Faced with spectator limits on indoor prep athletic events, Wilkes County high schools have announced they’ll start livestreaming 2020-21 games on YouTube.

Further, the N.C. High School Athletic Association announced Friday that all players, coaches and spectators attending volleyball games will have to wear masks to limit the spread of COVID-19.

West Wilkes High School responded to the NCHSAA’s 25-spectator limit by creating a YouTube channel called West Wilkes Athletics that the school says will broadcast live athletic events during the pandemic. The channel is at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCATqo75wpLYkb_dh SXRLxnw/?fbclid=IwAR3tfd3xb Efz_7zfT9wBFyG1l125qo7YtwXO BtaE9oCUr_KjWYAMydqasC.

According to West Athletic Director Todd Rutz, there will be no ticket sales to the public for volleyball games this year. “We have sold passes to the parents of our volleyball players,” he said. “The (spectator) limit of 25 for the JV then 25 for the varsity allows us to accommodate all of our parents. All the seats are spoken for with passes. Although we will struggle financially this year, the sale of passes allows us to cover most of the cost for officials and transportation.”

At North, AD Logan Call said Friday the school will be implementing a ticket list for volleyball games, with each volleyball player being allotted two tickets per home game. “We will clear the gym after the JV game for cleaning and then let the varsity parents into the game.”

Viking athletic contests will also be livestreamed on the school’s new YouTube channel, “NWHS Athletics” at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbt4FxoVK1WEyCKtuyYAzjw.

East AD Justin Call said Friday that the 25 spectators at home games will be reserved for home fans only (parents/guardians). “We will clear the gym after the JV game to allow the varsity parents/guardians into the gym for that game. There will be a live stream available online through YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO4uGUV9ywDO3o1XIAjybbA) for anyone that wants to watch online.”

NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker, in a memo last week to county and high school athletic directors, indicated that volleyball games will be limited to 25 spectators, not including the student-athletes, coaches and event workers participating in the game.

Tucker said the NCHSAA reached out to Gov. Roy Cooper for clarification on mass gathering limitations. She said that Cooper’s office advised that indoor high school athletic events could be attended by up to 25 spectators, despite the statewide indoor limit of 10 that Cooper announced on Nov. 10.

Tucker clarified in a statement released Friday that the NCHSAA Board of Directors has implemented the mask mandate for all individuals involved in indoor skill development activities as well as volleyball practice and contests.

“The mask mandate for all indoor skill development activities is the most effective way we currently have to mitigate the risk of (COVID-19) infection, while allowing opportunities for athletic participation to continue.”

The board has not yet decided on the wearing of masks during basketball practice, which officially starts on Dec. 7, Tucker added.

Tucker continued, “Currently, after two weeks of practice, several volleyball teams across the state are in quarantine and will not start their competitive seasons on time due to COVID-19 exposure. With approximately 400 volleyball teams and nearly that number of cross country teams actively participating across the state at this time, we believe it is our responsibility to do all we can to keep this number as low as possible.”

She asked all coaches, student-athletes and administrators to properly social distance during skill development sessions and adhere to the mask mandate. “We all must do our part. It is our hope that by taking these steps now to get COVID-19 under control in all athletic programs, that we give ourselves a chance to offer competitive opportunities in all other sports at their designated times for this school year.”

Tucker noted that up to 100 spectators are allowed to attend outdoor sports such as cross country.

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