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South Eastern mulls spectators at fall sports after Wolf's decision

York Suburban wideout David Moye avoids tackles by Josh Vipperman, left, and Steven Lukes of Kennard-Dale, Friday, Septmber 20, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

York County school boards are now deciding whether to have limited fans in their stands following the governor's go-ahead for spectators at fall sports.

At a South Eastern committee meeting Thursday, Superintendent Nathan Van Deusen said high school athletic director Gary McChalicher would have a vote in an upcoming York-Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association decision to allow fans in the stands.

"To be clear, if we were having this discussion realistically, we would only be looking (at) a way to prioritize getting parents in," McChalicher said.

How the district would do that is still up for debate, he said, making suggestions such as having parents on a rotating game schedule, allowing one parent per participant or allowing senior parents in first.

Gov. Tom Wolf made the call on Wednesday to allow up to 250 people at school sporting events outdoors and 25 people indoors, consistent with previous health guidance for gatherings amid COVID-19.

More:Gov. Wolf updates guidance to allow some high school fans, with mitigation limits in place

But the local governing body for the York-Adams League decided to make it a local decision.

Van Deusen on Thursday asked his board for guidance on how South Eastern should vote — in favor of the change or upholding previous restrictions that only players, coaches, other staff and band or cheering sections would be permitted to attend.

Carrie Traeger

“I think the question that you're asking is, how do you reconcile the state mandates, YAIAA mandates, as well as the state regulations that are currently being proposed through the House, and essentially the Senate,” said board member Carrie Traeger.

She was referring to a bill passed by the state House on Wednesday that would give school boards license to choose how many fans they would let into games.

Sorting through guidance on fall sports has not been easy, with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association — the statewide governing body for interscholastic sports — also often in direct opposition with the state.

The PIAA is in favor of the change on spectators but has not always been in step with the governor’s decisions.

The two were at odds over whether fall sports could continue this year. The PIAA board of directors even voted in August to delay the start of the season for two weeks so they could negotiate with the governor.

More:PIAA delays start of fall sports season, seeks negotiations with Wolf

Their latest butting of heads was over guidance on spectators.

In an Aug. 28 letter sent to Wolf’s office days before he updated guidance, PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi said it was contradictory to allow classes of over 25 students when sports subs had to stand in the hallways at games.

Bob Lombardi

Gyms can easily accommodate social distancing, he said in the letter, and suggested the rule should be no more than 25% capacity inside, as it is with restaurants.

Board members at South Eastern were generally in favor of allowing spectators, provided they followed the district’s own rules pertaining to social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures.

But they acknowledged that with larger sports such as football — which would have 50 players on each team — there would not be room for many extra, maybe about 50 to 75, McChalicher said.

The YAIAA meeting is slated for this week.