Cranberry ups its fan count at indoor athletic contests

The number of fans and players who can attend indoor athletic contests at Cranberry High School has been increased.

Cranberry School Board members voted Monday to move up one step to increase the capacity level while remaining firm as to coronavirus-related health directives for school athletic contests.

“We basically have five tiers in our district and we were at tier one,” said Shawn Deemer, the assistant high school principal. “Now we are at tier two. It is a living document, though, based on CDC, Department of Education and other protocols.”

In the first tier, only coaches and athletes were permitted at an event and that number was limited to a maximum of 25 individuals within a designated area. In Cranberry’s case, that area was the gymnasium at the high school.

The 25 number pertained to athletes, coaches and officials, and that often meant some team members as well as junior varsity players were relegated to seats outside the gym.

Spectators weren’t allowed in the gym.

The move to tier two now allows for a 30 percent capacity in the gym. The posted capacity for the gym is 750 people, said Deemer.

“So now we can fit 210 to 215 people within the gym while still following social distancing and face masks requirements,” he said. “So, that is like adding 160 spectators, when the players and others are counted, and we feel comfortable with that.”

Even with the change, attendance will still be limited for the fall indoor sports that include volleyball and junior high girls basketball.

“We will allow four guests per player for the home team and two per player for the visiting team,” said Deemer. “And you will have to get a ticket in advance. We are really gearing this for families. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get some student fans in there, too.”

The attendance limitation for outside athletic events is set at 250 people. As Cranberry has co-op programs for soccer and football with Oil City School District, the rules for crowd size at those events are decided by the Oil City guidelines, said Deemer.

“For us, we have to worry about cross-country outside,” said Deemer. “We are not allowing spectators to be near the start and finish lines. They can spread out along the course and view the race from particular spots. We are keeping to that standard. Our main concern in the first tier was the safety of spectators filling up that chute area.”

There could be more changes coming but those will be determined by health and safety directives.

“When winter comes and things have been going well and there are no new notifications, we may up it to 40 or 50 percent capacity inside. It will be whatever the school administration decides,” said Deemer. “When we worry about capacity, it’s all about the gym with boys basketball, wrestling, girls basketball. People will get that cabin fever and want to reach out. So, depending on a lot of things, we may be able to change the numbers.”