Are Measures Enough to Keep HS Football Fans Safe?

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High school football has officially kicked off in some parts of the country, and like every level of the sport, the season is going to look different.

In particular, schools have had to alter the way in which they welcome fans into their stadiums. Social distancing signage and hand-sanitizing stations greeted visitors to Boerne ISD Stadium in Texas this past weekend, but only about half the typical number of fans gained admission.

“Our capacity is 4,200,” Stan Leech, athletic director for Boerne ISD, told NBC affiliate WOAI in San Antonio prior to kick-off. ‘Tonight, it’s going to be 2,100.”

In addition, fans were required to wear masks the entire time they were in the stadium, and periodic safety reminders were delivered over the stadium's PA system.

While allowing 50 percent capacity may seem bold, Carthage (Mo.) High School placed no restrictions on fan access for its first game of the season Friday, though face coverings were required. “We do have a lot of standing room area in our stadium, so if there’s some folks that prefer to do that, they’re able to do that," Carthage athletic director Mark Holderbaum told CBS affiliate KOAM in Joplin. “I think the majority of our fans are parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles of a lot of the participants and they know how important it is for their family members to be playing.”

If fans can't adhere to social distancing on their own, Carthage officials will consider future attendance restrictions, Holderbaum said.

Miami (Okla.) High School has similar policies in place — no current attendance restrictions, and fans are encouraged to wear a mask. “We want them to practice social distancing — you know, the 6-foot rule — and then when social distancing cannot take place, we’re highly encouraging them to wear a mask or a face covering.

“We want to be able to continue to play Friday night football games and that’s going to take all of us being very conscious of COVID and what we can do to help each other out to make sure our kids continue to be able to play.”

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