NJ school sports reopen to parents and spectators

Parents can once again go watch their children's school sporting events in New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday signed an executive order allowing up to two parents or guardians to attend indoor and outdoor school sports. The order will continue to cap indoor attendance at 35% of capacity or 150 people, the governor said.

"As a father of four, I know how difficult it has been for many parents to not be able to see their kids participate in sports," Murphy said in a statement. "With our metrics trending in the right direction, we feel comfortable taking this step and allowing parents back into youth sporting events."

An order the governor issued late last year banned spectators from school athletics due to surging cases of the coronavirus. Murphy cited COVID-19 trends heading in the right direction as the reason for the change, which takes effect immediately.

"All spectators must follow the Department of Health's sports activities guidance including mask requirements, social distancing guidelines, and staying home when sick," the governor's office said in a statement. "School districts will retain the ability to impose stricter guidelines and not allow spectators, and also have the discretion on whether and when to implement today's policy regarding parents or guardians."

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Jersey fell from 5,013 on Jan. 28 to 3,891 new cases per day on Thursday.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association welcomed the order.

"We hope this order marks another positive step in the return to play," NJSIAA said in a statement. "At the same time we urge parents to give our member schools time to review the governor's order and determine both overall feasibility and a specific process for increasing occupancy as outlined."

The association has been posting detailed information and resources on pandemic safety

"Stay safe and mask up!" the website states. "Spread Sportsmanship... NOT COVID!" 

With The Associated Press

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