Tri-Cities high schools kickoff football season amid pandemic, limiting crowd size and promoting physical distancing

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) High school football returns Friday night, in Tennessee.

The biggest games are taking place, including Science Hill High School Hilltoppers versus Elizabethton High School Cyclones. The Cyclones are beginning their quest for a second straight state championship.

Attendance at that game will be limited for the home team, but even more so for the visitors.

At Science Hill High School, supporters who could not attend the game gathered to give the Hilltoppers a send off.

Parents and fans came together to send of the players to their first game of the season, which will be held at Elizabethton High School. Since they have limited seating to control crowd size, the band is not allowed to go and neither are the cheerleaders.

However, parents wanted the football players to know they have support even though they will not all be there in person.

Earlier this afternoon, athletic director, Keith Turner told me starting next week, they are rolling out a campaign to make sure people understand the seriousness of COVID-19.

Their slogan has been, ‘Don’t be the reason to end our season’ or to shutdown our schools. Signs are being placed everywhere like on doors, in the gym and stadium.

“There’s going to be staff to remind them of where to sit. There will be marking on their seats that will have proper social distancing. We’re going to start taping off the stadium on Monday,” Science Hill High School athletic director, Keith Turner said. “For example, if I’m a student, I’m going to have my seat and there will be two seats in between me and the next student, and then there will be nobody directly in front of them.”

School officials want the message to reach people before Science Hill has its first home game next Friday, against David Crockett High School.

“We haven’t had a large event yet but so far, we’ve done some signage, some protocols that we’ve sent to our visiting soccer teams, volleyball teams. We’ve been working since early summer as a region coming up with these protocols and procedures so this is something that should be fairly consistent at least in Northeast Tennessee,” Turner said.

Both athletic directors have been in communication with one another about promoting the physical distancing expectations for their stadiums.

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