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Upper Valley schools lay out plans for fans at games

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/17/2020 9:34:01 PM
Modified: 9/17/2020 9:33:51 PM

HANOVER — With the number of spectators at fall sporting events being left wide open in New Hampshire, different schools are taking different stances.

Hanover High announced on Wednesday that it had decided to limit outdoor events to two immediate family members per Marauder player. No away fans will be allowed, and Hanover students won’t be allowed at games unless they are an immediate family member and using one of the two permitted tickets.

“We’re hosting over 50 events in the next five weeks,” Marauders athletic director Megan Sobel said in a phone interview Thursday morning. “Trying to manage that with contact tracing, maintaining 6 feet of social distance at games and doing COVID-19 checks on media and officials, that’s just a lot.

“This wasn’t an easy decision. At this point, being a little more conservative is the way we decided to go to be able to manage the events properly.”

Sobel didn’t come to the decision herself. The district’s COVID-19 task force was involved, as well as Hanover’s health officer. The return of Dartmouth College students to campus played a role in the decision, too.

Spectators who are allowed at games will be required to wear a mask entering, during and exiting the event. Families can sit together but are to stay socially distant from others. Officials and visiting athletes must arrive ready to play, as no locker rooms will be open.

The rules that Hanover is putting in place for spectators are the same that all Division I schools across the state are adopting.

Sobel noted that on Saturday, for example, the Marauders are hosting five events at Merriman-Branch Field, including the Lebanon-Hanover boys soccer game. Trying to manage the crossover of fans would be too much to handle with both home and away fans.

Yet Lebanon will not put a cap on attendance at its home games. Fans will have to give their name and contact information upon entry, stand on the home or visitors side accordingly, wear a mask at all times and maintain social distance unless they are with family.

Raiders athletic director Mike Stone said that if fans cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance, they will be denied entry.

“We’ll give it a shot and see what happens,” Stone said. “I hope we don’t get to that point (of not allowing fans from visiting teams). If that’s what has to happen, then that’s what we’ll do.”

Because Gov. Chris Sununu doesn’t have a cap on the number of people allowed at gatherings in the state, schools in the Granite State are left to make these decisions themselves.

The only rule coming down from the state is a mask mandate for any event that exceeds 100 people. If participants do not meet the requirement, organizers will be subject to a penalty that can be enforced by local or state police, if necessary.

Similar to Lebanon, Mascoma and Newport will not allow entry to outdoor games without a mask or face covering, and fans are expected to wear their masks while on school grounds or at playing facilities.

Hanover, Lebanon, Mascoma and Newport will screen players and officials before competition begins.

The Marauders and Royals both have volleyball teams, which play in gyms, and won’t allow spectators into matches.

On the other side of the Connecticut River, the Vermont Agency of Education has made it clear that the maximum attendance at a sporting event is 150. Most schools are waiting until the state moves to Step II, when interscholastic athletic competition can begin, to release any policies surrounding attendance.

Windsor, however, will start the season limiting game attendance to two spectators per athlete and coach on the roster. The Yellowjackets won’t be opening concessions but are not charging entry fees.

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com.




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