Elizabethtown High School athletics is addressing three cases of student-athletes testing positive for COVID-19, including a football player.
EHS Athletic Director Glenn Spalding said Monday afternoon the three athletes contracted the virus outside the setting of the school athletic facilities.
“A kid came to us and informed us that a parent had tested positive for COVID-19 and at that point we recommended that he get tested, and he did, and he tested positive,” Spalding said. “At that point we go through the health department, CDC, KDE and the governor’s back-to-work protocol. Once a positive test has been confirmed, the athlete is notified that he must quarantine for 14 days and at that point we start asking what student-athletes he has been in contact with.
“There has been another student pulled from the group. That student has been tested and we are waiting for the results.”
An anonymous letter was sent Sunday morning to The News-Enterprise concerned that there had been no public notification about the positive tests.
The email was labeled: Increasing Positive Covid-19 Cases for EHS Athletes
We have gotten personal phone calls from EHS football coaches informing us that at least one player who has tested positive for Covid-19 and another player, who has regular contact with the positive player in his home, have been pulled from groups who are practicing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But... according to the one coach, the other players in the groups are NOT being made to self-quarantine for 2 weeks to observe for possible symptoms. Also, there is one Etown City School Board member who has confirmed to a family member that there are indeed even MORE EHS athletes (other than football) who have tested positive for Covid-19. Yet... there have been no public announcements to make parents and students aware.
The Panthers are under first-year coach Ross Brown, who deferred all questions on COVID-19 to Spalding.
“We have two other students, who have not been on campus since July 6, test positive,” Spalding said. “One student was not even in town when he tested positive.
“We have a record of every student who has been on campus and what time they reported to campus. The health department (the Lincoln Trail District Health Department) has stated to us that they feel we have gone above and beyond.”
The football players are grouped into Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday groups. There are three pods within each
“We contacted the parents within those pods,” Spalding said. “If a kid is in Pod A, we call all the parents in Pod A. Let’s say my child is in that pod; the parents make the decision whether they want their child to get tested or if they want the child to come to practice or stay away from practice. Many parents have been pleased and thankful that, first of all, we are calling them and giving them options based on the information that we have.
“The reason why there has been no public statement is we feel like we have addressed the parents that we need to address. If we make a public announcement every time something happens ... This doesn’t affect the players or parents in the other pods or in the Monday/Wednesday groups. We feel we have done what we needed to do in good faith with those parents whose child has tested positive and those parents whose kids are in the pod. We feel like what we did is the best way moving forward so we are transparent.”
One factor in positive tests is commonalities.
“The health department talks about, what is the common denominator,” Spalding said. “Are the positive tests just from football, or just from another sport, or is there something else that makes them common. If there were, then we might have a football issue or an athletic issue. There is not a common denominator of athletics in this case.”
The Centers for Disease Control said contact tracing will be conducted for close contacts — any individual within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes — of laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.
“If you rode in a vehicle for five minutes from one house to another or from one house to practice, the health department does not consider that exposure,” Spalding said.
“The athletes who tested positive can only return with a note from their primary care physician that they tested negative for COVID-19.”
In the meantime, protocols remain in place.
“Every protocol we set out at the start when we started back is still in place,” Spalding said. “Everyone must wear a mask. Everybody who enters the athletic field, whether it’s football or soccer, must do so from the admission gate. If it’s football, they enter, fill out the questionnaire and get their temperature taken. They are asked what group they are in and they go to where they report. We do not come together in the middle of the field, break down and go to their spots.
“They are constantly reminded to social distance during breaks. When they have water breaks, the kids do not touch the huge water jug we have. The coach in their pod fills the water up.”
Spalding was asked about the assertion that a school board member confirmed to a family member about more positive tests.
“In an anonymous letter, everything that is said may or may not be true,” he said.