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Homecoming parades, like this one in Red Bay from a past year, just weren't meant to be in 2020 thanks to COVID-19.

Homecoming parades fall victim to COVID-19

Homecoming is a favorite time of year for many during high school football season, but this year it will look different in Franklin County and Russellville City Schools because of COVID-19.

FCS Superintendent Greg Hamilton said homecomings are one of the many traditions COVID-19 has changed, but the system is working to keep things as close to normal as possible.

“All of the parades have been eliminated, but we are trying to keep as much as we can where we can social distance,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said with as much time as students spend in close proximity together working on floats, there was no way to monitor social distancing.

Red Bay and Phil Campbell’s homecoming games were this past week, Tharptown’s has already taken place and Vina’s is still to come, Oct. 9.

RCS will also not hold a homecoming parade this year after consulting with the Alabama Department of Public Health. The homecoming game is set for Oct. 16.

“While I know this is disappointing, this decision was made in an effort to continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our city and in our schools,” said RCS Superintendent Heath Grimes. “If we were to have an outbreak because of students being in close proximity building floats the week of homecoming, and then students, parents and community members being in close proximity at the actual parade, it could result in our schools having to shut down for multiple weeks.”

The homecoming pep rally will be different for RCS as well, being held at the football stadium for grades nine through 12.

Parents and community members will be allowed to attend the pep rally but must socially distance on the visitor side. Middle school and elementary school will not be attending the pep rally.

Hamilton said FCS pep rallies will also be held outside with social distancing required.

Hamilton said it is each principal’s call whether the school chooses to hold a bonfire as a pep rally, but social distancing will still be enforced.

“We are trying to do everything we can to keep the kids safe while also having sustained academics, athletics and extracurricular activities,” Hamilton said.

“In a year when so many things have been changed or altered,” add Grimes, “I hope our students, parents, faculty, staff and community know that the decisions made at RCS are always made with the students’ safety and best interests in mind.”