As the number of COVID-19 infections spikes in Fayette County, the Oelwein Community School District has more than 100 student-athletes expected to participate across four winter sports programs that will be following some new precautions.
Oelwein Community Schools Activities Director Nick Schauf sent a letter to the general public on Friday regarding the upcoming season and precautions, which include requiring masks and limiting the number of spectators to two per participant.
“Regardless of the requirements, we ask that you remain respectful and compliant when you visit all school and private facilities for events,” Schauf said in the letter. “The public health officials, school administrators, and coaches who have developed these strategies are doing their best and working hard to create a safe and healthy environment for all. Spectators not following social distancing and/or behavioral expectations will be asked to leave the contest.”
As the letter was released, the Oelwein School District reported 10 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday and 18 were in quarantine. A total of 11 students had tested positive in the district and 177 were in quarantine.
New this winter will be “pass cards” given to each sports participant in accordance with the number of spectators allowed per sport participant. Gov. Kim Reynolds’ health proclamation of Nov. 10 set the two spectators limit. Spectators must present cards to gain access and then pay admission to an event.
Oelwein’s first winter varsity event is a girls basketball game scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23. A game scheduled for Nov. 20 at Sumner-Fredericksburg has been postponed.
Oelwein’s high school bowling season begins Tuesday, Nov. 24, in Forest City. The boys basketball’s season begins Monday, Nov. 30 at Starmont. Wrestling’s first competition is Tuesday, Dec. 1, at Postville.
Schauf reported to the School Board on Monday that early numbers show 108 students in grades 9-12 going out for winter sports: 45 for boys basketball, 23 for girls basketball, 14 for bowling and 26 for wrestling.
“After successful attempts at summer and fall sports, excitement is continuing as high schools across the State of Iowa are preparing to offer winter sports and activities for their students and communities,” Schauf wrote in his letter. “In order for students and coaches to have a successful and safe season for indoor activities during a pandemic, it is imperative that we navigate our competitive team sports properly and with cooperation from all students, coaches, officials, families, and spectators involved.
“As we have seen throughout the last nine months, we must be adaptable to the COVID-19 mitigation strategies schools have implemented with help from County Public Health Departments. This winter will be unlike any other winter sports season we will have ever experienced and we should be thankful that our student-athletes get an opportunity to do something that they truly enjoy.”
He listed some of the regulations spectators must follow:
- Do not attend if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.
- Spectators must wear masks and practice social distancing at all indoor events for Northeast Iowa Conference Member Schools.
- All spectators will be required to physically distance themselves at events according to their family unit.
Schauf also said there will be access to restrooms and there be limited concessions available. Spectators are asked to bring exact change for admission. High school basketball and wrestling admission for adults is $5 and students is $3.
Spectators will not be allowed at bowling.
Admission to middle school basketball and wrestling will be free will donations at Oelwein. Middle school events admission will vary depending on the school that is hosting the event.
Spectators are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer.
“We are fortunate to continue to have an opportunity to watch our young people participate in the activities they love this winter thanks to the mitigation strategies and cooperation exhibited by all stakeholders this past summer and fall,” Schauf said. “Let’s continue to show the rest of the world that our activities can be done safely and that we can be respectful to our neighboring schools and facilities when visiting.
“We look forward to seeing all fans and parents when and where possible at our events in the near future!”