COLUMBUS (WCMH) – While many high schools have postponed or cancelled winter sports due to the growth in COVID-19 cases, there are others that have not.
It was those schools Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addressed during his Tuesday coronavirus update.
The governor asked those schools going forward with winter sports to do so without fans.
“This is another opportunity for us just to pull back,” DeWine said. “It allows our student-athletes to continue to play, which, as a parent, a grandparent, is the most important thing.”
DeWine added that a superintendent told him that the idea of bringing 200 adults into a gymnasium with COVID-19 spread the way it is now “just makes absolutely no sense.”
There is no mandate from the state to bar fans from high school games; it is just a request.
The governor asked that schools do this until the first of the year, saying it could be reevaluated between now and then.
“The period between now and the first of the year is just vitally important if we’re going to keep our kids in school, if we’re going to do the things that we really feel are vital and very, very important,” DeWine said.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) said it is issuing a statement Tuesday afternoon stating that parents are still permitted to attend games, but that the organization is joining the state in asking that no other fans be permitted.
“We want to follow this recommendation so that our kids can continue to compete,” said OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute in the statement. “We believe it is crucial that parents be permitted to attend the contests of their children, but large crowds at our indoor athletic contests are not a good idea at this time. We all need to work together to give our kids and schools the best chance at having a full winter season.”
In its statement, OHSAA provided the following recommendations for member schools:
- For those schools that decide to admit parents, list the names of the parents on a roster sheet that is located at your ticket window/admission table. This will help clarify who should/should not be admitted and will hopefully eliminate non-parents from attending.
- Limit media to those who normally cover your school and consider utilizing a streaming service in order for fans to view your contest(s).
- There is no prohibition on cheerleaders and pep bands, but schools should make their own decisions on these students’ participation and should strongly consider not sending cheerleaders to away contests.
OHSAA’s full statement can be read by clicking here.