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Pulaski to count cheerleaders, band as participants at football games

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 10:37 PM EST
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PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Pulaski Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers has found a way to count cheerleaders and band members as participants at football games this season, and still follow COVID guidance.

Siers said counting all those students as participants, even if they each bring two guests, will not exceed 10 percent of the stadium capacity. The stadium can hold about 10,000 people. According to state guidance, schools may exceed 30 percent, but with Pulaski’s plan, they will be able to fit everyone in and not even come close to that.

Almost every day since coronavirus shut down schools last March, the Cougars have been polishing their routines, waiting to show the competition who’s boss.

“We’re definitely lucky to be able to have this opportunity to cheer again,” said junior cheerleader Kimberly Lyons. “It’s been a very hard year I’m very grateful that they’re opening everything back up. We still have to wear our masks but it’s better than not going to school at all.”

Lyons and senior cheerleader Cara Chandler are thrilled this moment has come.

“I definitely missed cheering and stunting and I definitely missed Cougar Football,” Chandler said. “I’m just really happy that we’re back and getting back into the swing of things to make it a little bit more normal.”

It’s a normal Siers said we haven’t seen in almost a year now.

“We’re ready for this,” Siers said. “We’re ready for returning to some sense of normalcy and giving our students somewhat of a normal experience.”

Many hometown schools are not counting cheerleaders and band members as participants for outside athletic events. Pulaski’s superintendent says that needs to happen to achieve normalcy again.

“I think everyone is just hesitant because the guidance hasn’t been clear,” Siers said. “Nobody wants to be the first one to say, okay, I’m doing this.”

Pulaski wants to be the one to take that first step. The district has been working with the New River Health District on the plan. Siers said the district leader, Dr. Noelle Bissell, agreed to the plan as long as stadium capacity does not exceed 30 percent. VHSL has also given its blessing.

“They’ve missed out on so much already his year and if we can just get back a little bit of what would have been a regular high school experience for them before they graduate, I think everything we’re doing will be worthwhile,” Siers said.

“Even as a junior I just want to be able to support everyone. I enjoy cheering for the football team,” Lyons said. “I think everyone misses it, of course.”

Each student participant will be allowed to bring two guests to the game, and they all must follow public health guidance the whole time they are at the game.

“It’s not only important for me; it’s important for the whole county,” Chandler said. “There’s not only people looking at us, but everyone looking at us. It’s such a big deal for us to be able to support our boys through all of this.”

The first matchup happens Feb. 22 against Patrick Henry High School.

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