No spectators allowed when high school sports begin in Loudoun Co.

When high school sports events begin in December, no spectators will be permitted to attend the games due to COVID-19 restrictions, Loudoun County Public Schools has announced.

The return of high school sports was triggered after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed an amended Executive Order 67 last Thursday, which includes changes regarding recreational sports.

Under Northam’s order, indoor and outdoor sports can be played if the total number of attendees is less than 250 people. Smaller venues can host events with no more than 50% capacity.

However, Loudoun County’s school system is taking stronger steps to try to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus, after “a careful review of LCPS facilities,” and evaluating the public health mitigation strategies.

“LCPS has determined that the best option at this time is to prohibit all spectators from attending our athletic competitions. We know how enthusiastic many LCPS fans are regarding team sports, and appreciate that decision will be disappointing to many,” the school system said in a news release.

The school system said the decision will provide time to evaluate the effectiveness of physical distancing and safety protocol changes developed to allow the return of sports.

“We will begin with no spectators to acclimate our schools with the new mitigation strategies for teams, cheerleaders, officials, medical personnel and event staff,” according to the school system, “and reduce the chances that schedules may be impacted by inadvertent exposure to the COVID virus.”

The school system says its decision applies only to the upcoming winter sports season.

“Separate decisions will be made as we continue to monitor local health data, health mitigation strategies and other factors.”

Loudoun County high school games livestreamed

Coincidentally, the school system said, 54 Pixellot cameras have been installed in county high school sports venues in the past year as part of a cooperative agreement with The NFHS Network, which livestreams high school games nationwide.

The unmanned, wide-angle cameras — which capture an entire field or court — have been installed at all of the county’s 17 high schools.

According to the school system, subscriptions to The NFHS Network cost $10.99 monthly, or $69.99 for an annual pass.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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