PITTSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — We are about two weeks away from the first official practice and about a month from week one of the high school football season.

“It’s completely different from last year at this time. I was not optimistic that we were going to have a football season with COVID and the numbers that were rising,” said Cameron Vernon, Athletic Director at Northwood High School.

Vernon’s doubt has been replaced with optimism going into this year after getting through a full season while dealing with the pandemic.

Like many schools in the Triangle, Northwood put in place online ticketing for games, reduced attendance, enforced social distancing, along with other COVID protocols.

“We know the mitigation protocols and we’ve been following the procedure with our student-athletes and parents,” stated Vernon.

However, the COVID protocols are not just in place for football, but for other fall sports coming up like volleyball.

Right now, student-athletes at Northwood High must wear masks when they are inside and when a group is not six feet apart outside.

Vernon said they are still waiting for guidance from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

“I’m anticipating that we won’t have fans seated six feet. The masks? It might be different, but we might have some procedures in place,” he said.

He said one of the biggest changes is in participation.

“We do see the participation numbers coming back up. I think a lot of kids were hesitant to come back and even parents. We are seeing a change in those numbers,” Vernon explained.

Vernon also said the school will continue to do online ticketing. CBS 17 has also been in contact with Durham Public Schools and the district told us they are figuring out COVID protocols too.