Security and staff will be prepared to kick out spectators at the remaining state high school championship football games in order to enforce masking and distancing requirements, David Jackson said Monday.
The executive director of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association spoke with reporters following online backlash spurred by Saturday’s game between Jenks and Edmond Santa Fe High Schools.
“Security is going to be more active,” Jackson said, referring to the remaining games scheduled for this weekend. “We don’t’ want to have to escort anyone out. We want you to come there and enjoy great high school football. But if it does come to that, then yes, we’re going to be prepared to do so.”
Seats inside the stadium were marked to encourage social distancing and reminders were regularly broadcasted by the announcer and Jumbotron, Jackson said, but it wasn't enough.
Going forward, Jackson said staff will help guide spectators to areas of the stadium to spread out the crowd although there will not be assigned seating.
“We’re going to be more active in directing them to specific areas and closing off some seating to make sure we can achieve the spacing we’re trying to get,” he said.
Jenks Public Schools posted a photo showing its student section after the 41-14 win over Edmond Santa Fe. Few people are seen wearing masks as they clumped together to celebrate the Trojan’s 17th state championship.
“This was not up to the standard that is expected,” Jenks Public Schools said in a statement. “There were too many high school students without masks and too many high school students in close contact with one another. This is not the kind of safe environment JPS seeks to create for students and staff members.”
“Jenks Public Schools and Jenks High School sincerely apologizes for this mistake,” the district said.
The game’s host, the University of Central Oklahoma released a statement on the crowd and its compliance.
“This is behavior that would not be acceptable among our students, faculty and staff, and it should not have been acceptable from those at the stadium,” Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar, UCO’s President said in a statement.
“UCO Athletics is working with OSSAA and the school district involved in the upcoming games to ensure compliance with COVID-19 protocols,” she said.
“We don't want such a special time for our students, for our schools their friends and families... to be tainted with COVID-related issues,” Jackson said.