High School sports returning in Leon County under new COVID-19 guidelines

Posted at 8:35 AM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 11:43:04-04

Now that Leon County Schools are back in session, sports will be back soon as well.

For student athletes in Leon County's public school system the wait is almost over. September 11 is the first day of practice and try-outs for fall sports teams in the county.

Leon County Schools wanted to wait two weeks until after school started to make sure COVID-19 cases didn't spike as school started if the numbers stay down sports will start and things will look a little different.

Leon County Schools Director of Student Activities Scott Hansen told ABC 27 that they are taking things slow .

Teams are only permitted to play other Leon County teams for now. There will be limited capacity at games, as of now, the proposal allows both volleyball and football student athletes four tickets apiece. At football games, capacity will be at 200 tickets per team at football games starting with parents. If there are leftover tickets students and faculty can attend.

Following county ordinance, masks must be worn and social distancing guidelines obeyed, and if things go well, cheerleaders and pep bands will be allowed to attend at later dates. Hansen says not everyone will be happy with the guidelines, but if the kids want to play , rules have to be followed.

"We're going to please ask to follow and please be respectful to all the there fans and everybody else. We're doing it for the athletes and for the kids to have the opportunity to play. If it becomes an issue, there will be no fans, and we don't want that," said Hansen.

Football games for Leon County Public Schools start on September 25.

All other fall sports can start playing games within the first week they're allowed to practice. Hansen added they are still trying to secure a pool for swimming and diving to start, but he's confident they'll be able to. He said it's been a process to get to this point, but he said the coaches and athletic directors have been great.

"Everyone's been really adaptive and willing to work just to see what they can see what they can do for the students trying to get something in because they know what happened in the spring with nothing," he said. "With us going back to school, it'd be detrimental to not have these right now."

Hansen said schools are encouraged to use their home fields for football games, although Gene Cox Stadium can be utilized if need be. He said if everyone uses own site, every game can be played on a Friday night and teams won't have to play on Thursdays as in years past.

As far as concessions go, Leon County Schools is leaving what and how items are sold to each school. Everything will be pre-packaged, and hamburgers and/or hot dogs will not be for sale unless they come from outside agency.

Hansen said for those that can't or don't want to attend games, all events will be live streamed. That includes junior varsity and varsity games at each high school.

For middle school athletics, softball has been moved to the fall. Practice will start September 11th. Cross Country will start a little later this fall at a date to be determined. Both middle school football and volleyball have been moved to the spring.