Scottsbluff High School announced a continuation of occupancy limits at outdoor events on Wednesday, bucking phase four of the directed health measures.
In an open letter to the public, SHS principal Justin Shaddick said the decision was made so guests at sports games did not have to wear masks outside since social distancing at the 75% occupancy limit could be enforced.
The decision comes as schools around the U.S. adapt to a school year alongside COVID-19. Schools — and the community gatherings that come with them — are some of the most densely populated spaces in communities and can potentially become hotbeds of disease spread.
As of Sept. 15, there were 8 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Scottsbluff Public Schools staff and students, and six recovered cases within the last 30 days, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard. There have also been 80 staff and students quarantined during that same time.
SHS’s guidelines are stricter than phase four of the Panhandle Public Health Department’s directed health measures, or DHM.
“Our greatest fear at SHS is to host a large event causing an outbreak that jeopardizes our students and staff safety, their ability to participate in the clubs and organizations, and ultimately their ability to attend school face-to-face,” Shaddick wrote in the open letter.
For the upcoming football game on Friday, SHS will enforce the 75 percent occupancy, encourage mask-wearing especially when entering and exiting facilities and use three entrances for fans, and the two teams.
For all upcoming volleyball games, SHS will require masks and require spectators to eat food outside the gym.
For the upcoming Scottsbluff vs. Gering softball games, SHS placed stickers to encourage social distinct in the stands. Once stands reached capacity, fans would be placed along the field.
“Fans should bring lawn chairs in the event they are asked to sit around the perimeter of the softball field,” the open letter read.
While district officials have told the Star-Herald that evaluation of COVID-19 plans happens on a daily bases, the district is set to reevaluate its plan as a whole at the end of September.
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