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CMS Fall Sports Resume This Week With Fewer COVID-19 Restrictions

Tony Teske/KAST Design Co.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg student-athletes will return to the field this week ahead of the official start of school on Aug. 25. The school district's first games and competitions are scheduled to start on Monday, and they'll get underway with fewer COVID-19 safety precautions compared to last year.

For instance, gone is the requirement that students wear face masks when playing or practicing indoors. Gone too are attendance limits and requirements that fans wear masks unless they're inside.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association released some safety guidelines for fall sports earlier this month, which said social distancing is recommended for players and coaches wherever possible, and unvaccinated individuals are encouraged to wear face coverings when they're around others.

However, the association's guidelines are only recommendations, and the organization is largely leaving it up to local school districts to come up with their own COVID-19 safety rules this semester.

In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, all athletes, coaches and spectators will only be required to wear face coverings while indoors or on buses.

School gyms and stadiums can operate at 100% capacity, but fans will be required to "maintain distance" from each other and people who haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19 are asked to wear face coverings in crowded outdoor settings, according to a document the district shared with WFAE.

Concession stands will also continue to sell pre-packaged food and drink at all CMS venues, and signs will be posted at all venue entrances reminding people that masks are required indoors.

Hough High soccer coach David Smith says he's excited for his men's team to play without masks at their first game against Myers Park High on Tuesday, but he's staying cautious and keeping players socially distanced to avoid a repeat of last January, when CMS paused sports for a four week period as COVID-19 cases peaked.

"I hope we don't have to go through something like that again, so I'm cautiously optimistic, is the best way to look at it," Smith said.

Other CMS sports holding their first games and competitions this week include cross-country, volleyball, tennis and football. CMS's full schedule for fall sports is on the CMS Athletics website.

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Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal