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Local leaders: Let fans attend the games

By MIKE REUTHER

mreuther@sungazette.com

Local leaders are on board with legislation to allow school boards to decide attendance at school sporting events.

“I just think it’s a bill that makes a lot of sense,” state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, said.

Everett and state Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock, both voted in favor of the bill which passed through both the House and Senate this week.

“I think once again that school boards are made up of elected officials and they can certainly make the decisions based on current conditions in their school districts,” Wheeland said.

Wheeland said he received a lot of phone calls from parents of athletes and others upset about being prohibited from attending high school games. Presently, attendance is limited to 250 people for outdoor events and 25 for indoor events.

Everett said there should not be a “one-size-fits-all” attendance restriction across the state.

“What makes sense at Montgomery High School in Lycoming County doesn’t necessarily make sense in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania,” he said. “We just think there is leeway to be made for different school different school districts in making decisions.”

He said social distancing can be achieved at athletic contests just as it has been done elsewhere.

“We have been doing this since March,” he said. “I think people can safely watch a sporting event and not put themselves or other people in danger.”

Wheeland said school districts can certainly come up with ways to ensure social distancing. As one example, he suggested bringing in portable bleachers to stadiums for football spectators.

“People want their children back in school and people want normalcy,” he said.

Lycoming County Commissioner Scott Metzger also spoke to the issue.

“Stadiums are big enough to space out people,” he said. “The governor should let the school boards decide. There’s no reason why we can’t do this.”

Limiting numbers of spectators at a sports event will only lead to people congregating in groups further away from the game or outside the stadium to watch.

“People are going to watch their kids play,” he said.

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, who also voted in favor of the legislation, said there would no logic behind the governor vetoing it.

He said the bill giving school boards the ability to make decisions on attendance at games is a very reasonable approach to addressing the issue during COVID-19.

“Let these people decide. They know their districts,” he said.

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