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Any spectator who comes to an event at GHS is required to wear a mask and attendance is now limited to only immediate family members of participants.

As Gothenburg High School prepares for another season of activity, there have been new protocols released in relation to attendance at Swede events.

The administration team at Gothenburg Public Schools has worked extraordinarily hard to ensure the safety of those who come to any event, in any capacity.  GPS Activities Director Marc Mroczek said that there has been an update in those protocols in response to the uptick in Covid cases both locally and statewide.

“Only immediate family members - those who live in the same household of the participant - can attend,” he said. “A pass list will be shared with each school to provide player names with family members from the same household. You must be on the list to be allowed entrance.”

Mrocezk went on to say that family members who come to an event must stay in the gym where their son/daughter/sibling is playing and all children must stay seated with their parents at all times.

While this is certainly not the direction that anyone was hoping as high school sports continue at GPS, it is in line with the Directed Health Measure that went into effect on Nov. 11, stating that extracurricular activities are permitted at 25% capacity for an indoor facility’s applicable rated occupancy.

This means that there are more hurdles to clear for GPS officials who are working to facilitate a safe environment for everyone on the premises, including no concessions at any home games and no food or beverage allowed into the facility by any spectator.

The bleachers at GHS events were marked off during the fall sports season, but with the new protocols and restrictions in place, Mrocezk said the school will operate on the honor system in seating.

“We are expecting parents to sit six feet from others outside of their immediate families,” he said. “When the DHM was at 50% capacity, it was easy to just mark off every other row. Now that we are at 25% it is difficult to do so we are trusting families to sit six feet away from others.”

Another update to this new set of protocols affects the student section, something that has typically been a source of energy for the players on the floor.

“Unfortunately, student sections are not allowed due to the new DHM,” Mroczek said. “All spectators must be immediate family members only living in the same household.”

Attendance is not the only change to activities as the winter sports season approaches. The format for all junior-varsity and varsity boys’ and girls’ basketball games has been adjusted to streamline games and decrease the amount of time in an enclosed space.

Beginning with the Dec. 4th home game against Hershey, the varsity girls and the junior-varsity boys will play at 5:30 p.m. in opposite gyms, followed by the varsity boys and the junior-varsity girls in opposite gyms at 7 p.m.

This format will continue through the entire home basketball season and when the information is available, GPS will communicate the gyms each team will be in.

Earlier this year, the Nebraska Schools Activities Association released winter season guidelines that are established to provide a baseline for schools as they plan their activities in the midst of the Covid pandemic.

The NSAA is requiring that host schools enforce spectators, coaches and non-active participants wear face coverings at all times.  While active participants are permitted to wear face coverings while in competition, it will not be required.

Each host school is tasked with mitigating the risk and provide adequate opportunities for physical distancing procedures for visiting schools, officials, judges and all spectators.

While this news may be a hard pill to swallow for Swede fans, don’t be discouraged.

“We are working out the logistics, but we have new cameras in both gyms to live stream games,” Mroczek said. “It is a HUDL focus camera that is mounted on the wall in the south gym and up above by a beam in the north gym.”

The addition of these cameras and the HUDL program means that practices, games and activities can be recorded and live-streamed.

While it is still to be determined how these events will be streamed, Mroczek said he would make the information available as soon as it is ready for launch.

The primary focus in all of the protocols and requirements released by GPS is simple: the safety of everyone who attends an event, and to keep activities running.

“We are doing all we can to make sure we can keep our kids in activities, Mroczek said.

Coaches and staff take temperatures before every practice and game and disinfect balls and equipment as much as possible.  And due to the nature of indoor activities being closer in contact, Mroczek said they are trusting their coaches and athletes to be honest about how they are feeling.

“The indoor activities could have a higher probability in contracting Covid, but we are trusting all our athletes and coaches to make sure they screen themselves and their athletes prior to practices and games,” he said. “If they might have any symptoms or aren’t feeling well, then they need to go home until they are better. We are trusting that our opponents do the same thing before they travel to Gothenburg.”

Contact Rebecca Steward at rebecca@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.537.9498