CORONAVIRUS

No fans allowed at 2 Iowa City high school football games Friday night

Schools in Metro and elsewhere limiting fans, requiring them to wear facemasks

Stadium lights are turned on over Trojan Field at Iowa City West High School in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. A
Stadium lights are turned on over Trojan Field at Iowa City West High School in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. All Iowa City high schools turned on their athletic facility lights for 20 minutes Wednesday night to honor senior athletes. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Before you go to your favorite high school to embark on the grand tradition of Friday Night Lights, check with it first.

You might not even be able to get in.

That will be the case for at least two football games scheduled to be played Friday night in Iowa City. A severe coronavirus outbreak in Johnson County has prompted the Iowa City Community School District to ban fans from attending Davenport Central at Iowa City High and Iowa City West at Iowa City Liberty.

Iowa City Regina hosts Pleasant Valley as well, but there was no immediate word on what that private school would do.

“Due to the significant increase in COVID-19 positivity rates in our community and the Governor’s announcement today restricting social gatherings in Johnson County, the District is compelled to further limit any mass gatherings associated with District actvities and events,” said a statement from the ICCSD. “As such, until further notice, the District is prohibiting all spectators at District-sponsored activities and athletic events held on District campuses. The restriction goes into effect today, Thursday, August 27, 2020, and helps ensure the continued health and safety of our student-athletes, student performers, staff and coaches.”

The state reported a record-high 338 positive COVID-19 cases in the county Thursday, with a positivity rate of 47.6 percent. Its weekly average for positive cases is 115.

Governor Kim Reynolds ordered bars to close Thursday in six counties, including Johnson. The return to campus of University of Iowa students is assumed to be playing a large role in the burgeoning coronavirus numbers.

“Our priority is to provide the opportunity for our student-athletes and performers to participate to the fullest extent that is safely possible,” the ICCSD statement said. “Any events that were previously scheduled for Thursday, August 27 through Saturday, August 29th will continue as planned: however, spectators will not be allowed.

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“We recognize that this is disappointing information. Athletic competitions and student performances serve as a way to bring our communities together. We celebrate our students, and more importantly, it allows our students to represent their schools with pride. We feel for our students that are missing the traditional experience, but we must continue to prioritize health and safety.”

Each school in the state has set safety protocols for football games and all fall sports to keep fans and competitors as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic. Many are limiting the amount of people who can attend events.

Solon, also located in Johnson County, announced Thursday it is limiting capacity for its Friday night home football game against Williamsburg to 500 fans. Cedar Rapids Prairie has set a 50-percent capacity limit for both schools for its game Friday night at John Wall Field against Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

Once that limit has been hit, anyone trying to enter the stadium will be turned away. Each player, coach, cheerleader, dance team member and band member has been given four passes to distribute to family that will guarantee admission.

The first row of bleachers in the stadium will be blocked off and the Prairie student section widened. All fans must wear masks, and there will be a temperature check at each entrance gate.

For the cross-town clash between Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Cedar Rapids Washington at Kingston Stadium, masks are required to be worn at all times and general seating will be on an every-other-row basis, with a limited amount of available seats per row. Rows that are not to be sat in will be marked with an ‘X.’

Each school’s student section will be widened and also limited to every other row. Seats will be marked for one student each to use.

A release from the Cedar Rapids Community School District said all coaches and ballboys are expected to always wear masks, as are players who are not in the game.

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Cedar Rapids Xavier also is operating at 50-percent capacity at Saints Field for its game against Western Dubuque. Each player, coach, cheerleader, dance team member and band member is allowed three passes.

The school is limiting its student section to 135, tickets sold on a first-come, first-served basis. It also is making available 100 general admission tickets at the gate Friday on a first-come, first-served basis.

All spectators will have assigned seating areas and masks are required.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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