MCMURRAY, Pa. (KDKA) — With statewide gathering limits in place once again, Pennsylvania schools continue to balance changing crowd restrictions with eager parents hoping to attend school sporting events.
In light of a federal appeals court restoring Governor Tom Wolf’s gathering restrictions Thursday, the PIAA announced it expects its member schools to comply. The restrictions limit outdoor gatherings to 250 people and indoor gatherings to 25 people.
“PIAA is informing member schools of the decision and encourage them to consult their solicitors as to what they can and cannot do under the Governor’s reinstated order,” the PIAA said in a statement Thursday.
In previous weeks, many schools have worked to implement safety measures of their own, including limited ticket sales, encouraging social distancing and requiring masks. WPIAL Executive Director Amy Scheuneman commended its member schools for the effort thus far.
“They’ve taken the initiative, the effort to safeguard both their student-athletes in their return to play programs and also with their facilities,” she said.
Scheuneman is also asking WPIAL schools to be patient as Governor Tom Wolf indicated more guidance for school sports may be on the way.
“Let’s wait and see what actually comes from the governor’s office after this,” she said. “They’ve had time to review and discuss it, and hopefully they’ve been able to see that schools are not necessarily going to go crazy on the attendance.”
On Thursday, Governor Wolf was asked about spectators as it relates to the gathering restrictions.
“Stay tuned,” he responded. “We’re working on it as we speak.”
Governor Wolf emphasized needing to avoid spreading the virus but said he understood each community is different.
“We’ve got to make sure that we’re being reasonable, realistic about how we do things,” he said. “I’m doing everything I can, listening to folks and continue to change.”
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With another high school football Friday night approaching, some schools have already made adjustments to fan protocols. Though the North Hills High School football team is away on Friday, the band was scheduled to play in front of a “small, invitation-only” crowd, according to a statement from Superintendent Dr. Patrick Mannarino.
North Hills will no longer allow spectators at the band performance or at middle and high school volleyball games scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
Karns City School District, one of the first local school districts to welcome all fans back to football games, announced it will be following the gathering restrictions. In a letter posted to its website, the district says it’s “asking that only immediate family members attend outdoor sporting events.” The district also says fans will not be allowed at indoor events.
Just hours after gathering restrictions were reinstated, Peters Township hosted Upper St. Clair in football Thursday night. Peters Township Athletic Director Brian Geyer said the plans already in place met the state’s restrictions.
“All of our people right now are six feet apart,” Geyer said. “With the pod system, we’re all under 250, so we’re able to comply with everything.”
Each participant received two tickets. Spectators had to have their temperature taken when entering the stadium, wear masks and social distance inside.