The Arkansas Activities Association announced Friday that Gov. Asa Hutchinson, in conjunction with the Arkansas Department of Health, has approved the start of the 2020 high school football regular season. The season is scheduled to kick off Aug. 27.
“Let’s not only start the season this year, but let’s work to finish the season,” Hutchinson said during Friday’s news conference. “That’s what’s important. That’s going to take everyone’s help, to the coaches, the staff, the band leaders, the choir directors. They’re all under challenging circumstances to make sure that these students have these opportunities.”
The start of volleyball season was also approved. It is scheduled to start Aug. 24.
The health department posted guidelines that will allow fans to attend games, as long as they adhere to specific requirements. The requirements, which allow single-family households to sit together as long as they keep a 6-foot distance from other groups or individuals, will likely limit most stadiums to two-thirds capacity.
Some stadiums could be limited to less than 50-percent capacity if they have extensive bleacher seating. According to the health department guidelines, every other row of bleachers must be empty to allow for proper social distancing.
Here are the health department’s requirements for indoor and outdoor high school venues:
- Venue capacity should be determined by having all spectators maintain 6-feet physical distance from other spectators at all times. Single-household family groups may sit together but 6-feet physical distance must be maintained from all other groups or individuals.
- Bleacher seating should be restricted such that every other row is unoccupied.
- Standing room only/additional chair seating should be marked on the ground to provide 6-feet physical distance between spectators or groups.
- NOTE: Though the Large Outdoor and Indoor Venue directives allow up to 66%, the above requirements for physical distancing may put actual capacity between 25-50%.
- Face coverings are required for all persons present, except for children under the age of 10 years old.
- Due to increased production of respiratory droplets during yelling and cheering, face coverings should remain in place even when attendees are seated and maintaining required physical distancing. NOTE: Face coverings may be removed in order to consume food or beverage but should be in place immediately afterwards.
- Areas where lines may form (entrances, exits, concessions, restrooms, etc.) shall be marked with cones, “X’s”, or other visual cues to promote physical distance of 6-feet. These lines should also be monitored to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
- Concessions shall comply with the current Directive Regarding Resuming Restaurant Dine-In Operations.
- Customer self-service condiment bars and buffets are prohibited.
- Consider reducing/adjusting menu offerings to promote expedient flow through concessions and reduce congestion in concession stand lines.
- Signs must be posted at all entrances advising the public not to enter if they have fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell; and if they have had known exposure to someone with Covid-19 in the past 14 days.
- Signs must be posted at all entrances advising the public that they may wish to refrain from entering if they are 65 years of age or older; and if they have underlying health conditions including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, severe obesity, asthma, or weakened immunity.
- The facility, including restrooms, shall be cleaned and disinfected as needed during the event. Frequently touched surfaces shall be cleaned periodically during the course of the event. Products with an EPA approved emerging viral pathogen claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for these products.