No new cases of COVID-19 have been reported on the Southside High School football team after a player tested positive the first week of practice. The district does not have plans to test players and coaches, but players and staff are screened before practice as is required by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and Arkansas Activities Association (AAA).
The Southside coaching staff was notified Friday (Aug. 8) that a member of the team tested positive for COVID, said Zena Featherston Marshall, executive director of communications and community partnerships for the school district. That team member had not been at practice for a couple of days because a family member had tested positive for the virus on Aug. 6, Marshall said.
That team member had not been at practice for a couple of days because a family member had tested positive for the virus on Aug. 6, Marshall said. During the first week of football practice at Southside High School, Southside athletic trainer Brad Duplantis sent a message to team members and/or their parents stating that a team member had tested positive for COVID-19.
The positive case did not result in any quarantine of players, coaches or delays or changes to the football practice schedule. Nor were any baseball practices at Northside High School or Southside suspended, said Michael Beaumont, FSPS director of athletics and student activities.
“Since the time the governor gave the ‘OK’ for practices to begin, coaches have had the freedom to schedule or cancel practices as they see fit. That is up to the coach. I am not made aware of changes,” Beaumont said.
He said no other players on the Southside team have reported a positive COVID test result, and “since official practice began, there are no positive player cases at Northside.”
Because the football-related case falls into a limited response category, alteration of on-site activity is not required, according to the Response Levels for On-Site Learning protocol, which provides a flow chart of actions based on the level of response required. The protocols require the district to compile a list of “Probable Close Contacts” with contact information and shares it with an ADH contact tracer upon request. The district also notifies probable close contacts self-quarantine immediately for 14 days from the last date of contact with the positive case, the manual states.
Marshall said team members were notified because they could be indirect contacts. The ADE manual says a secondary contact is “an individual who has had contact with someone identified as a close contact to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. These individuals do not require quarantine, but are encouraged to monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.”
Beaumont said ADH directives are being followed in locker rooms and on the field.
“Physical distancing of six feet must be maintained in the locker room. Face coverings should be used in locker rooms; it is acceptable to remove face coverings temporarily for washing or bathing,” Beaumont said of the regulations.
According to the ADH, “face coverings must be worn when not actively participating in an outdoor sports activity and there is not ample space to maintain physical distance of six feet between persons.”
Masks are not required once activity begins. Also, coaches and staff must wear face coverings at all times for both indoor and outdoor sports, except for a brief time when a coach or staff member has physically distanced at least 12 feet from athletes and other staff, Beaumont said.