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Howard County school system to allow some spectators for upcoming fall high school sports season

Some spectators will be allowed to attend Howard County Public School System athletic events when sports return next week, according to district leaders during the Board of Education’s meeting on Thursday.

As the school system prepares to begin its hybrid model and fall high school sports competitions, the district is implementing a plan to allow fans at games while also abiding by the state’s capacity requirements.

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Anissa Dennis, the system’s chief school management officer, detailed the plan during Thursday’s meeting. Each player will be given two passes to hand out to family or friends to receive entry into home games, Dennis said. The passes will not work for road games, meaning the only fans at games will be those given passes by players on the home team.

The ticket system will allow the games to stay under the state’s capacity orders of 250 people at outdoor contests and 100 for indoor events, which include players, coaches, officials and fans.

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“Because of the strict limitations on maximum occupancy at this time, only spectators for the home team may attend the game and must have a school-issued pass with them,” said Dennis.

Dennis said the school system will “monitor” any state action that would allow additional capacity at outdoor or indoor events.

All spectators will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing during the games, said Howard County Coordinator of Athletics John Davis on Thursday.

Davis added that the school system is “working toward” having sporting events streamed online.

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“Streaming was part of the decision making to having it be home passes only where we could stream to the visiting teams,” Davis said.

Carroll County Public Schools will also be allowing spectators to attend their sporting events. Carroll, which had teams play a shortened winter season, is also planning to start the fall season next week with small crowds allowed at select events.

Carroll will be allowing more fans to attend most outdoor games, however, will not allow any fans at indoor events, like volleyball, according to Carroll Supervisor of Athletics Michael Duffy. For most outdoor sporting events, each player, both on the road and home teams, will be given two passes. For football, though, only the players on the home team will be given passes to remain under the 250-person limit.

“We’re going to ask [for people’s] assistance with us in keeping it to the two,” Duffy said about ticketing. “If it gets beyond the 250, we’re then out of compliance with the governor’s order and at that point we simply may need to shut down attendance altogether and we don’t want to do that. We don’t want parents to miss opportunities to see their students.”

Howard County’s shortened fall sports season is slated to begin March 5 with volleyball and girls and boys soccer events. Field hockey, football, golf and cross country begin the following week. The district has set up divisions and modified postseason county tournaments for most sports.

Baltimore Sun Media reporter Kristen Griffith and editor Pat Stoetzer contributed to this report.

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