CONWAY – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Granite State, some members of the Conway School Board are wondering if a limited number of spectators should be allowed to continue attending Kennett High’s basketball and ice hockey games at home.
Spectators are not permitted at high school events, but in high school, athletes are allowed to bring two adult family members or one adult and one under the age of 18 to home basketball games at Peter Ames Gymnasium and hockey games at Arena Ham.
“Has there been any discussion about when we will no longer allow spectators into the building?” board member Jessica Whitelaw asked at Monday’s meeting.
“We’re constantly monitoring it,” said fellow board member Michelle Capozzoli, who chairs the co-curricular committee.
The board has voted unanimously to let the winter sports season begin at Kennett High School and Kennett Middle on December 14. Training started the next day for the Eagles.
To deal with winter athletics, the board authorized Inspectors Kevin Richard and Capazzoli and board member Randy Davison to meet fortnightly with KHS Principal Kevin Carpenter, Athletics Director Neal Weaver, KMS Principal Rick Biche and Gredel Shaw Middle School athletics coordinator.
Currently, each of the 13 members of the university and university junior men’s and women’s basketball teams, along with 15 members of the hockey team may have two family members attending home games. No visiting visitors are allowed.
Spectators, who must always wear masks, are given a designated time to arrive at Kennett before the match. Once in the gym, each individual should have their body temperature checked, provide a contact tracing phone number, and answer three COVID-screening questions about out-of-the-way travel and whether they have symptoms of the virus.
Guests have assigned seats on benches with their names or assigned numbers. They must remain seated during the match.
“Our winter sports safety procedures are working well so far,” Weaver shared in an email Wednesday. “From contact tracing and pre-screening / temperature check inquiries upon arrival, wearing face masks all the time, and 6 feet of social distancing and assigned seating, everyone has bought and is grateful that we can allow two close family members per Kennett athlete to attend and watch. “
JV audiences followed the same protocol as university audiences when there was an opposing team. After the JV game was over, the gym was cleaned and cleaned, and it was 30 minutes before university goers were allowed in and started their screenings.
“I think I have concerns just seeing community cases increase and knowing that children are being quarantined more and more frequently,” Whitelaw said.
“I feel a little worried that we are allowing spectators in our building. I like the fact that we have sports. Sports work is not my problem. The audience makes me a little nervous. I’ll be totally honest, I just feel like it’s risky. “
“I share Jessica’s concerns,” said board chairman Joe Lentini.
Carpenter replied: “If you ever go in and look at the protocol, people are only 6 feet away and they are masks. We haven’t seen any issues with this yet. People really respect all protocols. “
He added: “If we continue to see an increase in numbers, I understand the conversation, but at this point, we feel like what we’ve done with the audience has worked so far. We will definitely continue to monitor the situation. “
There is good news for fans of the flock back home – home games are being streamed live for free on Kennett’s YouTube channel. The match averages between 50-100 spectators.
“For those who can’t be with us, the live stream of our basketball game on Kennett Athletic’s YouTube channel is very popular and well received,” Weaver said, praising the efforts of Chris McCracken (student safety coordinator) and Abbey Donaldson (graphic arts teacher), who helps facilitate live streaming.
No school north of Kennett High allows fans to watch their games. Berlin Athletics Director Craig Melanson said Wednesday his school board made the decision not to allow spectators, home or away, to attend Mountaineer hockey or basketball games.
“They will only allow yearbook staff, the NSN (who live broadcast our game) and one local press person from the Berlin Sun (Steve Enman) and / or the Berlin Reporter. The only out-of-town personnel allowed are the opposing team’s Army or the head of the school, “he said in an email.
After discussions, the Conway board decided it would monitor the situation and determine on a week-by-week basis whether to continue to allow fans at matches.