Garretson Schools to Ease Fan Restrictions at School Events

Our main priorities throughout this school year have been to keep our students and staff safe, to keep our school open and to give our students the opportunity to participate in school-sponsored activities.  With these goals in mind, the District moved to limit the attendance at winter home events in order to decrease the likelihood that school staff or students would contract COVID-19 at a school event.  The data for the month of January indicates a downward trend in the number of cases in the state and county compared to the spike in November and December.  Our next varsity home event is the Boys and Girls basketball doubleheader against Vermillion on January 22.  If local data continues to indicate flat or decreasing infection rate, our plan is to lift the restriction on the number of fans in attendance at this, and subsequent events.  The District will continue to monitor data sets from the SD Dept of Health, the SD Dept of Education, Minnehaha County and local information, and will adjust the plan as necessary throughout the winter seasons.  District patrons should check the school’s website for further adjustments and/or updates related to the pandemic. 

While we will not limit the number of fans in attendance, the District does have the following expectations for fans while in attendance at school events:

  1. Attendance at extra curricular events is voluntary, and as such, fans who attend assume the risk for taking precautions that will keep them safe. 
  2. Fans are expected to keep appropriate distance between themselves and others at all times when attending Garretson School District events.  Fans are responsible for their own proximity to other fans.
  3. The use of a face covering is highly recommended for people attending the event.
  4. Fans are expected to be in the stands and seated.  Fans will not be allowed to loiter in the hallway, lobby, stand in doorways or generally be outside the normal seating areas. 
  5. All Children in grades 5 and under must be accompanied by an adult at all times.  Children in grades k-5 are expected to be seated with their parents.  Children must be accompanied to the restroom & concessions area by a responsible adult. 
  6. Students in grades 6-12 are expected to be seated in the student section, or if they prefer, with a parent. Students seated in the student section are expected to wear a face covering at all times.  Students may only be out of their section for bathroom and concessions and will not be allowed to run free in the facilities.
  7. There will be no fan / player mingling after the event.  At the conclusion of the event, all spectators are expected to remain in the stands until the teams have left the floor or field.  Fans are then expected to leave the facility immediately after teams make their exit
  8. All team personnel will exit the gym at the conclusion of the event, and will not return to the gymnasium. 

We thank you for your patience as we make adjustments based on the present conditions.

Sportsmanship – We’re On It!

By Chris Long – GMS/GHS Principal

GMS and GHS activities are off and running.  Wrestling and girls’ and boys’ basketball have had multiple contests to this point.  They all have a slight hiatus as the holiday moratorium on practices runs Dec. 23-27 and all will resume with contests at different times over the break.  Good luck to all our coaches and athletes.

While we are on activities, it’s good to bring up a nationwide problem and something that is not immune to us here in South Dakota…..and Garretson.


Nationwide, including South Dakota, there is a shortage of sports officials.  This shortage is not unique to one particular area or sport, but rather a consistent and persistent issue that is challenging school and state activity associations.

It’s not an obvious problem for those that come to watch the contests, but behind the scenes there are many things that have changed to ensure contests continue as planned.  There have been schools that have been forced to change contest dates in order to find officials, officials have had to work in multiple locations on the same day and even the trend to schedule basketball doubleheaders has been partly due to the availability of officials.

The question that most probably have is “WHY?”.

We have an official shortage because of how officials are treated.  Not by coaches, not by players…but by the fans.

As a 20+ year official myself, I’ve seen it all.  I’ve seen officials come and go (I can count at least 25 that I know myself quit all or partly due to the negative experiences of fan abuse).  Recently I was able to participate in a podcast about officiating created by Sacred Hoops director, Alan Bertram, a long-time basketball coach in South Dakota.  One of his main reasons for the podcast was to shine a light on the issue of the shortage of officials and to hopefully enlighten others on some of the misconceptions associated with officiating.  The link for that podcast is below.

According to the most recent issue of “HST – High School Today” (November 2019) in an article written by Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, and executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), schools all over the nation are being forced to address the issue of fan behavior towards officials, coaches, players and opponents.  Recent examples of poor fan behavior have led to groups of fans and even entire student sections being removed from high school contests.  A link to that entire article be found below.

As a district, we met with our entire 9-12 student body prior to our winter sports and talked about sportsmanship and expectations in regards to how we treat the officials and our opponents when attending activities.  Our students are aware that taunts, obscenities and other inappropriate behavior directed towards anyone will result in removal from the contest and possible consequences for future contests.

If you have attended Garretson home events in the past you have and will continue to notice expectations for our fans in the programs for our events.

It reads:

Sportsmanship- The Fan’s Role


The spectators at an athletic contest have an extremely important role in displaying good Sportsmanship.  As a group, your actions may have the biggest impact on how others see the reputation of your school and community. Please respect that a ticket is a privilege to observe the contest, not a license to verbally assault others or be generally obnoxious; Respect both players and fans of opposing teams, Know and understand the rules of the game, and Respect the decisions of an official and admire their willingness to publicly officiate student-athletes in the best interest of interscholastic sports.

We hope that all our fans, students and adults alike strive to exhibit respectful words and actions towards all the participants of our activities as detailed in the passage above.  It’s important to understand that our words and actions, especially as adults, are setting the example for our students and athletes – they are watching.

Prior to every contest our public address announcer reads the following statement:

“We are pleased to welcome you this evening to Garretson High School. This contest is being conducted under the guidance and regulation of the South Dakota High School Activities Association for the enjoyment and educational benefit of high school students. Good sportsmanship is essential for the success of these programs. Remember, you do not have to be an athlete to be a Good Sport!

We encourage you to cheer loud, support you team and be entertained by the abilities of our student athletes.  Realize that mistakes will be made by everyone…yes, even the officials.

Remember that even when they’re right, someone thinks they’re wrong.

Thanks for supporting the Blue Dragons.  Below are some additional resources in regards to sportsmanship and officiating.  The SDHSAA is always looking for officials, if you have an interest there is a link below for that as well.  There is also a great video below expressly for parents, called the “Parent’s Seat” from the NFHS.  Be sure to check that out!

One final reminder, you may have seen this in one of our area gyms….

Let the Coaches COACH.

Let the Players PLAY.

Let the Officials OFFICIATE.

Let the Fans be POSITIVE!

Happy Holidays and GO BLUE DRAGONS!


High School Today Article:

Memo to Parents:

The Parent Seat (Article):


The Parent Seat (Video):

Sacred Hoops Podcast:

How to become an official (SDHSAA):

Really, What do you do at “Inservice?”

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a parent in the District.  In our conversation, he told me that he received the notification reminding him of our 1:30 dismissal today for “teacher inservice.”  Next, he asked, “what do you guys do at ‘inservice?’  What is it, really?”  I am so glad he asked!  I am certain that he wasn’t the only parent in the district wondering the same thing.

In our District this year, we have three full days and seven 1:30 dismissals for “teacher inservice,” or professional development. The specific agenda for each session is set by the school administration, with direction and consultation with a committee of five teachers along with the principals, technology director and the superintendent.  The specifics regarding each professional development experience is determined based on a variety of factors.

The early dismissals will follow along with two main sets of priorities.  The first is to build skills in teaching, specifically focused on using technology as a tool for students learning, and the use of real-world, project-based learning experiences for our students in the classroom.  We plan to build these development experiences as collaborative time where we work together to learn from one another.  The second priority is to use our time in the analysis of student achievement data, and then ask that key question… now that we know this, what do we do about it?  We plan to use a variety of data points in order to see where our students are at compared to where we believe that they should be and then work together to design plans to do something about it.  Those plans may be designed for the individual student, for the classroom, grade, or possibly even the school as a whole.

The full-day inservice experiences are designed around a variety of priorities.   Our specific plan for the October 5thfull-day experience is not yet set in stone, but we do know that we will spend our time in three main areas.  We plan to spend about 1/3 of the day taking a deep look at our student achievement data. We plan to dig down into the data standard-by-standard to identify trends in that data to show us strengths and areas for growth within our curriculum.  Another 1/3 of the time will be spent improving our skills in the use of technology to enhance our students’ experience in the classroom, and the last 1/3 of the time will be spent training all staff in first-aid procedures, CPR, the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) that is on-site, the use of epi-pens in case of a severe allergic reaction and also the use of Narcan in the case of an opioid overdose on or near school grounds.

Our intent with respect to professional development is to help our staff to grow in ways that directly have an impact on our students in the classroom.  We are very aware that time spent in training may cause some inconvenience for our families, but we believe that the payoff for that inconvenience is that we become more effective in the classroom.   We appreciate your patience and understanding as we use this time to learn with and from one another as we work to fulfill our mission – to prepare every student to meet the challenges of learning, living and leading in a changing world.