Charleston, W. Va. — It’s going to look different inside Wilt Salmons field on September 4th when the Rebels host Midland Trail as fans will be permitted at high school football games in West Virginia only if you’re an immediate household member of an athlete or coach and if you purchased a ticket in advance.
The Secondary School Activities Commission Friday evening released its guidelines for spectators at extracurricular activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they’re being limited to immediate family members.
For the sports of football, soccer, volleyball and cheerleading, the protocols follow the state’s color-coded rating system in effect for each county. If the home team’s status is in the green category (safest), attendance is limited to immediate household family members of players and coaches. If the county is in yellow, only parents of athletes and coaches’ spouses are permitted to attend. In both cases, face coverings are required if social distancing can’t be maintained.
Schools in the orange and red (unsafest) categories cannot play games, though schools in orange counties are still permitted to practice. SSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan said attendance guidelines will be revisited after the second week of games.
The SSAC is also urging schools to develop a system for ticket pre-sales, and assigned seating is being suggested. Dolan believes that’s the best policy to follow to avoid potential confrontations at the gate.
WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan
“… The bottom line, is that the players have all practiced together and there haven’t been any outbreaks, so we feel pretty good about that unit. The kids all live with families, so we feel good about that unit. By keeping those two units together, we feel like it’s the best opportunity to not have any outbreaks from fans coming to games.”
“… We want people to understand we’ve got these guidelines because the most important thing is that the games get played by the kids. In Pennsylvania, they’re not allowing any fans, period. We felt like we want to give our parents and families the opportunity to see games, as long as they can do that safely.’’
“… My personal opinion that I’ll recommend to principals, will be to sell those tickets before the game. Don’t have anybody show up before the game who doesn’t have a ticket, and you can manage much better. There’s no will call. Don’t go to a game without a ticket in hand is what I want to say.
“…Sure, there will be some [family members] who show up [wanting in], but if they don’t have a ticket, I don’t care if it’s mom or dad — you don’t have a ticket, you don’t get to come in. It will be incumbent upon away principals or administration to have a presence at the games also, to help out with visiting fans. Control is with the school and they know their communities the best, so they’re going to be able to manage their own community. ’’