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Number of spectators allowed at outdoor Carroll County high school sporting events triples; first fans to be permitted at indoor games

Carroll County Public Schools officials are tripling the number of spectators allowed at outdoor sporting events next week.

Mike Duffy, the supervisor of athletics, said based on the governor’s order to ease COVID-19 restrictions, stadium capacity can go from 250 to 750. And volleyball players will now be allowed to have an audience.

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Duffy said he thinks the 750 “is still a manageable number for, to the extent as possible, social distancing” during Wednesday night’s Carroll County Board of Education meeting.

Priority will be given to the families of all the participants, Duffy said, and staff members will be accommodated.

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After that, tickets will be open to the public.

Fans in the stands watch a girls soccer match between Century and Liberty at Century High School on Thursday, March 11, 2021. A maximum of 250 spectators were being allowed in to watch games, but that number increases to 750 next week.
Fans in the stands watch a girls soccer match between Century and Liberty at Century High School on Thursday, March 11, 2021. A maximum of 250 spectators were being allowed in to watch games, but that number increases to 750 next week. (Brian Krista)

Face coverings will continue to be a requirement, he said, and social distancing should be done to the greatest extent possible. Anyone who is not a high school student must be accompanied by an adult for outdoor events.

Spectators were not allowed for inside events during the winter season, when basketball and wrestling were contested from early January through mid-February, but that is changing, too.

Volleyball games can have in-person attendance starting next week. Two tickets will be available for each player.

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Duffy said they are working on a plan to allow spectators for the county cheer championship that’s scheduled for April 10.

“That one is not going to be as easy when we’re bringing in seven schools,” he said, adding that they want to allow parents to see their children but move them out so they are not there the entire time. “It’s going to be work but that’s our plan and that’s our expectation.”

Duffy told the school board two weeks ago that spectators would be allowed to watch the games for the first time in a year when the shortened version of the fall season began March 5. At the time, only 250 people were allowed at outdoor games such as football and soccer and home team spectators were prioritized.

“I’m glad to hear good vibes there, that’s great,” board President Marsha Herbert said at the time. “People do want to see activities outside. And rightfully so.”

Duffy said during Wednesday’s meeting they are off to a positive start for fall sports games “as far as competition on the fields.”

Fans in the visitors stands watch a girls soccer match between Century and Liberty at Century High School on Thursday, March 11, 2021. A maximum of 250 spectators were being allowed in to watch games, but that number increases to 750 next week.
Fans in the visitors stands watch a girls soccer match between Century and Liberty at Century High School on Thursday, March 11, 2021. A maximum of 250 spectators were being allowed in to watch games, but that number increases to 750 next week. (Brian Krista)

Off the field, five teams were put on pause because of COVID-19 cases. Duffy said in an interview that players on the varsity football teams at Manchester Valley and Century high schools tested positive after playing each other. Both junior varsity and varsity field hockey players at Westminster High School and the varsity field hockey team at Winters Mill High School have the virus.

The county will be using a mobile ticketing platform called GoFan, and Duffy said spectators will be able to use their smartphones in an effort to reduce contact and allow for more spacing between school staff and those entering the stadium.

Duffy said on Wednesday the GoFan method is “very positive for COVID times” and it allows them to go cashless. All the tickets are $5 and they no are not charging participation fees for the remainder of the year.

The fall season runs through April 17, and practice for the spring season starts on that day. The spring plays dates go from May 7 through June 19.

Carroll County Times sports editor Pat Stoetzer contributed to this report.

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