There are plenty of changes that come at a time like this – the atmosphere at high school sporting events isn’t one that’s left out.
Area high schools have adapted to the ever changing society that’s become a reality since March. It started with schools slowly transitioning to online learning and the spring sports season being canceled. Now, it’s time for a new school year and a new sports season.
A question that may be on the minds of some is: how are area schools taking precautions when it comes to fans and athletes coming together to enjoy sports once again?
After reaching out to a few of the high school athletic directors in the area, there was a common theme among most of them: social distancing. Although, this may be easier at some schools.
At Branson High School, athletic director David Large said they feel fortunate to have the facilities they do at their school. These facilities give them ample room for social distancing.
“We feel very lucky because we have such nice facilities,” Large said. “Families will be able to social distance.”
But the main thing at Branson is the requirement of a face covering, as face coverings are a city ordinance.
Additionally, Large said they are not allowing any gathering on fields or on the courts – whether that will be post-game or otherwise. Some other minor changes to the experience at Branson are the fact there will be no re-entry allowed at sporting events, and visiting teams will be asked to bring their own water bottles; though Branson will provide the team with water.
Things are pretty similar at Hollister High School. Athletic director John Burgi said they are requiring masks at any athletic events, unless fans are able to social distance.
“The main thing is really just trying to keep everyone apart,” Burgi said.
To help fans social distance, the high school is opening up designated areas on the track and in grassy areas where fans can bring their own lawn chairs and watch the game. Inside, for volleyball, Burgi said they’re blocking off every other row of seating in the bleachers and opening up the mezzanine to allow for more seating.
Burgi noted that the school will have to see how these precautions work, and things could change in the future if needed.
At one of the smaller schools in the area, things are more relaxed. Ken Elfrink, Blue Eye High School’s athletic director, said the school is keeping people distanced and is recommending masks. He said there will be signage around the school, recommending masks.
“We’re just trying to keep people aware of it,” Elfrink said.
In addition to recommending masks and encouraging people to social distance – which Elfrink said shouldn’t be a problem in the fall, as crowds aren’t nearly as big – they’re designating seats for visitors and the home team. The visiting crowd will be seated in the bleachers, and the home crowd will sit in the chair-backed seats.
Elfrink said the school is continuing to follow the guidelines put in place by the county health department and the CDC.
Attempts to reach the athletic directors at Reeds Spring and Forsyth were not successful as of press time.
We will continue to update this story online with more information from other area schools as it becomes available, or as needed.
Looking ahead: Next week’s schedule
Monday, August 31
Branson Softball vs Glendale
Branson Girls Tennis @ Bolivar
Forsyth Volleyball @ Skyline
Blue Eye Volleyball vs Berryville
Tuesday, September 1
Branson Girls Golf @ Springfield Catholic
Branson Boys Soccer vs Carthage
Branson Softball @ Weaubleau
Branson Girls Tennis vs Ozark
Branson Volleyball @ Logan-Rogersville
Reeds Spring Softball @ Republic
Reeds Spring Girls Tennis vs Bolivar
Blue Eye Baseball vs Sparta
Blue Eye Volleyball @ Cassville
Thursday, September 3
Branson Girls Golf vs Ozark
Branson Boys Soccer vs Springfield Catholic
Branson Girls Tennis vs Joplin
Branson Girls Volleyball vs Lebanon
Hollister Volleyball vs Spokane
Reeds Spring Softball @ Nevada
Reeds Spring Girls Tennis @ Aurora
Reeds Spring Volleyball @ Seneca
Forsyth Girls Tennis @ Parkview
Forsyth Girls Volleyball vs Strafford
Friday, September 4
Branson Football @ Ozark
Hollister Football @ Nevada
Reeds Spring Football @ Lamar
Reeds Spring Girls Tennis @ Parkview Tournament
Forsyth Football @ Buffalo
Forsyth Girls Tennis @ Waynesville Invitational