by Andrew Garda
With high school sports about to launch into their spring seasons, schools such as Montclair High School and Montclair Kimberley Academy have been determining what restrictions they must put on spectators.
Between fall and winter sports, both schools have gained a lot of experience with handling fan attendance in the world of COVID-19, and they will use that experience to inform the way they manage it this spring.
For MHS Athletics Director Patrick Scarpello, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
“For [outdoor] spring sports we will be allowing two parents/caregivers to attend our games for both home and away teams,” Scarpello said. “All spectators must be masked and remain socially distant for the entire game.”
Different fields do have differing amounts of room for fans. For example, the capacity at Woodman Field, where the MHS girls lacrosse team plays, is far greater than that of the baseball field, whose stands are much smaller.
So it is possible some rules or processes may need to be altered depending on game location, though there are currently no planned adjustments.
While the attendance rules for spring outdoor sports echo what the school did for the fall, the sole indoor sport, boys volleyball, will manage its fans like winter sports did.
Here, capacity is more of an issue, given concerns such as ventilation and social distancing inside.
Boys volleyball will be able have two family/caregivers per student athlete attend home matches but no visiting team family members or fans are allowed at this time.
MKA AD Todd Smith is doing things the same way. The Cougars don’t have a boys volleyball team, so their restrictions are for outdoor sports only.
“We will allow two parent/guardians for each MKA athlete and coach at all home games,” a memo from Smith reads. “Parents will have to present a ‘HOME Game Pass’ if asked by our security personnel or on-site personnel. No other guests or siblings will be permitted on site at this time.”
Faculty members can attend with a “Home Game Faculty Pass”; however, students and fans who aren’t family members are not allowed to attend.
Spectators must wear a mask at all times and remain socially distanced as long as they are at the facility.
Currently, MKA is not allowing family, students or fans of opposing teams to attend Cougars home games.
MKA’s rules apply to the three fields on Academy property — Van Brundt Field, Muenster Field at 40 Upper Mountain Ave. and at the varsity baseball field located at MKA Middle School. They do not apply to places that MKA does not control, such as Brookdale Park, Verona Track, Tuers Park and Nishuane Park, all of which are locations where the track team normally practices and competes.
Both MHS and MKA are looking to stream as many home games as they can, though it will depend on scheduling and, in MKA’s case — as their streaming platform, MKATV, is student-run — availability of students to run the camera.
The Mounties and Cougars have both streamed a wide variety of sports over the course of this school year, from football and swimming to fencing and soccer, so that family members and friends can continue to cheer for and follow their teams even when they cannot be physically present.