The Missoula City County Health Department released guidance on Friday regarding high school sports that will permit spectators.

Health Officer Ellen Leahy said football is the sport most discussed for COVID 19 restrictions, and provided the following rules.

“If your school is playing 11 man football and you want to have spectators, what this guidance says is that you can have 60 people on each side,” said Leahy. “So both the home and away teams can have 60, but that does also count your coach, and your chain gang because they're right in there mixing, so you can still have quite a number of players and still not have your players particularly in Class AA  need to play both offense and defense, because that's where a lot of the repeat injuries come in, according to the athletic directors.”

The guidance that we issued today doesn't really apply unless that school athletic event wants to include spectators and most of them do.

Leahy said the smaller schools in other classifications have other rules.

“We have a Class A and Class B, and they don't want to push their team numbers down too far for the same reasons,” she said. “You know the kids want to play and we don't want to encourage injuries, so they can have 45 on each side which would allow a maximum of 90.”

Leahy described how the issue of spectators was solved.

“In football, all the large counties limited if they allowed spectators, and five of them have and Missoula is one, they are allowing only home game spectators, unless it's a cross town game,” she said. “So if it's a cross town game and you're not looking at that kind of travel and you know, they're both really home teams, then the parents on both sides, both high schools can each have two tickets.”

Leahy said the issue is moot if there will be no spectators allowed at the games.

“The guidance that we issued today doesn't really apply unless that school athletic event wants to include spectators and most of them do,” she said.”

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