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Smaller crowds: Only 4 guests per player allowed at Bend-La Pine games, other events

(Update: Adding video, comments from school officials, students and athletes)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The crowds for basketball games and all other extracurricular activities are going to look a little smaller for Bend-La Pine Schools, at least for now. 

The district just updated its spectator policy due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, allowing each player, coach or club member four guest passes per game, with no open admission.

The announcement was part of the district's Friday "Key Updates" due to COVID-19, as officials also warned families to prepare for a potential return to remote learning due to cases, quarantines and staff shortages.

Whitney Tone, a junior girls basketball player, said Monday the limit will have an effect on the team.

“I think it will be a little bit harder, because the student section gives you energy and makes the game more fun,” Tone said. 

Dave Williams, athletic director for Bend-La Pine Schools and Caldera High, said the move comes in response to the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority letter calling for more Covid guidelines, and even the cancellation of some extra-curriculars.

“The big crowds are going to be limited, and the atmosphere will definitely change, but we're going to keep the kids playing, the coaches coaching and press on through,” Williams said. 

He said this is the best option to keep kids playing and also keep them in school.

The students and athletes have been dealing with change for almost two years. 

In March of 2020 having no sports, then bringing sports with no fans a year later, adding few spectators, working all the way up to having full capacity this past fall -- and now back to only having a few spectators allowed.

Kate Koblegarde, a junior at Bend High and manager for the boys basketball team, is surprised this level of spectators is even allowed. 

“Well, before, when Covid was a lot better than it is now, the limit was two people. So I’m kind of in shock that they’re letting each player have four people now,” Koblegarde said.

Tone said the past two years have been tough to navigate.

 “It’s been super weird,” she said. “This year was getting back to normal pretty much, with us getting to go to the Salem schools, which is nice. But we're going back to it again.” 

Koblegarde and Tone know what a lack of fans can do for their teams. 

“Sometimes it's a make or break of giving the team energy and getting through the game, getting a comeback. So it definitely can affect the players,” Koblegarde said. 

And some students, including Bend High sophomore Jack Steinman, aren't happy about it either. 

“I mean if we’re going to get it (COVID), we're going to get it at school. Same people at the games doesn’t really make sense to me,” Steinman said.

He said he enjoys going to the games, but it’s unlikely he’ll get an invite from a player. 

But Koblegarde and Tone say they feel at this time, it's the safe thing to do.  

 “Yeah, I think it's the right move, because people are always sitting really close to each other in the student section,” Koblegarde said. 

“I know a lot of people who have gotten COVID recently, and I think it could be dangerous,” Tone chimed in.

Williams said the district will reevaluate in three to four weeks, and he hopes to get more students safely back in the gym.

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.



    1. There’s nothing rational or science based about this decision. If you’re freaked out, stay home. The rest of us will go on living our lives. These type of decisions are only screwing with our kids’ heads and accomplishing nothing else.

      1. Seriously? If you can’t trust science, what can you trust? Protecting the children is paramount here. No one is taking away your freedoms by using carefully tested peer reviewed data to make these kind of tough decisions.

        1. This isn’t science, it’s virtue signaling. I’d like to see this carefully tested peer reviewed data you referenced that justifies the limits for school sports, while at the same time allows us to pack restaurants without a masks.

  1. Important question that should have been asked. Can one kid give his ‘tickets’ to another kid, if he doesn’t have family to use them? and, if not, why not? Seems like a no-brainer.

  2. I really want to know the “science” behind this, when 1500 people are inside the Walmart down the road, sneezing and coughing and licking their nose.

  3. Clearly Oregon’s version of the virus is MUCH more dangerous that many other states around the country. As such, it is incredibly important that you trust the government to make your decisions for you and protect you from yourself.

    1. Mmm that’s true but remember you’ll be fine once you lower yourself a couple feet in altitude into your restaurant chair at which point the virus mysteriously becomes neutralized.

  4. now its stay home save lives for the jabbed that still have to wear masks… operation lockstep 2010 pg 18 describes everything happening now to the T. including the escaped virus from a wuhan lab.. the spars pandemic 2025-2028 89 pgs is the script for the future where coronavirus becomes spars and they have a jab called v-max. A lot of patents are online for the injectables in relation to a behavioral control system where the potency of the injection one recieves is based on behavior not illness.. patent US2021/0082583 A1

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