With schools, universities and businesses shut down throughout the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the biggest questions that many people have is whether schools will be able to reopen in time for the 2020-21 academic year. Specifically for college football fans, one of the big questions is whether games will be able to be played this fall and whether fans will be able to attend those games.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was asked both of those questions on Tuesday, and as of now, he believes it's still far too soon to be making any decisions about what measures will need to remain in place for this fall. That said, he does expect at least some restrictions to remain in place until there is a vaccine for COVID-19.
“I think it's much too early to be making any decisions about fall,” DeWine said during his daily briefing at the Ohio Statehouse. “I don't think we know enough. I don't think we know where we're going to be. I don't think we know how many tests that we will have. But what I think we do know is that whether it's a business, whether it is a college, whether it is K-12, whenever they do open again, it's going to be different.
“This is the hardest thing for me to accept, and so I suspect it's hard for other people to accept, but until there is a vaccine, this monster as I've referred to it is going to be lurking around us. And so when we start businesses back up, when we start schools back up, when we start colleges back up, it's going to be different.”
DeWine said that schools and universities, as well as other businesses, need to take steps in order to keep their students, employees and/or customers safe when they do reopen, and that they need to planning to take those steps right now in hopes of reopening as soon as possible.
Asked specifically whether he expects there to be professional baseball games in Ohio this summer and Ohio State football games with full stands in Ohio Stadium this fall, though, DeWine said he simply doesn't know.
“I told our son Brian, who runs a minor league baseball team in Asheville, North Carolina, I said a month ago, ‘If we're playing ball in July, we'll be lucky,’” DeWine said. “But I don't know. I don't think anybody knows.
“I would say that as you look at any kind of coming back that large gatherings of people are gonna be the last thing that we check off the box and say, ‘OK, we should be doing that.’ And I think that it's not going to be what the states do only, it's going to be what fans think is same ... and so that is our challenge and the states' challenge is to do everything we can possible to make people feel safe.”
Ohio State president Michael Drake said last week that he expects the college football season to be impacted in some form or fashion, but did not rule out the possibility that games could be played without fans. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said last week, however, that he's unsure whether it's realistic to create an environment that's safe for players if it's not safe enough for fans to attend games.
“It seems inconsistent to me that we could say it’s unsafe for the fans to be in the stands but it’s safe for the players, to be in that gathering environment.” Smith said Friday. “I don’t know. I haven’t gone down that path, but I think you guys know me, I tend to lean to work with my colleagues in the Big Ten and work with my colleagues nationally. My focus, first and foremost right now, is if we’re going to do something, how do we make sure the players are safe first?”