BVPS superintendent asks Gov. Northam through letter to allow cheerleaders, band at outdoor sporting events

Local Coronavirus Coverage

BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – The superintendent of Bristol Virginia Public Schools sent a letter to Governor Ralph Northam asking him to change guidelines to allow cheerleaders and band members to perform at outdoor sporting events.

In the letter, Superintendent Keith Perrigan told Northam that BVPS had experienced great success at welcoming back in-person learners and safe indoor sports.

“We believe that we can do the same thing in regard to the upcoming outdoor sports season,” Perrigan wrote.

The letter states that BVPS has seen no transmission of COVID-19 during its indoor sports season because of leadership’s careful planning “based on community metrics and need, and constantly tweaked for improvement.”

Perrigan wrote that when BVPS has been granted authority to create its own approaches to the pandemic, they have seen positive results.

Unfortunately, when required to follow a one-size-fits-all plan that is meant to work for Thomas Walker High School in Lee County and Tuscarora High School in Loudoun County, it becomes almost impossible for the plan to be effective. Subtle intricacies such as the lack of consideration of stadium capacity, the refusal to identify band members and cheerleaders as participants while only acknowledging their existence in a hard to find F.A.Q. document, and the ability to sit six feet apart at an indoor sporting event while requiring ten feet of distance at an outdoor event, demonstrate the lack of flexibility and precise attention needed to develop a plan that will actually work locally.

Keith Perrigan, Superintendent

The letter also states that the tighter restriction of 250 spectators at outdoor sporting events would actually require more space than what BVPS has requested. The district has asked that 307 spectators be the limit at games, since family units would be able to sit together without being spaced out.

Perrigan asked that both band members and cheerleaders be reclassified as participants, rather than spectators.

After stating the district’s requests, Perrigan told Northam that BVPS believes it can allow cheerleaders and band members at events, regardless of the governor’s approval.

“Our legal team believes that we may have the authority to implement the plan without your approval based on Title IX and Exceptions provided in the Executive Order itself. However, in my role as Superintendent I feel that I need to demonstrate to our students the proper way to resolve disagreement with authority, policy, and elected officials,” Perrigan stated.

You can read the full letter below:

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