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Will there be fans in the stands when HS football kicks off in Alabama?

Birmingham, AL – The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) has announced its intention to move forward with the 2020 high school football season as scheduled but how will that effect fans in the stands?

The Alabama Department of Public Health notes that a memo issued Thursday by the AHSAA says spectators will be allowed to attend football games and other athletic events, but attendance likely will be significantly reduced. Under the state’s current Safer at Home public health order:

  • Players, coaches, officials, and spectators may not congregate within 6 feet of a person from another household except to the extent necessary, and only to the extent necessary, for players, coaches, and officials to directly participate in the athletic activity. (That six-foot distancing rule for spectators likely will significantly reduce attendance at most football stadiums and at many other sports venues)
  • Spectators must wear a mask or other facial covering that covers the nostrils and mouth at all times while within 6 feet of person from another household. Limited exceptions are allowed, such as for children who have not yet entered second grade and for people with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a facial covering.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris noted that the AHSAA in its memo Thursday said that Best Practices guidance the association issued last month “was created to mitigate – not eliminate – the risk of COVID-19.” The memo issued Thursday says schools are “strongly encouraged to establish and follow policies for limiting event attendance in order to comply” with the current public health order, and to require fans to wear facial coverings while entering and exiting the gates, while in the stands, and elsewhere. Dr. Harris stressed that the current public health order applies to schools and school-related events.

In addition, all persons with symptoms and all persons with known exposure to a COVID-19 positive case must quarantine for at least 14 days.  Persons who are awaiting test results for COVID-19 should also remain at home until they receive results and guidance from their physician, healthcare provider, or the health department.  Having a negative test does not eliminate the requirement for home quarantine when persons are close contacts to a COVID-19 positive case or remain symptomatic without another diagnosis.

High school football and volleyball seasons are scheduled to begin in Alabama on August 20th.

Concerns related to COVID-19 have prompted several Alabama school districts to delay or eliminate participation in fall sports. Greene and Sumter counties announced late last month that they would not field teams during the fall. Choctaw County High and Southern Choctaw announced that they will not participate during the first nine weeks of the academic year, effectively putting the breaks on their football and volleyball seasons. Muscle Shoals and Deshler high schools will delay the start of their seasons until September. St. Luke’s Episcopal and Oneonta‘s football squads both began a 14 day quarantine period earlier this week which will likely delay the start of their seasons. Barbour County is currently the only school district in Alabama to cancel all athletic participation for the entire 2020-2021 school year.