have been a positive factor in the uncertainty of COVID-19 this fall.

“They’ve been so understanding,” Buescher said. “All they want to do is play.”

Both Buescher and Rembelski said it was a disappointment when the Sept. 9 football game between Challis and Mackay had be canceled because of the virus. Custer County’s risk level had been moved into the moderate category because of an increase in the number of active cases among county residents.

Buescher said the cancellation, like other inconveniences caused by the pandemic, could have been avoided if people within the county took face coverings more seriously. Masks are a simple measure that slow the spread of the virus, Buescher said, which is why she likes seeing them at school events, especially those that take place indoors like volleyball games.

“We want the kids to feel supported and everyone else to just be aware,” Buescher said.

Rembelski said when spectators wear face coverings and keep their distance from other people at sporting events, it ensures the student athletes get to play. The safety measures not only cut down on the possibility of contamination, Rembelski said, but also show public health officials that local districts are dedicated to returning to a less-restrictive designation.

Both superintendents said the biggest hurdle student athletes and their coaches have had to deal with this season has been measures taken at other schools. When Custer County players travel, or when players come to play in Mackay or Challis, they have to play by the home team’s COVID-19 rules, which in turn are based are their health district’s recommendations.

“This leads to a lot of confusion about what everyone is suppose to do when they’re visiting,” Buescher said.

Buescher and Rembelski are working with other superintendents to come up with a more uniform system.

Custer County went into the the moderate risk category Sept. 3. In order to return to minimal risk, the county must have an active case rate of less than 7 for seven straight days. On Monday, the count had been below that threshhold for five days. The Eastern Idaho Public Health District board is scheduled to meet Thursday, Sept. 24 and the county’s status will be among items discussed at that meeting.