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High school basketball: Hall County schools tightens attendance limits, due to rise in COVID-19 cases
New policy calls for two tickets per participant, which also applies to Lanierland
North Hall's Victoria Cape (4) is guarded by Cherokee Bluff's Taylor Click (3) during Tuesday's game in Gainesville. Photo by Bill Murphy

The Hall County Schools district will tighten attendance guidelines for basketball, based on a new plan announced by superintendent Will Schofield on Monday. Attendance will be capped at two tickets per participant, a direct result of a recent rise in COVID-19 positive tests.  

The new rule will also apply to the three-day Lanierland basketball tournament, which starts Dec. 28. Last week, it was announced in an email from Hall County Schools communications director Stan Lewis that schools with the higher seed will host games the first two days, a measure directly aimed at curbing attendance.  

Based on the latest numbers Dec. 14, Cherokee Bluff High reported 28 students and staff members who were positive for coronavirus, while C.W. Davis Middle School had 12 and Chestatee High 14. 

Previously, attendance for basketball was capped at 30% of full gym capacity for basketball through Hall County Schools, but already had extensive measures in place to improve social distancing. Players, this season, have been given more space with two rows of seats, all spread out generously from one another. 

To provide more space, bleachers have not been extended all the way to the floor. 

The decision made Monday has been embraced. 

“I appreciate everything the school system is doing to make sure these kids get to play sports,” Cherokee Bluff boys basketball coach Benjie Wood said. “Now, more than ever, they need an outlet from everything that’s going on with the coronavirus."

Swimming meets already had a halt to in-person fan attendance.

All fans for basketball are required to wear a mask and go through a temperature check at the gate. 

Gainesville High athletics director Adam Lindsey said Monday that its district does not have similar plans in the works. 

Gainesville High will host championship and third-place games for Lanierland on Dec. 30 and has adopted the same two-ticket policy for the county championship tournament.

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