With school now officially in session, high school sports are already underway, according to the Executive Director of the Montana High School Association, Mark Beckman, who said school athletic directors have been working hard to protect student athletes.

“Any time any of our student athletes are on the field or on the court or on a golf course that if they are not participating actually in the game at that time they will wear masks,” said Beckman. “We will have them social distance even on the football sideline where before they could only spread out to the 25 yard lines which was the national rule. They have adjusted that to go all the way to spread the teams out to the 10 yard lines.”

Beckman said the rules have also been adjusted for volleyball.

“In volleyball we won't be changing sides, like usually is done after every game in a set,” he said. “We have all kinds of precautions, like in cross country there will masks until they actually begin to run, and they'll be put into team areas and then to a staging area for the ones who are going to be racing the next race.”

We are trying to figure out what we can do to best protect the players and the parents then and everyone else that might be involved.

Beckman said OPI Superintendent Elsie Arntzen and other high school sports officials have reached out to local county health departments for guidance on allowing spectators, or even parents to attend games.

“We’re asking them to at least consider adding a parent or two parents from each team,” he said. “Both the home team and the visiting team to attend and our reasoning is for in case of emergency medical issues, or a serious injury, that there's a parent there. For example, if there was long distance travel that there would be a parent there instead of having to take hours to get to the site, or maybe to go to the hospital.”

COVID 19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr told KGVO News that Health Officer Ellen Leahy will be releasing that guidance later this week.

“There are a lot of things that have to be really considered whenever we're looking at guidance around sporting events,” said Farr. “That's why it's taking us a little bit of time to work through. We are trying to figure out what we can do to best protect the players and the parents then and everyone else that might be involved in that.”

Leahy did not have to make any difficult decisions over college football because the Big Sky Conference cancelled the fall football season before it started.

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