Spectator confusion resolved as state confirms two per player allowed at local high school games

Following Oneida County's confirmation of the state's two spectator per player policy, the Tri-Valley League is once again allowing spectators to attend games for its member schools.

Posted: Oct 22, 2020 12:40 AM

WKTV - After 48 hours of confusion, the saga surrounding high school spectator policy in the area has been resolved.

Upon seeking clarification from the state regarding its policy, Oneida County Executive Picente released the following statement Wednesday:

"Oneida County has received an update from New York State to its coronavirus guidelines for attending outdoor school sporting events. We have been informed that the state's policy is two spectators are allowed per player for each team. That is in addition to the number of players on each team, the coaching staff, support staff, officials and media covering the event. Social distancing and face covering rules must also be observed.

"To reiterate, these guidelines are set forth by New York State, not Oneida County, and we are bound to follow and enforce what is directed. School districts have the option to impose stricter guidelines of their own if they see fit, but they cannot loosen the state's restrictions. Any concerns with this policy should be taken up directly with state officials."

The confusion seemed to stem from inconsistencies within the state guidance that included an additional line to its two spectator policy that said occupancy at games should not exceed regional limits.

Since Oneida County has a limit for certain social gatherings of 50 people or less, some school districts interpreted the rule to apply to a sporting event where the total included players, coaches, officials and staff members on the premises.

The Tri-Valley League, consisting of nine local schools, subsequently adopted a new policy on Tuesday that prohibited spectators from attending based on this interpretation.

Picente had previously said that Oneida County had not placed any additional restrictions on spectators attending school sporting evens beyond the state guidance of two per player, and that unless notified by the state otherwise, the county would continue to follow that policy.

Since Picente's statement confirming the state's, and subsequently the county's, position of two spectators per player, the Tri-Valley League officially reverted back to allowing spectators to attend under those guidelines.

Individual school districts do still maintain the right to impose stricter guidelines or limit spectators at its sports games as it deems fit.

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