NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – High school sports are back in action and in most counties, fans are allowed to attend games. However, the experience will be very different. Across New Mexico, 56 varsity football teams competed over the weekend. “It was the game of football and our kids are just so thankful that they are able to play the game that they love and that we have a start. It was fantastic,” said New Mexico Activities Association Executive Director Sally Marquez.

This week, 80 teams are set to play and fans can expect some COVID-safe changes. “It is mask-wearing 100 percent of the time, it is social distancing in the stands,” Marquez says.

A limited number of fans in the stadium, for yellow-level counties that’s 25% capacity. And for green-level counties like Santa Fe, that’s 50% capacity. In the turquoise level up to 75%. So when Albuquerque Public Schools eventually start their football season, there could be a quarter capacity at stadiums like Milne, which means about 1,200 fans. APS is still working on its plans for sporting events.

“The student-athletes are really really excited,” says Rio Rancho Executive Director of Athletics Larry Chavez.

In Rio Rancho, athletic officials say they have prioritized a number of tickets for parents and essential staff, so only 1,160 tickets will be sold to the general public for football games. Rio Rancho fans will also see signs around the stadium like this designating where you can sit. “There will be four seats where you can sit then there will be four open seats and then four more seats so we’re doing it kind of in pods,” Chavez says.

There will even be changes on the field. Only 60 players, coaches, and managers per team can be on the sideline, and they have to spread out down the length of the field. Even with all the changes, including no concession stands, players and fans will take it. “It’s not going to diminish the excitement that the kids have that they get to play the game that they love on the field,” Marquez says.

The NMAA says it’s up to school districts to decide if they want to collect information from fans for contact tracing purposes. Rio Rancho officials say they will only worry about contact tracing for players and coaches.