Blue Springs School District sues health department to allow more fans at high school sporting events

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Blue Springs High School

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — The Blue Springs School District has filed a lawsuit against the Jackson County Health Department over capacity limitations at high school sporting events.

The civil suit, filed Wednesday in Jackson County court, names Jackson County Health Department Director Bridgette Shaffer as a defendant.

The suit alleges that the health department issued a notice of non-compliance to Blue Springs School District Superintendent Paul Kinder over attendance at an Aug. 28 football game between Liberty High School and Blue Springs High School.

Even though the school district had a policy allowing Blue Springs players, cheerleaders and dance team members to invite four guests each and the participants from the visiting team to bring two guests, the number of people in attendance topped the 100-person limit set forth by the county.

RELATED: Some metro high school teams prepare to play first football game with limited fans

In the non-compliance order, Shaffer warned the district that another violation could result in revoking the concession stand’s health license for the rest of the season, requiring athletes to quarantine for two weeks and banning all spectators from all district athletic events for the remainder of the season.

The district argues that the games are outdoors and are considered lower risk than indoor events.

The district also notes that the Kansas City Chiefs are allowing 22% capacity at Arrowhead which is “far in excess of the 100-person occupancy limit.”

The suit seeks an injunction preventing the Jackson County Health Department from enforcing the 100-person limit. The district argues that “irreparable harm” will occur if the court does not invalidate modify the order.

Jackson County Executive Frank White responded by defending the order, saying the rules are necessary to keep people safe from COVID-19.

“The lawsuit filed by the Blue Springs School District is troubling for many reasons. It is important to remember that the CDC, White House Coronavirus Task Force, and the World Health Organization have all recommended that we limit the size of gatherings due to the high level of the virus in our community.”

“Yet, despite the apparent universal agreement that large public gatherings pose a substantial risk to the health and safety of our community, the Blue Springs School District has decided to sue the County in the hopes a court will allow them to have more spectators at their football games.”   

“While we understand and appreciate that reasonable minds can disagree about what the right number should be, we are disappointed that Blue Springs chose to litigate this issue.  Unfortunately, the decision by Blue Springs will require us to divert valuable time, energy, and resources to this lawsuit instead of focusing on making our community safer and stronger.”

FOX4 has called and emailed a Blue Springs School District spokesperson for a response to the lawsuit.

The case is set for a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Jackson County court.

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