How school districts say they’re keeping high school football players, spectators safe

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — High school football made a comeback on Friday night, but with COVID still around, what are schools doing to keep players safe on the field?

One game, for instance, was held at Mandarin High School. The school has 14 positive student COVID-19 cases.

It hosted Ponte Vedra High School out of St. Johns County, a school with three student COVID-19 cases and one staff case.

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Sonya Duke-Bolden, a spokesperson for Duval County Public Schools, described measures the district is taking in the following statement:

“The district will continue to provide online ticketing through GoFan.co, with no cash accepted at the gate to minimize contact between individuals. We will also maintain the cleaning protocols in locker rooms, on benches, and at all athletic venues. At the present time, we are expecting that all athletic contests will be held at 100% capacity for outdoor events and at 75% for indoor events. We will continue to follow the guidance of the DOH, and we will communicate any changes to this plan through our available communication channels. The decision to cancel an athletic event due to a COVID-19 outbreak will be made at the district level. The district will continue to work in consultation with the Department of Health prior to making any determinations about cancelling athletic events.”

Action News Jax spoke to Jose Sierra, a grandparent who was at Mandarin High School to pick up his granddaughter. He thinks these games are still a bad idea.

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“Now that the variant has become rapidly widespread, I think it will further increase contamination,” he told reporter Jessica Barreto in Spanish.

“Would you feel comfortable with your granddaughter going to a game?” she asked him.

“No, I don’t think I would,” he responded. “It’s just not the time.”

Christina Langston, a spokesperson for the St. Johns County Schools District, says schools are at 75% capacity for athletic competitions.

The district is following guidance from the Florida High School Athletic Association, which includes having four changes of shirts for players, sanitizing and rotating footballs, and having a designated coach remind players of social distancing.

You can find the full list of those protocols here and COVID protocols are posted for parents here.