Community COVID-19 cases and quarantines affect school’s athletic programs
Statesboro High School (SHS) has cancelled its football season opener against Wayne County Friday night after confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 on campus and in the community have affected the school’s athletic program. The school will also suspend football practice until September 8. The school’s next scheduled game will be Sept. 18 in Swainsboro, and Houston County will face the Blue Devils on Sept. 25 for what will now be its home opener. No other Statesboro athletic teams’ schedules are affected at this time.
Since Bulloch County Schools opened Aug. 17, Statesboro High has reported six confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 amongst its employees and students, and it has quarantined 75 persons who had direct exposure to those cases as a precaution.
“We have strictly followed Georgia High School Association guidelines since May, when our teams began summer conditioning,” said SHS Athletic Director Patrick Hill. “Additional public health guidelines have been strictly adhered to since we began fall practices in July. Since cases and quarantines have affected those in our athletic programs, this is the safe course of action for our campus and community.”
The Blue Devil Football squad was notified of this today at 2:30pm. The school has also contacted Wayne County athletic officials.
The school had pre-sold approximately 400 tickets for Friday’s game through its electronic GoFan website and mobile application. These sites allow for electronic refunds of ticket purchases, and the school has taken measures to ensure full refunds of purchased tickets.
To ensure the privacy of its employees and students, the school district does not release private, individual health information. It provides a real-time COVID-19 website with the number of confirmed positive cases and quarantines by school. The site is accessible from all district and school website homepages.
Southeast Bulloch High School and Portal Middle High School will continue with their scheduled football games. SEBHS has reported four confirmed positive COVID-19 cases with 48 precautionary quarantines since August 17, and Portal Middle High School has had no confirmed cases on or in its campus, so the pandemic has not affected the schools’ athletic programs. Both schools have similar athlete and spectator guidelines for public safety.
Statesboro High School Football Game Procedures
Statesboro High School communicated its game day public health procedures on August 29. For future home football games, the school reminds students, parents, and the community of these practices at Womack Field:
- Womack Field has a stadium capacity of 6,600; however, the school is limiting seating to only 2,800 for this season, including home and visitor marching bands. Stadium capacity is limited to 50%. Tickets are limited to 2800. Reserved seats and season passes will be presold and count toward the 50% limit.
- The Bulloch County School District strongly encourages social distancing and face masks/coverings at all school events. Signs will be posted as reminders. There will also be frequent public service announcements as reminders.
- Home and visitor fans not willing to comply with the stated guidelines may be asked to leave without refund.
- Social distancing is strongly encouraged in the stands. Family units may sit together. The Statesboro High School student section will be enlarged and designated for social distancing. School administrators will monitor and enforce procedures in the student section.
- Football tickets will only be available electronically on the GoFan website or mobile app. Statesboro Football tickets are $8. There is a $1 convenience fee for all electronic tickets. There will be no cash ticket sales at the game. Students under high school age attending the game must be accompanied by an adult.
- The concessions are run by the SHS band boosters who will follow the restaurant guidance of the most recent executive orders by Governor Brian Kemp. SHS concessions are cash only.
- Parents and children are not allowed to enter the football field or track before, during, or after the game. Coaches, players, officials, approved media, and essential team personnel are the only people allowed on the track and field. Exceptions will include senior night, homecoming, or other special events.
- Parents and fans are asked to exit the stadium immediately once a game has concluded.
- Teams will utilize the player box from 10 yard line to 10 yard line to adequately socially distance.
- Cheerleaders will be assigned to cheer on the track. Social distancing is strongly encouraged.
- The Blue Devil Band will play from the east end zone stands. The visiting band will be assigned the west end of the visitor stands. Social distancing and bell covers are strongly encouraged.
- Hand sanitizer will be made available on each team bench. Hand sanitizer will also be available at the concession stands.
- Sportsmanship – Athletes and coaches will stand at the hashes and “tip their helmet” after the game. A handshake line is not permissible.
- The visiting team will take care of their own water and hydration following GHSA guidance.
- Each school is responsible for COVID-19 pre-screening their own team prior to the start of the game and will follow the most recent GHSA guidance for football.