With the start of school in Custer County, the Challis and Mackay school districts have approved coronavirus guidelines for student activities.
Challis High School’s activities plan is similar to the school district’s reopening plan in that it is divided into four color-coded categories. The Idaho High School Activities Association requires school districts to have reopening plans that address fans, team attendance, transportation and what to do if a student or coach tests positive for coronavirus, Challis High School Principal Kari Alexander told school board members last week.
The Challis plan begins with the lowest level — green. That means students and fans can attend district events as normal with physical distancing encouraged. Yellow means events can take place, but only immediate family members of players will be allowed to attend and they must wear face coverings. The orange phase removes spectators. Only players, coaches and event management personnel will be allowed to attend. Anyone not physically participating in the event will have to wear a face covering. In the highest phase, red, events are either canceled or postponed.
Alexander realizes some parents will be upset if the district ends up preventing fans from attending games, but she said it’s necessary.
Alexander told board members that the Challis COVID-19 plan has been reviewed with all coaches.
“They want to be able to play — that’s the bottom line,” she said.
The plan is subject to change and whether the district changes levels depends on direction from Eastern Idaho Public Health officials, according to the document.
Alexander told board members the Challis plan applies only to home games, and Challis must comply with any regulations in place to schools where they travel for athletics or activities.
Transportation for Challis student athletes will be handled similar to the events. At the green level normal transportation will take place with encouragement to physically distance on the bus. In the yellow and orange phases face coverings will be either encouraged or required.
Fans won’t be allowed to ride buses to games this year either, Challis Superintendent Lani Rembelski said, “as a precaution.”
Every day, Alexander anticipates evaluating the number of COVID-19 cases in Challis and in school districts Challis students will compete against.
“We will have to evaluate daily,” she said.
That includes the Mackay School District, which has a similar fall sports plan to that in Challis. In their green phase, fans may attend as normal. If they move into yellow, only 50 people will be able to attend events and they must be immediate family members of the home team. If the district reaches red status, all events are canceled.
During all three phases physical distancing will be required and people attending events must wear face coverings, according to the Mackay plan. The same rules apply to transportation for Mackay athletes. They must wear masks and physically distance on the bus and they will be screened for the virus before loading.
Both the Mackay and Challis plans state if a player, coach, or volunteer tests positive for COVID-19, they must be quarantined for at least 14 days. After those two weeks, the person who tested positive must provide a negative test before they can participate again.
To keep an eye out for positive cases, CHS Athletic Director Linda Zollinger said coaches now take the temperature of all students prior to the start of practice. If anyone has a temperature of 100.3 or higher “they have to leave immediately,” Zollinger said.
The same goes for Mackay athletes, who will be screened with a temperature check before every practice, workout or game.
All CHS athletes will also undergo an online concussion baseline test this year, Rembelski said. There is no cost to the district for the baseline exams because Steele Memorial Medical Center in Salmon donated the tests to the school.
That data will be valuable in the event a Challis student suffers a concussion, she said. It gives medical professionals data to compare to help determine when a student can return to sports.