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Great Falls Public Schools is not planning to alter athletic event policies at this point

Posted at 9:55 AM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 11:55:01-04

Despite the recent reports of several confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Great Falls Public School district, GFPS Director of Athletics Mike Henneberg says the plan is to stick with the status quo at sporting events, at least for now.

“We don’t feel that having that having spectators and having events is having an effect on the number of positive cases,” Henneberg explained. “So, until we really feel that that’s a contributing factor, I think we’ll continue to operate as normal.”

Even though Great Falls High School had all their students in remote learning on Monday and Tuesday, there was still a crosstown soccer match on Tuesday night between the Bison and the Rustlers of C.M. Russell High School.

Henneberg said that just because a school might not be open for in-person learning on a particular day due to reported cases of COVID-19, that does not necessarily mean that any sporting events involving that school will be canceled.

“What could happen is, depending on how the cases play out if we have a number of members of one team that are maybe quarantined, or if we start to have positive cases within the athletic teams, then that (canceling or postponing games) would certainly have to be a consideration,” said Mike. “Based on what our numbers are and so on and so forth. I don’t see that happening that, if a school goes remote, but again it’s going to be up to individual districts and how they choose to handle those situations.”

Current GFPS Athletic Event Guidelines include a screening process that all individuals connected to, or in attendance of, the event may be asked to complete. That screening may include questions related to your current state of physical health. Hand sanitizing stations have been made available in all facilities. All participants, spectators, and game personnel must wear a mask or face covering for the duration of the event AND maintain appropriate physical distancing of 6 feet at all times. Exceptions do exist for family members in the stands, and also players participating in the contest. Those players will not be required to wear a mask when they are actively involved in competition or immediately recovering.

Other policies include requiring visiting teams to submit a complete list of participants and game personnel that will be in attendance. The district says that this list will assist in contact tracing if a any confirmed cases are traced back to that event. Also, all players and coaches are expected to follow the MHSA’s guidelines for physical distancing when applicable throughout the duration of the contest.

Henneberg did say that officials have noticed some people not complying with mask or other policies at some events, but added that, for the most part, both home and visiting teams and fans have been good at abiding by the policies that the district has put in place.