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KSHSAA appeals board recommends allowing limited fans for school activities

Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 3:25 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - An appeals board for the Kansas State High School Activities Association is recommending the organization’s board of directors reconsider its ban on all fans at school activities.

In addition, the appeals board recommends they consider allowing one or two parents per athlete to attend in person. The vote was 7-1, with Tom Mitchell casting the dissenting vote.

The issue now goes to the full 78-member Board of Directors to consider. KSHSAA officials say they expect to convene a special board meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday to make the final call on whether fans will be allowed. There will be no public speakers allowed but people may submit written comments up until 1 p.m. on Monday.

KSHSAA’s board of directors voted Nov. 24 to prohibit fans from winter sports activities through January 28th as part of its restrictions in allowing the winter sports season to proceed. However, KSHSAA received several formal grievances and more than 1,000 emails opposing the decision.

KSHSAA Executive Director Bill Faflick said, “The concern over students safety in schools making medical decisions for minors in the absence of parents is absolutely understandable, but the risk of increase in community spread and the burden that it plays on health care is probably as significant if not more significant and urgent at this point in time.”

He added, “Bottom line is, unnecessary group gatherings should be avoided inside at this time.”

The eight-member board of appeals listened to two hours of testimony Friday, and held additional discussion among itself before issuing its recommendation. Several said they understood the disappointment in not being able to see their children’s activities in person, but they also realize the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic across the state, and the no-fan policy could be the trade-off needed for students getting through their full seasons.

Three parents alongside USD 214 superintendent Dave Younger shared their opinions of the ban.

Younger said, “We know it’s difficult decisions and again, we as a district and we as a league are ready to step up to that responsibility and make those tough decisions for us. If and when that occurs.”

One parent added, “Mr. Faflick said in his closing argument, the very first sentence was, this is all about decisions and I totally agree with that - but I think it should be local decisions.”

The other parent added in her final comments, “As for unnecessary large crowds, parents are necessary.”

Board of Appeals Chairman Tom Mitchell was the lone opposed vote. He wants kids to play but fears the chances of the virus spreading, and ultimately ruining the chance at a spring season like last year.

He said, “I worry about my county health department coming in and one person in the stands has COVID and so we’re shutting down a couple teams and those teams. I just want us to take some baby steps and hopefully we can continue this season.”

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