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Questions Surround High School Sports Capacity Restrictions After Court Ruling

A federal court ruling deeming Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 restrictions on the capacity of public gatherings to be unconstitutional has sparked more questions than answers for local high school athletic programs.

U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV on Monday said in his opinion Pennsylvania’s order to limit the size of public gatherings and the mandated closure of non-essential businesses is unconstitutional. This ruling could nullify Gov. Wolf’s restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The lifting of these regulations would potentially open the door for local high schools to permit fans to attend sporting events, as the 250 person limit on outdoor gatherings and the 25 person limit on indoor gatherings would no longer be in place.

As of September 15, Karns City and St. Marys have both made changes to their attendance requirements. According to Karns City athletic director Josh Williams, all capacity restrictions will be lifted for all high school sports events at Karns City effective immediately. Social distancing and other CDC guidelines will remain in place. Meanwhile, St. Marys will be increasing the capacity of both indoor and outdoor athletic facilities to 50% of their total capacity, according to St. Marys Daily Press. Social distancing measures will remain in place at St. Marys. reached out to all local high schools to ask if any of their policies had changed as a result of the ruling. As of September 15, Clarion, Clarion-Limestone, North Clarion, Punxsutawney, and Redbank Valley stated that their policies have not changed. Keystone and Union have also not made any changes, but both schools mentioned that they are in contact with their legal teams about how to proceed. The other local schools have yet to respond to the inquiry.

Gov. Wolf plans to seek a stay of the decision and appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, according to a published article on

If Gov. Wolf is granted a stay, gathering restrictions could be put back into place until the U.S. Court of Appeals reaches a decision.