High schools across the country have been forced into unique circumstances by the pandemic. Some schools are making incredible efforts, however, to provide their students with an opportunity to play while simultaneously making it as safe as possible.
The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that many schools in the state are implementing protocols intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 — including screening, testing, enhanced cleaning, mask mandates and social distancing measures.
“It’s the new normal,” Goffstown athletic director Justin Hufft told the Union Leader. “It’s what we have to do to have a season.”
The NHIAA has mandated certain protocols, for instance requiring that all participants wear masks for state tournaments “except for gymnastics, swimming, ski jumping and spirit as determined by safety reasons by sports specific committees.” However, many schools are taking additional steps to mitigate the spread of the virus.
The Union Leader reports that schools are spacing out benches and restricting fan access for basketball games. Trinity, Spaulding, Derryfield, Londonderry and Goffstown high schools allow each basketball player to invite two parents to games, but visiting fans are not allowed. Some schools prohibit fans from certain events altogether, asking those who wish to watch instead to view livestreamed events on online platforms, or on community access television. Coaches and athletes at Spaulding and Goffstown require athletes and coaches to wear masks at all times, and Goffstown teams don’t use locker rooms.
NHIAA schools have adopted regional regular-season schedules to limit bus use. Some schools screen student-athletes and take temperatures prior to boarding a bus for a road contest. Buses have capped capacity, and some teams use multiple buses.
Spaulding athletic director and football coach Kevin Hebert told the Union Leader that his teams only use buses as a last resort, preferring athletes secure their own transportation with someone within their household when possible.
“I tell coaches I’d rather have no one on buses when it’s preferable but sometimes that’s just the way we need to get kids to games,” Hebert said.
Some schools have taken to testing their student-athletes when the situation calls for it.
“There’s caution with everything here because, frankly, we have to,” Hebert said.