The high school winter athletic seasons officially began on Monday, Nov. 22, with Midcoast teams practicing and participating in preseason events.

This is the second straight winter season where COVID-19 has been at the forefront of most conversations.

The winter sports seasons, with venues listed, include basketball (school gymnasiums), wrestling (school gyms), swimming (school or YMCA pools), ice hockey (private rinks), cheering (larger facilities), indoor track (colleges) and skiing (mountains and trails).

Last season, teams mostly stuck to regional schedules (or in swimming’s case, virtual meets) to avoid a potential wider spread of the virus, with those decisions being made in a joint effort by the state and Maine Principals’ Association, which governs member school athletics.

This season, there have been no mandatory guidelines set by the state or MPA regarding the most hot-button topics, including most prominently indoor gathering limits, masking and vaccination/testing policies (in most cases, these things are recommended, not required). That has given area schools the autonomy to put their own policies in place.

Thus, the question for many have been: What does this mean for spectators?

The Courier Publications/VillageSoup sports staff contacted area schools to ask their policies regarding these questions.

Some schools will allow masked spectators to attend home events. Some will not permit visiting fans, while others will allow a certain number of masked spectators/family members, with passes distributed by the athletes.

Suffice to say, points of interest in regards to attending events at area high schools this winter remain unclear.

Midcoast school officials from Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, Oceanside of Rockland, Camden Hills of Rockport, Belfast, Mount View of Thorndike, Searsport, Islesboro, Vinalhaven and North Haven, noted policies are not set in stone and could be subject to change due to a multitude of factors, including, but not limited to, the potential spread of COVID-19 or changes in safety protocols.

As of Monday, Nov. 29, the following were responses from schools regarding pandemic-related athletic policies for the 2021-22 season:

Oceanside

Must your student-athletes be vaccinated or engage in weekly pool testing? Yes.

Are there limits to how many spectators can attend home events and, if so, what is the limit? Each home athlete may invite six people to attend games. Visiting fans are not allowed.

Who must mask indoors at your school/facility? Everyone except for athletes actively participating in the game. Bench players/team personnel/game personnel/referees/spectators must be masked at all times.

Are locker rooms available for home and away teams? Yes.

What do you do if your team goes to a school where those policies are stricter than your current policies? Defer to that school’s/venue’s policies.

Will you offer livestreaming for games? Yes. Vimeo.com/rsu13.

Camden Hills

Must your student-athletes be vaccinated or engage in weekly pool testing? Yes.

Are there limits to how many spectators can attend home events and, if so, what is that limit? No limit. Home and away fans will sit in marked, designated spots to ensure proper social distancing.

Who must mask indoors at your school/facility? Everyone except athletes actively participating in the game. Bench players/team personnel/game personnel/referees/spectators must be masked at all times.

Are locker rooms available for home and away teams? Yes.

What do you do if your team goes to a school where those policies are stricter than your current policies? Defer to that school’s/venue’s policies.

Will you offer livestreaming for games? Yes, through the NFHS network for basketball. Ice hockey will be on Facebook live.

Belfast

Must your student-athletes be either vaccinated or engage in weekly pool testing? No. Both strongly encouraged, but not required.

Are there limits to how many spectators can attend home events? If so, what is that limit? No limit. Home and away fans permitted.

Who must mask indoors at your school/facility? Masks are optional for student-athletes when on the floor. Officials also have the option. Everyone else masking is mandatory.

Are locker rooms available for home and away teams? Yes.

What do you do if your team goes to a school where those policies are stricter than your current policies? Follow the stricter policy.

Will you offer livestreaming for games? Hope to offer live streaming on either RSU71tv channel on Youtube or NFHS.

Medomak Valley

Must your student-athletes be vaccinated or engage in weekly pool testing? Not a requirement, though it is required if players/coaches wish to remove their masks.

Are there limits to how many spectators can attend home events? If so, what is that limit? Each home athlete may invite four people to attend games. Visiting fans not allowed.

Who must mask indoors at your school/facility? All spectators and game day staff must be masked. Players/coaches have the option if they are vaccinated or engage in weekly pool testing.

Are locker rooms available for home and away teams? Yes.

What do you do if your team goes to a school where those policies are stricter than your current policies? Follow the stricter guidelines.

Will you offer livestreaming for games? Yes. LCTV.

Mount View

Must your student-athletes be vaccinated or engage in weekly pool testing? No requirements at this time on pooled testing or vaccinations.

Are there limits to how many spectators can attend home events? If so, what is that limit? Each student-athlete can invite four spectators. All students and staff members will have the opportunity to attend athletic events and these individuals will not count towards a student’s maximum of four spectators.

Who must mask indoors at your school/facility? All spectators, athletes and officials must be masked for the entirety of the event.

Are locker rooms available for home and away teams? Yes.

What do you do if your team goes to a school where those policies are stricter than your current policies? We will always defer to the stricter policy.

Will you offer livestreaming for games? Yes, all games will be live streamed on our YouTube page.

Searsport

Must your student-athletes be vaccinated or engage in weekly pool testing? No.

Are there limits to how many spectators can attend home events? Open to home and away fans, though the number of spectators may be limited.

Who must mask indoors at your school/facility? Athletes, spectators, performers, coaches, advisors and officials.

Are locker rooms available for home and away teams? Yes.

What do you do if your team goes to a school where those policies are stricter than your current policies? Searsport will adhere to those policies.

Will you offer livestreaming for games? Hope to stream, but may not in an effort to allow more seating for spectators.

Vinalhaven

Must your student-athletes be vaccinated or engage in weekly pool testing? No. They just have to be masked. They do not have to pool test, do not have to be vaccinated.

Are there limits to how many spectators can attend home events? If so, what is that limit? Home fans only.

Who must mask indoors at your school/facility? Everybody in the school must be masked at all times, players included.

Are locker rooms available for home and away teams? Yes.

What do you do if your team goes to a school where those policies are stricter than your current policies? We will adhere to those guidelines. Also, if the opposing team does not play fully masked, Vinalhaven will not play.

Will you offer livestreaming for games? Not sure at this time.

North Haven

Must your student-athletes be vaccinated or engage in weekly pool testing? No.

Are there limits to how many spectators can attend home events? If so, what is that limit? Home fans only.

Who must mask indoors at your school/facility? All must be masked except for players actively playing in the game.

Are locker rooms available for home and away teams? Yes.

What do you do if your team goes to a school where those policies are stricter than your current policies? We would adhere to the stricter policy.

Will you offer livestreaming for games? Yes on Facebook live.

Islesboro

Must your student-athletes be vaccinated or engage in weekly pool testing? Yes.

Are there limits to how many spectators can attend home events? If so, what is that limit? Immediate family members of home fans only.

Who must mask indoors at your school/facility? Everyone.

Are locker rooms available for home and away teams? Yes.

What do you do if your team goes to a school where those policies are stricter than your current policies? We will follow the stricter policies.

Will you offer livestreaming for games? Yes.