High school football resumes in Montgomery County, sport teams must follow COVID-19 protocols

High school football is back in Montgomery County, but not without some restrictions.

There are only three games left in the season but in a unanimous 9-0 vote on Friday afternoon, the county council said that teams will have to follow a "COVID Protocol Plan" in order to continue playing.

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Teams could begin practice and conditioning on Friday. There are only three football games left to play for the season, which begin on March 26. 

The new rules include:

• Contact tracing with an attendance tracking sheet that must be completed for all activities conducted;

• Require that face coverings be worn per guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics;

• Social distancing with at least six feet between all participants to the extent possible; and

• Require the use of a student attestation form or COVID-19 athlete or coach monitoring form at all activities conducted.

"Me and my teammates are ready to follow any guidelines like even wear masks under our helmets and any rules they have, we will do it, we just want to play," said Brian Plummer a quarterback at Quince Orchard High School. 

Health officials deemed football as high risk when it came to spreading COVID-19, meaning that the sport was not being permitted to practice with "full protective equipment" and "contact".

In addition, cheerleaders could not perform stunting and pompoms were not allowed to perform kick lines.

Friday’s vote come after parents, coaches and high school athletes had been pressing county leaders to loosen restrictions on the sport.

"It’s no different to play football than it is to play all these other sports," said Steve Gardner, whose two sons are football players at Walter Johnson High School.

"I think the real issue was that they decided that hockey could go forward and that was indoors and you know a lot of people just jumped up and said ‘This doesn’t seem right in particularly for football.’"

Sports events have to continue to follow capacity limits on gatherings, meaning 50 people at outdoor events and 25 people for indoor events. 

For tournaments, championships or other events in the county that are expected to exceed those capacity limits, organizers have to get a separate "letter of approval" from the county before moving forward.