Uncertainty remains for spectators hoping to attend high school games

Wednesday, August 5, 2020 | 9:00 PM

New covid-19 guidelines for spectators at high school sporting events weren’t released Wednesday as many school administrators, coaches and fans had hoped.

Gov. Tom Wolf and state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine raised expectations Monday when they said updated information would be coming in “two days.” However, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said in an email Wednesday that those guidelines weren’t ready for release.

“The Wolf Administration is working to develop further guidance and recommendations to assist schools this fall and will release as soon as it is available,” said Maggi Mumma, deputy press secretary.

No new timeline was provided.

For now, spectators are prohibited at interscholastic contests under restrictions issued in June by Wolf’s administration. Those guidelines say: “During the Yellow and Green phases of reopening, sports-related activities at the PK-12 level are limited to student-athletes, coaches, officials and staff only. The addition of visitors and spectators will be contingent upon further health conditions within the state and local communities.”

An online petition asking Wolf to ease those restrictions had topped 44,000 signatures by Wednesday, and a group of Republican state legislators sent the governor a letter urging him to allow parents to attend contests.

Asked Monday whether the state would loosen its restrictions, Levine said: “We’ll have more information for you in two days.”

Wolf added: “You heard from Secretary Levine. In two more days we’ll have more formal guidelines.”

Wolf and Levine were speaking at a joint press conference Monday.

Separately, the state also maintains a 250-person limit on all outdoor gatherings.

Fall sports are scheduled to start later this month across the state. However, the WPIAL decided last week to delay most start dates into September.

Only WPIAL golf and girls tennis can start sooner, on Aug. 24.

Kickoff for WPIAL football was delayed to Sept. 10-12 instead of Aug. 28. Season openers for WPIAL cross country, soccer, field hockey and girls volleyball were delayed until Sept. 14.

According to updated PIAA guidelines released last week, “should spectators eventually be permitted to attend contests, we anticipate that such attendance will be subject to some important limitations.”

The PIAA said spectators from different households must be 6 feet apart. Adults must wear face masks, and they shouldn’t enter the field of play or bench areas.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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