As it stands now, Williamsburg Independent School students will be allowed to participate in sports this fall, and fans will be allowed to be in attendance although potentially not as many fans as might have attended in year’s past.
Also, everyone from players on each side to coaches and fans will be required to have their temperatures checked. Fans will be required to wear masks, and to socially distance inside the stadium, gymnasium, ball park or field depending on the sport.
These were some of the items that were discussed and unanimously approved by the Williamsburg Independent Board of Education during a special called meeting Friday afternoon inside the school auditorium.
During the meeting, the board approved participation in falls sports with all Kentucky High School Athletic Association and Whitley County Health Department guidelines being followed.
“We want this to work. We want them to get the season in,” Board Member Roger Faulkner said about student athletes.
Seating capacity will be limited to 50 percent of capacity based on current state guidelines.
In the terms of the school gymnasium, this will be 1,050 people, which is a larger capacity that school officials would typically expect for most falls sports taking place in the gym at this time of year.
Williamsburg High School Football Coach and Athletic Director Jerry Herron said that the district is hoping to sell as many advanced tickets online as possible in order to avoid school officials having to handle money more than necessary.
Herron said that it would be on school officials to enforce social distancing and the wearing of masks.
“If you ride together in the same vehicle, you can sit together. If you live in the same household, you can sit together,” he said.
He added that the wearing of masks isn’t a law so the police won’t be enforcing it, although law enforcement could be asked to lend a hand if patrons became unruly about not wearing masks.
While it isn’t a law, Herron said that school officials have the right to require people to wear a mask and have their temperatures taken if they are going to come onto campus.
“We will have to police it,” Herron said adding that he thinks most people will comply because they want the students to be able to play their season.
As a last resort, he said school officials could also have an announcement made over the public address system at ball games warning that if fans don’t comply, the game could be shut down.
“We want these children to have this season. The only way we are going to have it is to follow the social guidelines of masks and social distancing. If you choose not to do that, this will be shut down and we can halt the thing,” Herron said.
Herron said that the games, which had been scheduled to start on Monday, Sept. 7, will be rescheduled, with the first games of the season now being a volleyball game and a junior high basketball game before the first high school football game on Sept. 11.
A volleyball tournament with eight schools participating is planned for Sept 12.
Herron said that the two sides will each enter and exit the building at different points, and only two teams will be permitted inside the building at any given time for the volleyball tournament.
Herron said that his staff all jumped on board to change their routines in order to make the season possible.
“Whatever we ask them to do, they are doing it,” Herron added about the students.
School officials said that air-conditioning filters are being cleaned on a regular basis, and the district is getting foggers in order to clean the gymnasium.
Herron noted that eventually every school will probably have COVID-19 cases, including Williamsburg.
Herron said he is looking into possibly requiring student athletes, who contract COVID-19, to have another physical before coming back to play again.
The board also authorized school officials to have players and presumably their parents or guardians to sign a consent waiver regarding COVID-19 pending approval of the waiver by board attorney Paul Croley.
“It is a waiver that a lot of school districts are using,” Herron noted.
Board members added that they would be willing to call a special meeting to approve a different waiver or significant changes to the waiver if necessary.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Hall noted that the district’s insurance carrier has recommended getting student waivers signed.
He added that worker’s compensation insurers are rewriting policies to not cover contagious diseases.