Superintendents, activity directors, and student athletes in the Northeast Iowa Conference (NEIC) have issued a clear message for fans: “Wear a face covering.” 

In a statement released Monday, Nov. 16, NEIC states that in a 7-0 vote, leadership now requires fans to wear a face covering at indoor sporting events. Face coverings need to be worn as fans enter the building and remain on while indoors. The NEIC will enforce this procedure during basketball, wrestling and bowling season.

Details on face covering enforcement include: applies to all fans of indoor contests in conference and non-conference match-ups; applies for all high school and middle school contests; must wear a face covering to enter the gymnasium; face coverings must cover your nose and mouth; face coverings should be worn the entire time a fan is in the building; fans who do not wear a face covering may be asked to leave.

This procedure, said NEIC, “is in place to provide our students the best opportunity to have a successful, uninterrupted, full season. Teams across the state had to temporarily suspend their fall season due to local COVID outbreaks. This procedure helps keep our students and spectators safe while allowing them the best opportunities to support their student athletes in person. Limiting access to games is another solution if fans are not able to properly wear face coverings.”

The Decorah Community School District is a member of NEIC and released its own statement Tuesday, Nov. 17, outlining regulations that spectators at contests must follow to include:

• If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days, please do not attend.

• Facility access and bleacher seating will be granted to two spectators per participant in accordance with the Governor of Iowa’s health proclamation from Nov. 10. A system will be in place for all NEIC for pass cards to be given to each participant in accordance with the number of spectators allowed per participant. Cards must be presented in order to gain access and for the opportunity to pay admission to the event they are wishing to attend. When admission is granted, all spectators will be required to physically distance themselves at events according to their family unit.

• All schools will be charging for events. Attendees are asked to plan accordingly and if possible, bring exact change to the event you are attending. Admission will be as follows: basketball and wrestling will be $5 for adults and $3 for students, swimming will accept a free will donation when spectators are allowed, no spectators will be allowed at bowling. Punch passes will be available at the high school office and event admission locations.

“As we have seen throughout the last nine months, we must be adaptable to the COVID-19 mitigation strategies schools have implemented with help from County Public Health Departments. This winter will be unlike any other winter sports season we will have ever experienced and we should be thankful that our student athletes get an opportunity to do something they truly enjoy,” stated the DHS news release. “Regardless of the requirements, we ask that you remain respectful and compliant when you visit all school and private facilities for events. The public health officials, school administrators and coaches who have developed these strategies are doing their best and are working hard to create a safe and healthy environment. Spectators not following social distancing and/or behavioral expectations will be asked to leave the contest.”

For those wishing to watch the contests online, all home basketball games will be streamed online via the NFHS Network. Streaming information for each contest at home and away will be pushed out weekly via social media and when available on the school’s activities webpage.