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'It's The Camaraderie Of A Community:' The Friday Night Lights Of High School Football Set To Return

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - In a continuing effort to get life back to normal, "Friday Night Lights" returns to the high school football field tonight.

COVID made a mess of last year's season and WPIAL is hoping to restore the tradition to what we all have come to cherish.

"When you drive past the stadium, you see the lights you hear the bands you hear the cheering and it's just something that just signifies the start of fall and just the communities join together," says WPIAL Executive Director Amy Scheuneman.

Last year, due to the pandemic, the stands were mostly empty.

"We are very excited to you know have the parents, the student bodies the band's back in the stands to make that experience, just that much better for Friday night lights," Scheuneman says.

WATCH: Keeping Families And Friends Safe Under The Lights

That is not to say COVID restrictions are a thing of the past.

"Whenever you go in and out of facilities, on buses, they're still masking," she explains. "Obviously there's masking in schools, in close proximity with each other."

In the stands of most high schools, there is not a lot of social distancing space.

Amy Scheuneman says masking rules for fans, "will be up to each individual school. So if fans are going out to those games make sure that they check to know what to expect when they enter."

But she adds while the WPIAL does not have a masking policy for fans in the stands, "Obviously we want to keep as many people safe as possible for as long as possible. So for that timeframe, it would be a smart idea to do that."

Allegheny Health Network infectious disease specialist Dr. Nathan Shively agrees.

"It's outside if they're spread out, it's a reasonably low-risk situation especially if people are vaccinated," he says. "But if you're getting tighter together that risk goes up, and mask even outside if you're going to be close together is going to be a way that people can limit that risk."

Scheuneman says if a team has a case of covid they must connect with the health department.

"Do their contact tracing to see how many, and that would then determine if they needed to postpone or cancel games or shut their team down for an extended period of time," she says.

She's hopeful that will be the exception and the excitement of Friday night lights will have few interruptions because after all, "It's the camaraderie of a community. You're coming together to cheer on you know those student-athletes that maybe your next-door neighbors or, you know, your nephews, your cousins, your sisters, your brothers, your friends."

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