Fall sports to begin in Orange County, but cheerleaders, bands will be sidelined

Orange County Public School (OCPS) officials laid out of a detailed plan Tuesday night of the plan for fall sports. Some are upset that marching bands and cheerleading squads will not be allowed to participate during football games. 

Football, cheerleading, cross country, and other fall sports all start next week with first games and matches set for the week of September 14. 

Things will look different. The biggest change is football games will allow attendance at 25% capacity. 

"We really need to get our arms around with the spacing in the stadium is going to look like as we extend sidelines and really get a grasp of doing this safely," said Dr. Harold Border, OCPS Chief of High Schools.

Excluding cheerleaders and bands sparked some outrage from several board members, who offered up alternatives.

"I just really don’t feel like it’s fair to eliminate sideline cheerleaders. I think that it’s more important for our students, our athletes to be on the field than I even think it is for spectators," said Angie Gallo, OCPS Board Member, District 1.

Part of the reason cheerleading was the focus is because the Florida High School Athletic Association includes cheerleading as a sport.

Ultimately, Superintendent Barbara Jenkins reminded everyone when it comes to coronavirus, safety and flexibility come first.

"I want to be very clear, there are no guarantees. If we see concerns with COVID-19 positive cases, we will have to certainly respond," said Jenkins.

Cheerleaders and marching bands will still be allowed to practice together after school. No decisions were made Tuesday in terms of how they may still be able to perform at games.