Tallmadge Athletic Director: Focus is on following protocols 'to ensure a season' for student-athletes

District must follow state guidelines on limiting attendance at games

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
Tallmadge's football team takes the field in a game against Ravenna in 2019. Attendance at home games in 2020 will be limited to 525 people due to COVID-19.

TALLMADGE — As all fall sporting events move forward in the school district during the COVID-19 pandemic, the high school's athletic director said his staff will follow protocols "as best as we can to ensure a season" for Blue Devil athletes.

Tim Mosher said his athletic department is preparing to navigate what will be a challenging sports season. 

"We're going to make sure that we do the best we can," said Mosher. "This is a community effort … We need to make sure we do everything that's in place to allow these kids to have the best and longest season possible."

Like some other school districts in the area, Tallmadge had originally planned to follow Summit County Public Health's recommendation and delay the start of its contact sports season until Oct. 1. After the Ohio Department of Health issued its guidelines and Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Aug. 18 that contact sports could move ahead, Tallmadge and other districts changed course to start competition on Sept. 1, according to Mosher.

The first home football game is Sept. 4.

Mosher said ODH issued "pretty direct" and "pretty specific" guidelines on how schools are supposed to maintain the health and safety of both participants and spectators at contests. ODH has imposed a maximum capacity on stadiums and indoor facilities. Attendance at outdoor stadiums are restricted to the lesser of 1,500 individuals or 15% of fixed seating capacity.

Mosher said this means attendance at Blue Devil Stadium will be limited to 525 people, with 375 allowed in the home team stands and 150 in the visitors' bleachers.

Attendance at fall athletic events will be limited to three spectators per event participant, which includes the athlete, cheerleader, coach, band member and band instructor. The visiting team will be allowed to have two spectators per participant. The visiting team's band will not be allowed at home football games.

The number of spectators allowed to attend golf matches will depend on the rules of the golf course hosting the event. 

Spectators must either live in the household of the event participant or they must be a close family member of the participant. Tickets for football, soccer and volleyball games must be purchased in advance through the school and Mosher said athletes and their parents will receive information from the coaches on how to secure tickets.

Tickets will be $7 for adults and $4 for students and senior citizens.

No tickets will be sold at the gate for high school football, soccer and volleyball games, and no passes will be accepted. Middle school teams will practice at the middle school, but their contests will happen at the high school. No admission will be charged for those games.

For people who are unable to attend the games, middle school and high school football and volleyball games, and high school soccer games will be livestreamed on the Tallmadge School District's YouTube channel. Mosher added that recordings of the contests will be stored on the YouTube channel, so people can watch them after the fact, too.

Here is a listing of rules for spectators attending Tallmadge Middle School and High School games this fall:

1. Spectators representing each participant must sit together.

2. Spectators cannot sit in groups of more than four people (two spectators of one participant may sit with two spectators of another participant if they know each other and the participants are on the same team).  

3. Spectators self-assess for symptoms prior to arrival and stay home if they have one or more symptoms.

4. Spectators should sit in designated locations for home and visitor fans.

5. Spectators should wear a face covering at all times.

6. Spectators should maintain social distancing at all times.

7. Spectators should leave immediately at the end of competition. Congregating is not permitted on the grounds or in the parking lot.

8. No concessions will be sold at any venue except Blue Devil Stadium.

9. Only the side window will be open for sales to allow for social distancing in line through the open area of the main plaza. Front windows of the concession stand will be open to allow air-flow into the concession stand. Signage will clarify where concessions are being sold.

10. Only pre-packaged items such as drinks and candy will be sold. No prepared food such as hot dogs or popcorn will be sold.

11. Concessions will be cash only. The athletic department is unable to accept credit cards.

Visit www.tallmadgeathletics.org for more information on the district's Game Play and Venue Operations Plan.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.