Published December 17, 2020

WILL TAYLOR and the Hornet boys’ basketball team started practice this week along with the rest of winter sports at NRHS. The boys’ hoop team will start their season on the road, Jan. 5 at Hamilton-Wenham. (File Photo)

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) recently updated its guidelines for high school, youth and adult amateur athletics.

The EEA confirmed that all sports scheduled to play in the Cape Ann League’s winter season (basketball, hockey, gymnastics, swimming) will be allowed. They also reiterated that facial coverings will be required in all sports.

The guidelines also touched on long-awaited rules regarding spectators. There are capacity limits for indoor competitions but spectators are allowed to attend games so long as there are viewing areas that allow for at least six feet of social distancing and the presence of spectators plus players, coaches, referees and facility workers does not cause the facility to exceed more than 40 percent of the maximum occupancy. Spectators are limited to two adults and siblings of a participating player.

While this would appear to be good news regarding parents being able to attend indoor competitions this winter, individual leagues will still decide their own policies regarding fans. The Cape Ann League is currently allowing individual schools to make their own decisions on fans at school locations. Like all CAL schools, North Reading is starting with no fans for the first few weeks before re-evaluating. Most leagues in the area have come to the same conclusion that spectators won’t be allowed to start the season.

The EEA guidelines at least offer leagues with some recommendations so they can focus first on making sure sports are played before revisiting policies about fans in accordance with state guidance.