GAINESVILLE — As the North Hall baseball team was wrapping up it’s Class 3A state title last week, it also marked the end of perhaps one of the most unusual, and challenging, sports seasons in high school history.
From no fans and mask protocols in the fall of 2020, to eventually allowing 100 percent capacity by the spring of 2021, sports teams and fans around the area, state, and nation endured more than a few changes.
So, now that school systems have officially turned the clock on the 2020-21 season and begin focusing on the 2021-22 season, what can we expect in the northeast Georgia area?
Hall County is the largest system in northeast Georgia with seven schools. Jackson County with two schools -- Jackson County and East Jackson -- is the only other system that has more than one school. The rest, like Habersham Central, White County, and Dawson County, are single-school systems. Most of the systems outside of Hall County operated at near-full capacity, or at 50 percent in 2020-21.
Hall County Director of Communications and Athletics Stan Lewis shed some light last week on what fans can expect as the 2021-22 season draws closer.
“Currently, we are at 100 percent capacity for outdoor events,” Lewis said. “In the next week or so we will discuss capacity for indoor extracurricular activities.”
If nothing changes before August, the sports of football, softball, and cross country could operate with no real restrictions in Hall County. Volleyball, the only indoor sport (not counting things like drama, band, etc) will be discussed in the coming weeks.
Most professional and college leagues have stated they are going to open things up to 100 percent capacity, if they haven’t already. However, Lewis said Hall County is not ready to completely return to pre-COVID protocols, at least not yet.
“In our view, it is too early to put protocols in place for the 2021-2022 school year. However, we are extremely hopeful as the (COVID) numbers certainly do look promising. We have eased up on some restrictions as the COVID numbers in the community continue to improve.”
Lewis mentioned that by mid-July they hope to have some more definitive answers.
“The district will continue to consult with healthcare officials and monitor community and district numbers,” Lewis said. “As we draw closer to the beginning of the new school year, we should have a more clear picture of what protocols will be in place in our athletic venues.”