Schools across Ohio gearing up for Friday night football, new safety measures added

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NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio (WJW) — After spending last Saturday reducing the high school’s 5,000 seat football stadium to 750 seats, posting guidelines for visitors, and adopting regulations for players and coaches, North Royalton Athletic Director Bo Kuntz says he is ready to get Friday’s season opener underway.

“We are excited for the kids and the coaches. They have worked hard to get to this point, I mean we have had a couple of hiccups along the way, but we have weathered the storm and we are excited, we are ready to go,” said Kuntz.

High school football across Ohio in a COVID-19 regulated season has started and for athletic directors and administrators the goal is not to get through just one game, but to make it through an entire season.

“I’m nervous, you know, because it’s an unknown for everybody,” said Kuntz.

High schools will be expected to observe and enforce rules that have been adopted by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which mirror those of the Ohio Department of Health.

They include mandatory masks in the stands, separating family units at least six feet apart in the stands. They also include no congregating away from the field before or after games.

The OHSAA will have inspectors who will be visiting stadiums to make sure they are complying.

Friday’s North Royalton game versus Wadsworth will be one of those games.

Norton will be away at Ravenna on Friday for its season opener and high school principal Ryan Snanor has released a video for his district’s parents so they know exactly what the expectations are.

“The Ohio Department of health is actually very clear on their expectations for the different schools when you are at home or away,” said Shanor.

“Every stadium might have their own little tweaks here and there about expectations but when you walk into a stadium and they have signs up that say walk this way not that way you need to do it,” he added.

Shanor wants parents to know that the consequence of non-compliance could be the end of the season, which he describes as a “gift” for the student athletes.

“What I want to tell parents is, hey, your kid has an opportunity here to have a season, the least that we can do is follow what’s being asked of us to follow. It’s being asked of me, it’s being asked of them and if that means putting on a mask, if that means just making sure that we are socially distanced.” said Shanor.

Kuntz and other administrators know that there will be a significant learning curve following week one of the season.

What happens to the remainder of this season could well depend on whether parents and others are willing to adhere to their expectations.

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