Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, one of the state’s top football programs, did not enforce mask usage and social distancing at their September 18th football game.
This has raised public health concerns and questions over how Wichita Public Schools will handle crowds once fans are allowed back in the stadiums.
Photos captured by Jaron Mullins and Savannah Wiench, shows fans side-by-side in their seats on Sept. 18, four days after County Public Health Officer Garold Minns changed the county’s public health order from ‘voluntary’ to ‘mandatory’ meaning the city could pursue civil fines with the school.
Upon viewing the pictures associated with this story, Sedgwick County Public Information Officer Kate Flavin said, “The people in the photos that were provided are not practicing the healthy behaviors listed in the local health order from Dr. Minns.”
Many of the spectators in this crowd were not following the six foot social distancing guideline or wearing a mask. “The Health Department wishes to emphasize the importance of keeping six feet distance between people who are not of the same household, wearing a mask if you are able, and washing your hands often with soap and water,” Flavin said, “Masks are required in public gatherings even if all members are in the same household.”
Flavin did not say whether or not the Sedgwick County Health Department would pursue any action.
Bishop Carroll, a private school that has opted out of Governor Laura Kelly’s reopening plan, didn’t respond to our request for comment.
West High and other USD 259 schools will not be playing against Bishop Carroll or other out-of-district schools in any fall sports this year as a part of the district’s efforts to keep student athletes safe.
USD 259 has prohibited fans from entering the stadium, to combat COVID spread. “Our board of education is the one that makes the policies and they felt like this was the best action to try to minimize the chances of anyone getting COVID 19 virus.” District Athletic Director J. Means said.
Some fans have begun to crowd around the fences in order to view the games. USD 259, however, does not accept responsibility for spectators who are outside of their stadiums.
“We’re just responsible for them inside the stadium” Means said, “We are not going to tell people they can’t come onto our property and stand outside the fences. We just believe that’s their decision to make and if they’re not social distancing that’s something that they have to decide; whether it’s important or not when they are outside like that.”
On October 5th the Board of Education for USD259 is revisiting the district’s athletics policy and whether to allow fans into the games.
“If and when we ever allow some fans then once they’re in the stadium then yes, we would ask them to follow whatever rules we set down because we are responsible for them once they come inside the stadium.” Means said.