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CMS Leaders Worry That Unmasked Crowds In High School Stadiums Could Spread COVID-19

Some Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials are worried that COVID-19 could spread among unmasked crowds at football games. They say that could lead to new restrictions.

Face coverings are not required outdoors, even when people crowd together to yell and cheer.

CMS board member Carol Sawyer raised concerns about that this week after seeing a photo from the Providence High Instagram page. The photo shows unmasked fans packed into a stadium for a football game.

"Are we discussing limiting capacity, or spreading kids out, or insisting kids mask even outdoors if they’re in this kind of packed CMS facility?" she asked at Tuesday's board meeting.

Deputy Superintendent Matt Hayes said CMS recommends wearing masks at crowded outdoor events and provides masks at football games. He says his staff is watching to see whether that’s enough.

"If we see that it becomes an issue, something will have to give," he said. "So either attendance will have to be dropped or athletics themselves may have to be paused."

Hayes says CMS athletic directors and coaches have shared the message that masks in the bleachers may help protect the sports program. Sawyer said she'd like to have announcements before each game reminding spectators to mask up.

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Corrected: August 26, 2021 at 4:33 PM EDT
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Providence had a cluster related to its football team. That cluster was at Independence High.