Columbia High School Principal: No Spectators Permitted for Fall Sports

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From Columbia High School Principal Frank Sanchez, September 26, 2020:

Dear Parents & Guardians,

Interim Athletic Director Mr. Ken Mullen and I are excited about the start of the Fall athletic season. We hope it is a great signal to a return of some normalcy for our students. Although we know this season will be unlike any other, the benefits taught in athletics remain — sportsmanship, teamwork, perseverance, and comradery.

We are extremely fortunate to be in a position to run a fall athletic season, which is a tribute to Mr. Mullen’s leadership and to our coaches, nurses, athletes, and families who adhered to proper protocols during our summer workouts and preseason. We are finishing our final scrimmages just as several districts across the state have recently closed their sports programs or reverted to full online instruction due to an outbreak of student cases. That is why we must remain vigilant to maintain our staff and students’ health.

Therefore, after consulting with several other districts and with our own health officials, we have decided to restrict spectators from all games, including parents and Columbia students, when the season starts on October 1st. Please know that this was not an easy decision for our District. The NHL, NBA, and MLB professional games are being held in facilities much larger than our own without fans because the spread of COVID-19 is a real threat.  If these professional leagues, with their vast resources and funding, do not feel they can monitor and ensure everyone’s safety, then how can we?

I understand that this decision will not be popular with our student-athletes who were looking forward to the roar of Cougar Nation from our stands. I also understand how disappointing it is for parents to miss their children’s games. However, safety is our first priority. We will work with each coach to designate a volunteer team parent to record the games so that video can be shared.

Fortunately, our children will still be able to practice and play games while many other students across New Jersey and from other states will not have that opportunity at all.

Of course, to keep our student-athletes safe, we will continue to have them fill out the Daily Self-Assessment/COVID Questionnaire and wear a mask when checking into each practice/game, provide their own water/hydration drink, bring hand sanitizer for themselves, and maintain social distancing prior to and after each practice/game.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the athletic department. Thank you in advance for your support. Together, we got this.


Frank Sanchez

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