Parents upset, can’t watch kids’ football games due to health department’s mandate

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — The Jackson County Health Department mandate which took effect on July 1 for high school football games has some families upset before their kids take the field on Friday, August 28.

A public health order has placed a 100-person gathering restriction on athletic events.

School districts believe they can accommodate more spectators and maintain safe physical distances at large outdoor stadiums like one at Lee’s Summit North High School. The county, however, won’t allow it.

As a result, the school district stated that its stadium will be closed to the public for Friday’s game between Lee’s Summit North and Blue Springs South.

One hundred tickets were distributed to Lee’s Summit families. They’re the only spectators allowed inside.

Some angry parents from Blue Springs said that they plan to gather outside the stadium on Friday to protest being shut out of watching their kids play.

“When you think about churches and some facilities like that that are allowed more people than what we are allowed in an outdoor stadium, we felt like we could use both sides of the stadium and we proposed that,” Richard Bechard, the Lee’s Summit district athletic director, said. “The health department is very clear: only 100. If it was a guideline, it would be a whole different discussion. But when they say mandate, that’s an order.”

The game will be live streamed, so people can watch at home.

Bechard said both schools have agreed to cancel the game, if necessary, if the school district can’t enforce Jackson County’s mandate.

The health department released a statement on August 28, it reads:

“We recommend that extracurricular activities do not take place during the level of significant community transmission of COVID-19 that we are currently experiencing.

Large gatherings in any setting jeopardize our goal of reducing community transmission and sending students safely back to in-person learning with minimal disruption.

Given the level of transmission we are experiencing, we will not be altering the gathering limits put in place on July 1.

We strongly encourage continued vigilance from the public in mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing, and avoidance of large crowds.”

Jackson County Health Department

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