Fort Payne installing safety measures for sports season

FORT PAYNE — Fort Payne High School has plans in place to help make this fall sports season as safe as possible for its student-athletes, staff and fans.

The AHSAA revealed its return-to-play plan for high school athletics last week with the major point being that the fall sports season will begin as scheduled. The AHSAA added a list of rule modifications for every fall sport in an effort to make the season’s return a safe one.

“I think our kids need athletics, they need extracurricular activities if we are able to provide them in a safe manner,” Fort Payne Principal Brian Jett said. “I’m excited for them. I applaud the AHSAA for being able to put all of this together for us. We want our students, faculty and staff to be safe and we’re going to everything that we can to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Part of the school’s safety protocol will include student-athletes and gameday personnel being screened prior to events, including officials, trainers, scorers, ball girls, ball boys and chain crews. All will be screened using a screening tool provided by the AHSAA. The procedure includes a temperature check and a series of health questions.

Jett said Fort Payne will also provide a digital-only ticketing solution for all home athletic events this school year. In an effort to limit person-to-person contact and shorten waiting times, tickets can be purchased prior to an event through the GoFan website and app or on site via credit card. All major credit cards are accepted, including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and Apple Pay. 

Digital tickets are sent to a preferred email address after purchase or can be accessed through the GoFan mobile app. Tickets will be redeemed directly from a phone upon entry into an event.

“Beginning for the 2020-21 school year, Fort Payne High School will begin implementing a card- and mobile payment-only ticketing policy at all athletic events — no cash will be accepted,” Jett said. “Fans will be able to purchase tickets online through Fort Payne High School’s GoFan page or by presenting a debit/credit card (or mobile payment option) at the ticket gate.”

Jett said Fort Payne will not screen fans prior to entry of home sporting events, but asks that fans screen themselves before attending.’

“If you’re not feeling well, please stay at home, check your temperature,” he said.

All of our athletic venues will be at 50% capacity or less, Jett said. 

“If it’s varsity-only volleyball, we’ll have both sides of the gym set up and we’ll be able to get 50% of the fans in there,” he said. “If both JV and varsity are playing, it could be a fourth of the seating, it could be an eighth of the seating.”

For football games, Wildcat Stadium will be set up similarly to how it was for the school’s 2020 graduation, with just less than half capacity for home fans and visitors.

The school will also have signs displayed around its athletic venues encouraging fans to adhere to social-distancing guidelines and maintain a six-foot distance between themselves at all times.

Jett said in situations where a six-foot distance can’t be maintained, face-coverings will be required at all sporting events.

To allow visiting teams more locker room space, the stage in the school’s gym will likely be used for that purpose, Jett said. If a larger team is visiting and requires additional space, the entire gymnasium will be used as a locker room area.

“We’re playing a closer role in disinfecting our locker rooms and allowing larger distances for locker room areas for our visiting schools will be a good thing for everyone,” Jett said.

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