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Jefferson County high school will enforce coronavirus precautions after packing gym for basketball

Jefferson County high school will enforce coronavirus precautions after packing gym for basketball

St. Pius X vs. Jefferson boys basketball

A full crowd was on hand Friday during a boys basketball game between St. Pius X and Jefferson at St. Pius X High School in Jefferson County. Photo by Paul Kopsky,

St. Pius X High School in Festus will enforce mask wearing and limit the number of spectators at sporting events after the Archdiocese of St. Louis fielded complaints about the crowd at a recent basketball game.

"We understand the passion and desire that we all have to support our St. Pius X teams, but in order to continue to participate in these events, we must work together to address concerns related to COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of our entire school community," reads a letter sent to parents Wednesday from school president Jim Lehn.

The St. Pius boys basketball team drew a large crowd to its game Friday, beating Jefferson R-7 65-55. Fans were packed tight in the bleachers, and few were wearing face coverings. 

Photos from the game circulated widely on social media, prompting calls to the school and the Archdiocese.

"The archdiocese remains confident in the leadership team of St. Pius X, and we are grateful for the great work President Jim Lehn and his team have done in continuing to provide a quality Catholic education to students safely," reads a statement Wednesday from the Archdiocese. "School leaders assure us that going forward, a more stringent policy regarding COVID-19 safety guidelines will be implemented for all school activities, including athletic events, to address the concerns we have received regarding proper social distancing and mask wearing."

A mask mandate is in effect in Jefferson County until Feb. 25 for residents over the age of 10 when they are in contact with people in public indoor places.

Lehn previously told the Post-Dispatch that masks and social distancing had been encouraged at St. Pius games but not enforced. Students have been attending classes in-person at the school since August, except for one week in November when a large number of students were under quarantine.

St. Pius is set to host McKinley from St. Louis Public Schools on Saturday in the Class 3 District 4 boys' basketball tournament. The game will be streamed on the St. Pius Facebook page, Lehn said.

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