Following a recent relaxation of directed health measures by Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, the Nebraska School Activities Association now is allowing grandparents to attend NSAA-sanctioned events.
The general public still isn’t able to attend the games, meets and other events, however — at least until the next update to NSAA guidelines early next month.
On Friday, Ricketts announced that because statewide hospitalization numbers related to the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, had declined, the state would back down from the orange level to the yellow level in its coronavirus pandemic response plan.
Accordingly, updates to directed health measures took effect Saturday.
While the state was operating in the orange level of the response plan, attendance by fans at both school- and club-sponsored extracurricular activities around Nebraska was restricted to the household members of participants.
Back in the yellow level, however, the state has lifted that particular restriction. Also, the limit on indoor gatherings has increased from 25% to 50% of the space’s rated occupancy.
On Monday, however, NSAA announced it would not go as far as the governor in loosening restrictions on fan attendance at events, at least for the time being.
The association did modify the guidelines to begin admitting grandparents, but won’t admit other fans who aren’t household members, at least through Jan. 4, 2021.
“This decision is based on an abundance of caution as we move through the holiday season,” said Jay Bellar, NSAA executive director, in announcing the decision. “By doing these things now, we are hopeful we can host NSAA winter championships in February and March.”
Under the guidelines as amended, active participants in activities still are permitted, but not required, to wear face coverings during competitions and performances. Coaches and participants not currently on the court, mat or stage are required to wear face coverings at all times.
Spectators are required to wear masks, covering both the nose and mouth, at all times while attending indoor events. They also are required to remain with their household groups and maintain 6 feet of distance from other groups.
Host schools are allowed to establish additional requirements in consultation with the local health department. Such additional requirements must apply the same to all participating schools, officials, judges and spectators.
Non-compliance with regulations can be punished through reprimands, fines, exclusion from the post-season, and other measures.
The NSAA restriction on fan attendance means most students and community members haven’t been allowed to attend basketball games, wrestling meets and other school activities since the winter season began after Thanksgiving. To compensate for that restriction, many schools have redoubled their efforts to get activities streamed online.
Most fans now will continue to be excluded from in-person attendance at activities at least through the end of the year.
The NSAA regularly imposes a moratorium on activities right around Christmas, but many schools participate in holiday tournaments in the days that follow. Many holiday tournaments remain on the schedule for this year, although some schools have decided against taking part.
Bellar said NSAA is trying to support its member schools and their efforts to keep students in school and participating in activities amid a challenging time.