In recent weeks there has been debate surrounding how to manage performances and attendance at Friday night high school football games in the Orange County Public School (OCPS) system, which includes Winter Park High School. As a precautionary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, the district had previously decided to prohibit performances such as those by cheerleaders, band, dancers, and color guard. After receiving pushback, the district announced it would be lifting the restriction on said performances for upcoming home games.
Students and parents from multiple schools within the district complained that it was unfair to prohibit other students from performing while allowing the football team to play. In response to this feedback, as well as a rally held at Lake Eola in opposition of the decision earlier this month, OCPS Superintendent Barbara Jenkins opted to allow the performances at home games, explaining the district was comfortable doing so after reviewing the current data on COVID-19. Jenkins announced this change to OCPS staff in an email distributed last Friday according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Winter Park High School’s athletic director, Andy Chiles, confirmed that band, cheerleading, and dance performances will take place at upcoming home games, the first of which falls on Friday, September 25. Each participating student will receive two tickets to distribute to attendees of their choice. The stadium stands will be filled to no more than 25% capacity, which is the current limitation.
“I am excited for the student athletes just as I am excited for the other groups who are starting to have a chance to come out [to the games],” Chiles said. “Hopefully, as we keep being cautious and safe as we continue to open up, we can continue to do more and more things.”