SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — February was a normal sports month. Full of wrestling, basketball and much more activities for the Sioux Falls School District, but that all ended quickly with the arrival of COVID-19.
“That season, we found out it can go fast, back in the spring and the last thing that we want to tell our kids in the Sioux Falls School District is that they don’t have that opportunity again. That was a tough call to make in the spring and we really do not want to do that again,” Sioux Falls School District Athletics Coordinator Casey Meile said.
Sports have been back in action since the beginning of August. Many rules and regulations have been put into for the players, but the Sioux Falls School District knew they needed to create a plan for the spectators as well.
“With Minnehaha County being in substantial spread with COVID-19, we had to have a plan. We didn’t want to increase that community spread and so our recommendation, which was acknowledged by the school board, was to start in tier three, which does limit our spectators at ticketed events in the Sioux Falls School District,” Meile said.
Football, volleyball and soccer are the only ticketed events, which means they are the only events that will have restricted attendance.
Football games will be restricted to four tickets per player on the football team, cheer leading squad and marching band. Volleyball will be restricted to four tickets per player on each of the freshman, junior varsity and varsity levels, unless the game is played in a smaller auxiliary gym. Then tickets are limited to two tickets per player.
“When you look at that (plan), it adds up pretty quick, but we felt like that was significant in that we could provide a safe opportunity for our spectators to socially distance and follow the COVID-19 guidelines at the restrooms, concessions and that type of stuff,” Meile said.
Adults will be limited to this fall’s sporting events, but there will still be plenty of students in the grandstands.
“We kept it student centered. We are limiting the adult attendance that we have, but since we are in school together and these are student based activities, we wanted to allow these opportunities for our students to come,” Meile said.
The Sioux Falls School District is currently in tier three of their four tier plan. That means the district could always go down a tier, should the COVID-19 cases in the state rise.
“Obviously, we have another tier, that if we get more spread in Minnehaha and Lincoln County and the state and local officials come to us, then we have a game plan that we just go essential staff and essential people to those events, so that we can hopefully keep operating,” Meile said.
Fans from the Sioux Falls schools won’t be the only fans receiving limited tickets. The district has created a plan to limit the amount of visiting fans, to help practice social distancing on both sides of the field.
“Our parents and students within the Sioux Falls School District have an option to buy a pass, so we’re trying to limit that hand to hand interaction at the ticket gate with our spectators. Obviously with the visiting team, you’re not able to do that,” Meile said. “You’re not able to sell passes at a school, so what we are doing is we call them ‘permits’ and we are sending them (visiting schools) the same amount that our team gets, which is the four permits. They will present the permit at the ticket booth and that allows them the option to purchase admission at the ticket booth.”
Masks are expected to be worn by all spectators and COVID-19 guidelines, such as social distancing, is also expected to be followed. However, the district knows that it will take everyone to make this season happen.
“Our motto this year in the Sioux Falls School District (SFSD) is ‘together’ and together, everyone is going to be able to achieve this goal,” Meile said. “Our goal is to keep traditional learning going in the SFSD and providing safe opportunities for our students to participate in activities. To be able to do that together, we’ll need to make sure we are following the COVID-19 guidelines.”
Soccer has already begun for the Sioux Falls schools, and volleyball season begins on Tuesday, August 25. The football season will kick-off with week one, which begins on Friday, August 28.
You can watch the first football game on KELOLAND.com as Aberdeen Central battles Sioux Falls Washington at 6:00 p.m.
The Sioux Falls School District isn’t the only school that will have limitations on fan attendance.
The Brandon Valley School District has also made changes due to COVID-19.