Following a change to the public health order on Thursday, March 4, spectators will be allowed to witness high school sports this spring after all.
How many spectators will be allowed depends on where the host county sits within the red to turquoise framework established by the state which determines the extent of COVID-19 restrictions in each county, based on cases per 100,000 and the positivity rate.
Under yellow, where Valencia County sat as of Monday, March 8, spectators would be allowed at outdoor events only, with capacity capped at 25 percent.
In the event Valencia County moves to the green, which would mean both a positivity rate under five percent and fewer than eight cases per 100,000, capacity at outdoor sporting events would be pushed to 50 percent and spectators would be allowed into indoor events, such as volleyball, basketball and wrestling at 25 percent of capacity.
The county will have one opportunity to move into the green before games are scheduled to begin for local high schools with the update that occurred on Wednesday, March 10, after the News-Bulletin deadline.
Athletes from the three local high schools could potentially be competing as early as Monday, March 15.
“It makes sense to align student athletics with what’s now permissible in the current public health order,” Public Education Department secretary Ryan Stewart said.
“We understand the importance of sports in the lives of our students, families and communities. We encourage participation in sports by students as a healthy outlet and by parents as supportive spectators. At our core, we want to keep athletes and families safe.”
A move to turquoise under the tier system, which requires a county to remain in the green for a month, would open things up even further. Under turquoise, outdoor events would be allowed to have 75 percent of capacity, while indoor events would be able to have 33 percent capacity.
In the event the county was to move back to red, no spectators would be allowed at events.
Neither Los Lunas Schools nor Belen Consolidated Schools has finalized a plan for how they will distribute tickets, but both districts intend to prioritize family members to allow parents to see their athletes play.
For all three county high schools, the first football game will be on Saturday, March 20. Game dates for all other fall sports are still up in the air.