Friday, just one day after the Kentucky High School Athletic Association recommended that fall sports proceed as planned, it was announced that a football player at Whitley County High School had tested positive for COVID-19.
“In an effort to keep our school family and community informed, we want to share that the Whitley County Health Department has advised us that we have a student-athlete from our high school football team who has tested positive for COVID-19. The health department is in the process of conducting contact tracing,” the school district wrote in a statement on its website Friday afternoon.
“If you are a parent/guardian of a high school football player and the health department feels that you need to be concerned about your child, they will contact you during contact tracing. Our custodial staff is disinfecting all areas used by our football team for practice.”
When contacted by text message Friday afternoon, Whitley County Superintendent John Siler responded, “We are working with the health department to assist them in contact tracing efforts.”
After three days of no new information being released regarding the incident, Whitley County Public Health Director Marcy Rein said Tuesday that the situation did not warrant a public health notice. “In this case, we determined that no public notice was needed, because we were able to work with staff to determine who was present, and the nature of potential contacts,” she explained.
“A similar situation where a public notice might have been issued would be a game with spectators, and we don’t know who had attended. The public notice is essentially a tool to use when we believe there may be people out there that were exposed, but we cannot identify or reach them.”
As of Tuesday morning, the Whitley County football team was continuing with their practices as normal. “We are proceeding normally while still following social distancing guidelines and the wearing of masks,” said WCHS Athletic Director Bryan Stewart.
Superintendent John Siler said that a handful of other players who were deemed to be at-risk are currently in isolation as a precautionary measure, but that no one else had tested positive for COVID-19 as of early Tuesday.
Siler urged the community, as a whole, to continue adhering to the safety guidelines that have been set forth by the Governor’s office and the CDC. “We ask that everyone in the community wear a mask, socially distance, and wash your hands,” he said. “We want to get back to normalcy. We want our kids to be able to get back to competing in sports. But in order for that to happen, it’s going to take all of us working together and doing the things that we’re supposed to do.”
Siler also commented that Colonel athletes have been participating in conditioning sessions since mid-June, with athletes being separated into groups of no more than ten and working out in a “structured environment” that includes constant supervision by coaches. “We have worked closely with the health department on this plan,” he explained. “Hopefully that plan will work, and this will be our only case.”
The 2020 high school sports season is scheduled to get underway on Mon., Sept. 7 with the first week of football competition kicking off on Fri., Sept. 11.