OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Jenks Public Schools issued an apology after its football fans received widespread criticism for not wearing masks or following social distancing recommendations during a state championship game on Saturday.
A photo the Tulsa-area school district posted to its Facebook page following the team's win over Edmond Santa Fe showed dozens of fans packed shoulder-to-shoulder, most of them not wearing masks.
“Jenks Public Schools acknowledges and accepts this criticism," the district said in a statement posted to its page on Sunday. “There were too many high school students without masks and too many high school students in close contact with one another. This is not the kind of safe environment JPS seeks to create for students and staff members."
The University of Central Oklahoma and the City of Edmond, where the game was played, both have rules in place that require people to wear masks when around others in public.
David Jackson, the executive director of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, said the group worked diligently with the university to limit attendance, require masks for entry and mark seats for spacing, but that many of those rules were ignored after the game ended, particularly in the student section.
“The student section and the parents couldn’t get on the field, and they congregated. That made the picture look really bad, and we understand that," Jackson said. “But we don’t think that was the way people managed themselves throughout the game."
Jackson said the OSSAA will work with the university and school administrators to be stricter about compliance during this weekend's football championship games, including ejecting people who refuse to comply with safety protocols.
Oklahoma has seen dramatic increases in its coronavirus cases, positivity rate and deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Oklahoma health officials on Monday reported 1,903 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 15 additional deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 218,389 and the state's death count to 1,911 since the pandemic began in March. The true number of infections in Oklahoma is likely higher because many haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Oklahoma has risen over the past two weeks from 15.14 deaths per day on Nov. 22 to 22.86 deaths per day on Dec. 6, while the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in has risen over the same period from 2,886 new cases per day to 2,991.57 new cases per day, according to Johns Hopkins data.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.