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Parents only at events

COLUMBUS – High school sports can continue in Ohio, but games will be seen by fewer fans.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association and Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine recommended Tuesday that schools restrict attendance to only the parents of the participants, or eliminate all spectators, for their winter sports competitions through Dec. 31, due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We want to follow this recommendation so that our kids can continue to compete,” OHSAA executive director Doug Ute said. “We believe it is crucial that parents be permitted to attend the contests of their children, but large crowds at our indoor athletic contests are not a good idea at this time. We all need to work together to give our kids and schools the best chance at having a full winter season.”

Basketball, wrestling, swimming and bowling are contested in the winter season.

Schools will determine the process for how parents will attend athletic contests, such as how many are permitted and where they will be placed to watch the contest.

The OHSAA recommends for those schools that decide to admit parents, list the names of the parents on a roster sheet that is located at the ticket window/admission table. The OHSAA said it will help clarify who should and should not be admitted and will hopefully eliminate non-parents from attending.

There is no prohibition on cheerleaders and pep bands, but the OHSAA said schools should make their own decisions on these students’ participation and should strongly consider not sending cheerleaders to away contests.

As administrators were notified last week, the OHSAA winter sports seasons are moving forward as planned. That decision was made after the Executive Director’s Office had discussions with the Governor’s Office, the OHSAA Board of Directors and numerous administrators combined with the results of the membership survey in which 56 percent of the 1,464 respondents recommended the OHSAA begin all winter sports contests as they are currently planned and scheduled.

The decision for schools to move forward with sports is a local decision. The OHSAA said schools may choose not to participate in a contest or to pause their seasons for a period and should do what is in their best interests.

The OHSAA said it believes the member schools provide student-athletes with the safest possible environment to continue participating, and recognize the educational, physical and mental health benefits of participation.

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