Fans are verboten for athletic events at Los Alamos and Academy for Technology and the Classics for the foreseeable future.

Athletics are done for the rest of the week at Las Vegas Robertson and Santa Fe Indian School.

At Santa Fe High and Capital, fans will be welcome but the concession stands will be closed.

St. Michael’s and West Las Vegas are not changing how they operate their athletic events, but they’re keeping their options open.

As the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, athletic programs across the state are trying to balance safety and playing. How they do it, though, varies from school to school. Athletic administrators admit their protocols regarding fan attendance and participation in general could change not just by the day, but by the hour.

Their goal is to ensure athletes can play with as little disruption as possible.

“No one wants to see a shutdown,” West Las Vegas athletic director Richard Tripp said. “But every school is going to do their own thing and what is in the best interest of the student population and their fans.”

But disruptions are hitting the state hard this week. Santa Fe Indian School canceled its athletic events, including its basketball tournament scheduled for this week when it switched to remote learning.

On Tuesday, Las Vegas Robertson announced a halt to all athletic activity for the rest of the week starting Wednesday as it went into remote learning.

With COVID-19 case numbers rising dramatically, topping 3,000 for a week stretch until Tuesday’s figures dipped to 2,932, Santa Fe Public Schools announced Tuesday it would switch to remote learning next week to help slow the tide. The athletic department also announced adjustments on how Santa Fe High and Capital will operate as they try to ride out the latest surge.

District athletic director Marc Ducharme said capacity for athletic events at Capital and Santa Fe High will be limited to 75 percent of the maximum allowable spectators. Also, the district will no longer sell tickets at the door, as fans will be required to purchase tickets online through gofans.co.

Concession stands for indoor athletic events will be closed for the time being, to ensure proper mask-wearing by everyone, Ducharme added.

Previously, fans were allowed to lower their masks to eat and drink, but that led to some to take advantage of that. Some would not finish their food or beverage to keep from covering their faces. Even in events as late as last week, some spectators simply did not wear masks at all or until instructed to by administrators or staff.

Ducharme said anyone who does not wear their mask will be escorted out of the gym without a warning.

“If you’re not wearing your mask, you’re gone,” Ducharme said. “No second chances at all. If we see the mask down, you’ll go with security out the door. We got to.”

Los Alamos and ATC, though, went one step further and closed all events to spectators starting this week. Tuesday saw the Los Alamos girls basketball entertain Robertson, while the Phoenix boys programs took on McCurdy at home. Los Alamos athletic director Ann Stewart said the district’s COVID-19 guidance planned to close venues once coronavirus cases hit a certain threshold, which it met last week.

Stewart said none of the school’s athletic teams were impacted by COVID-19 cases until this week, which indicated the seriousness of the community spread.

“We had been doing pretty good up to now,” Stewart said. “We’re trying to be preventative and figure out what is the best path to follow and do what is best for the kids and keep them safe.”

ATC athletic director Vanessa Maryol said the school made its decision to close athletic events to the public Monday, even though it has seen a small case count. She said with other schools also opting for remote learning as they deal with community spread, it seemed like the right thing to do for everyone involved.

“If other teams are staying at home with their families, who might be quarantining, it seemed like it was best for the safety of students,” Maryol said.

Ducharme, Maryol and Stewart all said these measures are temporary, and could change if cases begin to decline again.

Meanwhile, St. Michael’s AD Kevin Garcia said it will continue to operate as usual, especially because crowds have generally been well spread out and case numbers at the school appear to be small for the time being. He said the school will be quick to respond if needed, especially if the state Public Education Department changes the COVID-19 guidance it provides all schools.

“As we’ve seen, things can change pretty quickly,” Garcia said. “When COVID first hit, we had a meeting that Monday of the state basketball tournament [in 2020], and our president said we were going to stay the course unless something changes that.”

Tripp said he has not discussed any potential changes regarding game-day operations with West Las Vegas School District Superintendent Rick Gutierrez, but added the district would be able to adjust to whatever protocols might come forward.

However, he added that while many districts are focusing on slowing down coronavirus spread within the student population right now, decisions made now could impact the schedule load for the rest of the season. When SFIS canceled its tournament, eight teams scrambled to find replacement opponents for the three games lost.

Some of those games might be made up this week and next week, but scheduling becomes more difficult once district play begins in earnest by the end of the month.

Tripp said more games will be rescheduled or even lost as the pandemic continues, especially once the district season starts. The time crunch will become even more acute for schools.

“You feel bad for what’s happening,” Tripp said. “No one wants to play back-to-back district games or back-to-back games [while] in district. Now, sometimes, you have no choice and you have to play your games or find some place to put them. It gets complicated — like a juggling act.”

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