INDIANAPOLIS — With the return of fall sports and Friday night football, one area school system is setting out guidelines for fans, while many others are only making recommendations.
Indianapolis Public Schools is restricting indoor crowds to 25% capacity and outdoor crowds to 50%. Indoor fans will also have to wear masks. Outdoor fans are encouraged to social distance and wear masks when they cannot, but masking is not required.
“We want to make sure we keep safety first for our community, our students and our families in IPS,” said Darren Thomas, the IPS District Director of Athletics.
IPS is in the minority when it comes to these kinds of precautions, though. Many schools CBS 4 reached out to have no restrictions on capacity.
Spokespeople for MSD Lawrence TWP, Noblesville Schools and Center Grove Community Schools, Hamilton Southeastern Schools and AVON Community School Corporation all said they have no capacity restrictions for outdoor sports.
Thomas said at IPS they want to do their best to prevent any future issues.
“We can kind of see some things coming and we don’t want to fall victim or see cases come from our events,” he said.
Dr. Ram Yeleti, the Chief Physician Executive at Community Health Network, said he would suggest schools cap attendance somewhere below capacity, so people are better able to spread out.
“Maybe not six feet but some reasonable distancing if possible,” he said.
Yeleti said it’s a different story for people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 vs. people who aren’t.
“If you’re vaccinated and don’t have a lot of high-risk health issues, you’re actually in pretty good shape,” he said.
For those who are unvaccinated or have high-risk health issues, Yeleti said you need to take more precautions if you plan on going to the games.
“If you’re unvaccinated and have a lot of health issues, I would think twice about going to the game,” Yeleti said.
Getting into the gym, Yeleti said indoor sports are whole different scenario, and schools should have precautions in place on capacity and more.
“Probably 50%, definitely everybody vaccinated or not vaccinated, everybody should be wearing a mask,” Yeleti said. “Limit eating inside, enjoy the ball game and then go home after that.”
In IPS schools, masks will be required, and capacity is at 25% for indoor crowds.
Thomas said there is a big difference between a football arena and a gymnasium.
“Capacity is not even comparable, there is so much more space to spread out when we’re outdoors,” Thomas said.
Yeleti said COVID will be around for years, so the best thing you can do is get vaccinated, be safe and have fun cheering on your team.
“It’s different but we need to get back to some normal life and we’ve got to be able to enjoy these games,” Yeleti said.
Thomas said despite the precautions, they’re excited for the season ahead.
“Our kids are looking forward to getting out there and playing some ball, so, of course, safety first but we’re doing it for our students and our community,” he said.
As for the fans, Yeleti said people need to be safe, but shouldn’t stay cooped up in their homes.
“This COVID is going to be with us for years to come, so we need to figure out how we’re going to live with it,” Yeleti said. “We just can’t shelter at home all the time so I think if you’re vaccinated take some reasonable precautions and I think you can get back to some normal life,” he said.