Is it safe to play high school football in Alabama right now?

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Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 2:42 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - High school football teams around the state of Alabama continue to work towards kickoff one week from Friday.

This comes after Vestavia Hills has canceled its first two games after an outbreak of COVID-19 sidelined Coach Buddy Anderson and some players.

Dr. Michael Saag, the UAB Director of Infectious Diseases, has some doubts and concerns. At the same time high school athletic officials believe they are doing all they can to protect student athletes, their coaching staff, and fans, but they all know it’s a risk.

The school plans to resume practice August 21. They have followed all of the guidelines put in place by the Alabama High School Athletic Association to protect players and coaches.

“We can’t eliminate the risk. Nobody can eliminate the risk. I tell kids and parents all the time, it’s like getting into a car. It’s dangerous, but you know what you do you put on your seat belt,” said Jeff Segars, Vestavia Hills High School Athletic Director.

We recently asked Dr. Saag if high school football games are going to be safe.

“It’s going to be a huge challenge. We know from other sports, we know there is going to be transmission between the players for sure. We can expect that,” Saag said.

High school football games will require people to wear face masks all during the game and to socially distance between families. But, Saag said the lack of testing is a problem.

“It’s impossible for every high school to test every student. It’s impossible for even them to do what we call Sentinel testing which is to see what trends are happening by sampling,” Saag said.

High schools have set up protocols if there is an outbreak. Saag believes tough decisions will have to be made during the season.

“The question is what happens not if, but when those cases appear? At what point are we at where the school principals or superintendents will have to call it off?” Saag said.

The high schools hope to keep the season going with their guidelines. The high school athletic association will talk more about guidelines next week. And the fans are warned - wear those masks during the game or you may be asked to leave.

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