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MSHSAA strips Hazelwood schools of hosting home playoff games due to COVID-19 spectator policy

MSHSAA strips Hazelwood schools of hosting home playoff games due to COVID-19 spectator policy

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There will be no postseason games of any kind at Hazelwood high schools this school year with one exception — when they can host each other.

In response to the Hazelwood School District’s requirement that visiting spectators show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within a week’s time, the Missouri State High School Activities Association will not allow postseason games of any kind to be hosted by Hazelwood Central, Hazelwood East or Hazelwood West in any sports.

In a letter addressed to Christopher Norman, the Hazelwood School District chief financial officer/assistant superintendent, MSHSAA executive director Kerwin Urhahn explained the decision:

“The Missouri State High School Activities Association appreciates your stance and we respect your ability to set local school policy regarding vaccination and testing in order to come onto any of your campuses. In alignment with your policy and not placing your school district in a position to have to turn away spectators at postseason events, since we will not be requiring our member schools that may have to play on your school teams to be fully vaccinated or show proof of negative test in the last week in accordance with your local school policy, Hazelwood East, Hazelwood Central and Hazelwood West high schools will not be allowed to serve as host sites for any MSHSAA postseason events.”

The Hazelwood Central football team lost out on a home game this weekend. The No. 3 seed in the Class 6 District 2 tournament, Hazelwood Central (7-2) will travel to No. 6 seed Hickman (3-6) to play at 7 p.m. Friday.

The No. 2 seed in the Class 4 District 4 football tournament, Hazelwood East (5-5) should have hosted No. 7 St. Charles (1-9) but was prepared to play a road game before the Pirates ultimately forfeited the game Tuesday due to a roster depleted by injury and contact tracing.

With the forfeit, Hazelwood East advanced to the district semifinals, where it will travel to face the winner of No. 3 seed Jennings (6-3) and No. 6 seed McCluer North (0-8).

“Our district is committed to offering students opportunities to enjoy the experience of participating in HSD athletic events, and we were looking forward to hosting postseason athletic events this fall. Unfortunately, MSHSAA has objected to the specific requirement that visiting spectators provide valid proof of COVID-19 vaccination to attend district athletic events. The aforementioned requirement is in place to help keep our students and employees healthy and inside the classroom to engage in face-to-face instruction. Since the beginning of the school year, the number of COVID-19 positive students and employees in HSD have both remained below 1 percent. HSD's success in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our schools is directly tied to our mitigation strategies,” the Hazelwood School District wrote in a letter to parents last week.

In an effort to support its student-athletes in the postseason, the Hazelwood School District will provide transportation and cover the cost of admission for the first 300 students that register to attend each event outside of the district. To be eligible students must have attended 90 percent of their classes, not have been suspended for more than 10 days and carry a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

According to MSHSAA spokesperson Jason West, the Hazelwood School District is the only district that has been affected by this action because it is the only district with this type of spectator policy.

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