MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Fall high school sports have returned this year, but without one major element: spectators in the stands.

“We [have] the responsibility to focus on the safety of our students and their families. Last Saturday when we made this decision, the state had 760 more positive COVID tests — the most cases NJ has announced in one day in nearly four months,” said Columbia High School Principal Frank Sanchez.

In a letter to families Principal Sanchez doubled down on the district’s decision not to allow fans, citing other districts that have had to suspend sports after multiple positive coronavirus tests.

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“We decided that it was more important to have our students play and not have any COVID cases jeopardize that,” Principal Sanchez told TAPinto SOMA. He also cited that the two age groups testing positive the most are 30-49 and 50-64, the same age range as the majority of the district's parents and grandparents. 

The district has decided to move forward with senior nights this fall to celebrate the athletes in the class of 2021. Parents will be allowed at senior nights, however there will be strict social distancing enforced. To keep the number of fans below the 500-person limit set by Governor Murphy, each player, cheerleader, and band member will receive two tickets.

While spectators are not allowed, the district is open to having a parent volunteer who can live stream the games. The district is also in communication with WSOU and CHS’ T.V. production teacher Mr. Camp to make sure the games at Underhill are recorded.

Until there is a change in the coronavirus situation families can attend away games in the districts that are allowing. Follow TAPinto SOMA for ongoing coverage of varsity sports this fall.

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