No spectators permitted at high school sporting events in Kingston, Ont.

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WATCH: High school sports may be coming back to the Kingston area, but student-athletes will be playing in front of empty stands, at least for the time being – Sep 28, 2021

It’s the time of year when high school athletics are starting up.

Unlike last year, there will be a season but it will look a little bit different than in previous years.

Local school boards as well as the Kingston Area Secondary School Athletics Association (KASSAA), the governing body for high school athletics in Kingston, has announced its return-to-play protocols.

It won’t be letting spectators attend games and events, even those held outdoors.

Read more: Ontario government backtracks and allows high-contact sports after back-to-school guidance released

The move has left parents like Sabra Gibbens wondering why the same COVID-19 protocols as other sporting events couldn’t have been implemented.

“We could take the approach in terms of spectators in saying if you want to come and cheer on your athlete, then we expect you to show proof of vaccination,” Dr. Sabra Gibbens said.

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“The vast majority of us would be perfectly happy to do that.”

Limestone School Board officials say the decision was made along with KASSAA and KFL&A Public Health and that unlike Queen’s or the Kingston Frontenacs, which are permitting spectators to attend, their staff are all volunteers and that following public health protocols would be much more difficult to ensure.

“And that is always our first priority, is making sure our students are safe,” associate superintendent of safe and caring schools for Limestone District School Board, Patty Gollogly said.

“And as we go through our process making sure that we’re keeping everyone where we’re not having an outbreak — and we’re just following a process.”

Click to play video: 'High School sports is back in Kingston after a two year absence.' High School sports is back in Kingston after a two year absence.
High School sports is back in Kingston after a two year absence – Sep 13, 2021

The school board says that if parents want to attend the games or events, they need to remain in their vehicles.

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Gibbens is worried that the protocols may have a negative impact on some students, especially those looking to pursue athletics after high school.

Her concern is that this will prevent scouts from colleges and universities from attending games.

“Sports is not just physical and mental, but it’s also a gateway to post-secondary opportunities that may now be diminished,” Dr. Gibbens said.

But the local school board says the situation is constantly evolving, and things could change if Ontario’s case counts remain low.

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