The minutes of the Kansas State High School Athletics Association December 8 vote to allow limited attendance at winter sports doesn’t disclose how board members voted, but the Sentinel obtained the list available here.

On Dec. 8, KSHSAA overturned its November 24 vote banning attendance and decided to allow two parents/guardians to attend winter athletic events after voting late last month to deny parents an opportunity to watch their children play for at least the first two months of the season.

On a 54-21 vote with three abstentions, ” … through January 28, 2021, interscholastic activities will allow for attendance of up to two parents/guardians per participant(s) family as allowed by local board of education or health department restrictions.”

The Sentinel’s analysis of the votes shows 27 board members who originally voted to ban attendance changed their position and voted to permit limited attendance; 21 who voted in November to ban attendance voted maintained their opposition to attendance and two who originally voted against attendance — Greg Koelsch and Mary Stewart — abstained from voting this time.  Delvin Strecker didn’t vote on the original ban but voted to allow spectators this time.

No board members who had originally voted for allowing spectators changed their votes.

It was a decision, John Hill, a Blue Valley parent who led much of the outcry, applauded.

“We are very happy with the KSHSAA decision to allow up to two parents/guardians to attend an event,” Hill said. “We are thankful to those that changed their vote as the vote count basically flipped from the initial decision to ban spectators.  

“We were able to attend our son’s Varsity basketball game on Saturday.  We and other parents followed the masking and social distancing rules and the environment felt totally safe.   Overall, the current approach seems to be a reasonable balance between mitigating the virus and allowing our kids to participate in their winter sports with the support of their family.”

Just one explanation of vote

The Sentinel reached out to all 50 board members who voted originally voted against spectators in November for comment, and received only one reply.

Eureka Junior/Senior High Principal Sean Spoonts, who is also the Tri Valley League representative to KSHSAA, said he was representing the way his league voted.

“I voted as a (Board of Directors) rep of the TVL,” he said via email. “Our league voted to not allow fans in the gym.  Eureka, along with two other schools in the league voted for limiting fans.  The others voted to not have fans.  Our vote represents how the eight schools in the league voted. I also voted for a roll call vote. “

Following an outcry from parents, including a petition which garnered nearly 10,000 signatures, the KSHSAA Appeals Board on Dec. 4 voted 7-1 to return the measure to the full board for reconsideration, writing: “Because masks are already required for attendance at KSHSAA events, and because the science tells us that proper mask wearing and social-distancing effectively mitigate the risk of transmitting COVID-19, and because we believe that for several reasons, parents should attend their children’s activities, we propose the KSHSAA Board of Directors be reconvened for the purposes of reconsidering the decisions to prohibit spectators at high school and junior high/middle school events through January 28, 2021 with a recommendation to allow for attendance of one or two parents/guardians per athlete.”

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