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New School Sports Bill

The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a Bill that would give School Districts authority over their own Fall Sports Seasons including spectators. The Pennsylvania Senate passed House Bill 2787 by a 39 to 11 vote Wednesday, bringing School Districts one step closer to legal standing letting them choose the fate of their Fall Sports without input from the State. The Bill would give public and private schools “Exclusive authority to determine whether to hold school sports activities, including competitions, intramural play and scrimmages, and other in person extracurricular activities during the 2020-2021 School Year.”

Over 70 Republican and Democratic Representatives sponsored the Bill, which passed in the House back on September 2nd. It requires Schools develop a Health and Safety Plan that includes protocols for permitting visitors or spectators at sporting events. The protocols must meet CDC Guidelines, allow for social distancing and limit gatherings. Each School District’s plans must be posted for the public to see and be submitted to the Department of Education. It’s not clear what attendance numbers would look like, though several Republican Lawmakers are calling upon School Districts to give parents a chance to watch their kids play.

Right now, indoor gatherings are limited to 25, outdoor gatherings to 250. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman says he hopes higher attendance will be allowed at large outdoor venues like Football Stadiums. In the last few weeks the PIAA announced they would support a Fall Sports Season. Governor Wolf has recommended School Districts do not hold Fall Sports, but he has not issued a Mandate restricting them. Some Democrats who voted against the Bill said the decision should be left up to the State, as any resulting outbreaks could impact hospital systems throughout the State. Other Lawmakers highlighted the benefits of a Fall Sports Season for Student Athletes.

Having passed in both the House and Senate the Bill will now head to the Governors desk, though he’s expected to veto it. A Governors Office Spokesperson reportedly telling Pennlive the Bill is unnecessary as Districts already control School Sports decisions. Many Districts are prepared to hold Fall Sports whether the Governor signs it into Law or not.

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