Malheur County’s athletic directors are working on plans to allow a limited number of fans at outdoor games after being notified on Wednesday that players, coaches and workers will no longer be counted in the total for the number of people in attendance at indoor and outdoor activities.
According to the new Oregon Health Authority guidance, there can be a maximum of 120 coaches, officials and players at any outdoor game. On top of those people, spectators can now be allowed up to the maximum capacity for outdoor activities for the county’s risk level. Malheur County is currently in the “moderate risk” level, which means 150 for outdoor gatherings and 100 for indoor.
With this move, the Oregon Health Authority opens up room for fans, and most of those will likely be family members of players at home games for now.
As far as when that will happen, it will be different for each school as they work to meet requirements.
“We’re working through what that looks like for us,” said Josh Mink, athletic director for Ontario High School in a phone interview on Thursday. “We’re working to make it happen.”
He was planning to go out and start working out the math at the stadium to see if they can make it work as early as Friday night, when Ontario will host rival Vale for the second football game of the season.
If they are able to pull it off, Mink said spectators may be limited to players’ families only.
Tom Snook, athletic director for Vale High School says their plan won’t be finalized until next week.
“We are currently working on a plan that will allow in a limited number of parents from each school and a limited number of Vale HS students,” he said in an email on Thursday.
Requests for comment from other schools, including Adrian, Nyssa and Vale were not returned by press time.
OHA’s updated guidance states that there must be a physical distancing monitor assigned to ensure compliance with max capacity and contact tracing information must be gathered for all attendees. Schools which do allow spectators will need to put them in a designated area with separate entrances, exits and restrooms from participants.
The truncated seasons for several sports are underway at the same time, and Mink said this month “is going to be a whirlwind,” and that “pretty much every day of the week an event is happening somewhere.”
In April, they will get a bit of a break as they transition into spring sports for a busy five weeks. And in Mid-May to end of June, it will be even lighter because it will be down to two holdover sports from fall: basketball and wrestling — indoor contact sports that are still prohibited across the state.
One thing that has been helpful at outdoor games for parents, Mink said, has been the ability to stand outside the fence and still see the soccer and football games.
“I think the community is doing a good job of understanding why we’re doing the things we’re doing, including limiting fans.”