ABILENE – In response to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Abilene and in consultation with local health officials, the Abilene ISD will limit attendance at home basketball games and other extracurricular activities through the remainder of the 2020-21 school year to help reduce further spread of the virus. The new protocols will go into effect Monday, Nov. 30.

The school district will restrict spectators at each home game in the AISD (middle school through varsity) in an effort to increase social distancing in gyms across the district. Crowd sizes will also be limited for district fine arts performances beginning next month.

Entrance into varsity boys and girls basketball games at both Abilene High and Cooper will be limited to up to four members of the same household per participant. Those participants include coaches, players, managers, filmers, trainers and cheerleaders.

Entrance into sub-varsity boys and girls basketball games at the high schools and at all middle school games will be limited to two members of the same household per participant.

No outside spectators, including students who aren’t on the family pass list, will be admitted to any basketball game this season in the AISD.

“As we have said since last spring, we will lean on the advice of the medical community, and we have made these decisions after consultation with our district medical director (Dr. Rob Wiley),” AISD Superintendent Dr. David Young said. “We have maintained that we would be diligent in monitoring trends in COVID cases –  whether they be on campus or in the community – and how those might affect the AISD.

“Like everyone else, we have seen the numbers in our community continue to rise, and we want to do our part to mitigate the spread of this virus,” Dr. Young said. “We’re putting these protocols in place right now to ensure that games and other events can take place safely and that the attendance of family members is still possible. We also know that if these new rules aren’t followed the alternative is that we will be playing games and hosting performances without spectators.”

The first high school games under these new rules will be Tuesday, Dec. 1, when the Abilene High girls host Cooper at Eagle Gym. The district is working out details to be able to stream all home games for each high school team whether through the AISD-TV Facebook page, YouTube or other platforms.

Other protocols for Basketball
• The AISD will not charge admission for any basketball game during the season. Instead, spectators for home and visiting teams will be on a family admission list at each entrance of each gym throughout the district.

• Masks are required to be worn by all spectators.

• Fans will be required to sit in areas for seating only in order to maintain proper social distancing.

• Concession stands will be closed so fans are invited to bring their own unopened bottle of water.

• Each gym will be cleared between games at every level.

• Cheerleading and drill team protocols will be worked out on each high school campus.

• The AISD Athletics Department will contact visiting school districts to inform them of the admission limits and protocols.

Football Protocols
The district is not making any changes right now to its protocols or capacity at football games, in particular because Shotwell Stadium has rarely topped 10 percent capacity for any game this season. Fans will still be required to wear masks, socially distance and use hand-washing stations that are located throughout the stadium.

Abilene High will host Midland High next Friday (Nov. 27) at 2 p.m. Cooper’s final home game is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 3, against Fort Worth Brewer in a game that was postponed earlier this season.