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High school football begins across Missouri under new protocols

"All players must have a mask to immediately cover their mouth and nose with once they step off the field from play"

ST CHARLES, Mo. — The high school football season officially begins Friday night for many teams across Missouri, outside of St. Louis County.

St. Louis County teams resumed full-team training this week under Phase 3 of the county's return-to-play plan. Teams in St. Charles County and Jefferson County, as well as others across Mid-Missouri, will begin their fall season with week one of games.

Many teams, like Fort Zumwalt North, will drive nearly two hours for their first regular season game.

Fort Zumwalt North will play Battle High School in a regular season game for the first time in school history, and Jackson High School will drive two hours to play Fort Zumwalt West for the first time in regular season history.

Fort Zumwalt North head football coach Joe Bacon said the team will travel with multiple school buses, in order to properly social distance players and coaches.

Everyone must wear a mask for the entire duration of the bus ride, and temperatures will be taken before getting on the bus.

Players and coaches must answer a COVID-19 symptom questionnaire every day.

Along with unique road trips, teams are also playing under unique protocols. All teams will play under MSHSAA guidelines, which are updated frequently.

All student athletes must wear a MSHSAA approved face covering under their helmets if they are not currently engaged in high-contact play. This means that all players must have a mask to immediately cover their mouth and nose with once they step off the field from play.

All players must socially distance at least two yards apart on the sidelines.

Each player will have a designated area where a face covering and water bottle will be placed during play. Coaches and officials must wear a face covering for the duration of the game.

Each team will be required to provide sanitizer for players during the game and must regularly wipe down equipment after use.

Schools will be allowed to permit fans in the stadium at 25% limited capacity. Bacon said Fort Zumwalt was required to send a list to Battle High School in advance with the names of 50 parents that will be traveling to the game.

If a fan’s name is not on the list, they will not be permitted to enter the stadium at Battle High School.

Fort Zumwalt North is allowing two parents per senior student to attend, one parent per junior to attend and one parent per sophomore to attend, if possible when the team travels Friday.

Bacon said they are hopeful that more players and parents will be permitted to travel in future games.

Fort Zumwalt high schools have marked off certain bleachers in the stands in order for fans to socially distance at home games.

Bacon added that Fort Zumwalt North will follow all MSHSAA guidelines, as well as implement their own strategies where needed to keep players and staff safe.

Bacon said no one within the football program has experienced any COVID-19 related issues since beginning training.