Blue Springs district denied in court on stadium limit challenge

By Mike Genet

A Jackson County judge Friday denied the Blue Springs School District’s request for a temporary restraining order to block the county’s 100-person outdoor gathering limit. 

As such, a few hundred fans who might have planned to attend football games Friday at Blue Springs or Blue Springs South high schools will not be able to do so. The limit applies for fans but not contest participants. 

A district spokesperson said about 100 passes will be issued at the respective gates based on entry lists. There will be no visiting team fans.

The school district sued the Jackson County Health Department this week over its county’s attendance limitations amid the pandemic, saying the 100-person limit for public outdoor gatherings is arbitrary and unreasonable. Judge Cory Atkins denied the district’s request.

In the suit, filed Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court, the district asked a judge to grant a temporary restraining order, given that Blue Springs High School and Blue Springs South High School both have home football games this week. The district also asked a judge to bar the Health Department from imposing sanctions and issue a ruling on the legality of the department’s attendance guideline.

It is unknown if the case will now continue in court. A future hearing has not been scheduled.

In late August, the Blue Springs district announced an attendance policy under which each player, cheerleader and dance team member participating in the activity would receive four tickets for home football games, and each visiting team participant would receive two tickets.  

With that policy, about 430 hundred fans attended the Blue Springs game Aug. 28 against Liberty, far shy of the stadium’s 5,000-person capacity, the district said in the suit. The day before the game, the Health Department had emailed Blue Springs Superintendent Paul Kinder to say the ticket policy violated the gathering limits that had been in place for a couple months. 

On Sept. 1, the department sent a notice of noncompliance to the district and threatened sanctions that included revoking the district’s concession stand health permits, requiring athletes from non-compliant events to quarantine for two weeks and possibly banning spectators from district athletic events for the remainder of the season.

In a Zoom conference Sept. 3, the Kinder and district officials said they had complied with regulations by limiting capacity to 25 percent, requiring face masks for all fans, requiring social distance between non-household guests, and providing hand sanitizer. County officials maintained their 100-person limit.