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Parents petition schools to allow attendance at games

No fans are allowed at high school sporting in Collier County this year. Two moms want to change that. They started a petition to encourage Collier County Public Schools to allow fans at games.

Football moms Courtney Haas and Jessica Vanston have cheered on their sons RJ Williams and Wyatt Vanston on the field since they were 5-years-old.

But this year, Collier county Public Schools won’t allow spectators at athletic competitions.

“I said, oh my gosh, there’s no way,” Vanston said. “I haven’t gone all these years and to wait till he gets to the white lights to say, ‘Oh call me when you’re done.’ You know? Like I want to be there.”

“Like, that is heartbreaking because we’ve all worked together as a family for him to get to where he’s at now,” Haas said.

And it’s not just tough on parents.

“Just having them not be like able to cheer me on this year would be devastating,” Wyatt said.

“They haven’t missed a game,” Williams said. “And, if they did miss a game, like high school, it would just be sad.”

On the bleachers, marching band member Bryan Brownell say things will feel different.

“It sucks,” Brownwell said. “I mean like I would love to be able to play for huge crowds.”

So the moms started a petition demanding the school district allow two attendees per athlete.

Dad Eric Jarbo is one of over 5,000 who signed.

“It was something that was not only shocking but stunning,” Jarbo said. “It’s important to our family to get the opportunity to watch him play for the next couple of years because you know that could be it.”

“It’s going to feel like another practice, just different kids,” student-athlete Cal Jarbo said. “And no one’s gonna want to do that.”

Eric told us he will miss his son playing football and his daughter on the sidelines cheering on the team.

“Walking in as a freshman and knowing that one of my dreams were to cheer for these crowds, it’s pretty heartbreaking to hear that they can’t be there to watch me,” Gabby Jarbo said.

Per Florida Department of Health in Collier County, Collier County Public Schools sent out an update Tuesday and confirms Collier-DOH said, if Collier County’s rolling two-week average positivity rate for COVID-19 decreases to 5%, fans will be allowed to attend games, prioritizing parents.

We spoke to Haas about the new information, and she told us she still believes there is a way to get people to games now.

John Paul Janik, a high school football player in his junior year, says his parents are his number one fans. He says it won’t be the same feeling with out people cheering at his games, especially with out his parents.

“She says that’s my baby all the time,” Janik said. “Every game, I always look for them in the stands, and it’s different knowing that they are there. It’s kind of like something that drives you.”

While they’d rather have fans in the stands, the players are thankful for the opportunity to take to the field this fall.

“It’s a bummer my parents can’t be there to watch me play, but I’m just really excited that I get to play this year,” Max Weiner said.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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