By MARINA WATERS
School officials are encouraging spectators at David Crockett High School to wear masks after the school received a letter from the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.
Crockett received the letter on Tuesday, Sept. 8 from TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress saying it had been “brought to our attention that the COVID-19 sports regulations were not completely followed during a recent home football contest.” The letter also said fall sports seasons could “come to an abrupt halt” should officials, athletes, students and spectators not take the regulations seriously.
“We’re doing the best we can and the TSSAA is the best they can in these challenging times,” Director of Schools Bill Flanary told the Herald & Tribune. “We’re doing everything the TSSAA requirements call for.”
Crockett Athletic Director Josh Kite also said he felt the school had been adhering to the TSSAA regulations, but the mask recommendation is one that can’t be monitored throughout the stands at Pioneer Stadium.
“It’s a difficult process now because we have people who say they have a health concern with wearing the mask,” Kite said. “We have to honor that. It’s difficult. When you have 1,200 fans in a stadium, someone’s going to take their mask off.”
Since receiving a letter of warning, which Kite and Flanary said was also sent to 200-300 other schools throughout the state, school officials have been working to increase the request that all spectators follow the guidelines, putting emphasis on signs asking spectators to wear masks, temperature checks at the gate and periodic announcements throughout the games.
“You ramp that up,” Flanary said, “and you hope that people comply because it’s the right thing to do.”
Crockett is currently the only Washington County School to receive a letter from the TSSAA. But Flanary said the struggles at Crockett have certainly not been limited to the south side of the county and have been found at Daniel Boone High School’s sporting events as well.
“They’re struggling too, trying to maintain control over the crowd and keeping people masked,” Flanary said. “It’s tough. People don’t like wearing those masks for a full football game.”
Flanary said athletes throughout the county are all back at it, but the county has had some students have to quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns. He said two students at Boone and two more at Crockett were previously under quarantine. He added that the middle school football team on the south side of the county had to “do some downtime” due to health concerns as well, but are now back on the field.
“As it stands right now, all of our athletes are going at it full-bore… ” Flanary said. “We’ve not been completely unscathed, but we’ve followed the rules and have done what is necessary. All of our athletes are back to participating now.”
As fall sports continue, Kite said his goal is to keep the season moving along safely while keeping fans in seats by complying with regulations.
“We want everyone to come to the stadium and feel safe,” Kite said, “We want everyone to enjoy the game. We are going to continue to do our due diligence with the mask mandate and those things that are in place. For the most part, we just want everyone to feel safe when they come to the game.”