Chanute High School football endured more than just a 34-10 loss to Pittsburg High School Friday night at the Chanute Community Sports Complex.
A day after the game, it was determined that another football player had tested positive for COVID-19. CHS Interim Principal and Assistant Superintendent Matt Koester said this student-athlete will quarantine for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, while those who were in contact with him will be quarantined for 14 days from the time of potential contact.
Based on reviews of the game tape, Koester said this player potentially exposed more people in the Blue Comet locker room than he did on the field, as players and coaches during play did not have close enough contact with him for an extended period of time. Koester said the player began to have symptoms over the weekend.
As a result, four more players on the football team will be quarantined for the game this Friday due to potential exposure and eight students total at CHS are quarantining because of the case. This is the next necessary step after the Neosho County Health Department and Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center completed their contact tracing investigation on Monday morning. One player will be returning this Friday after quarantining from previous potential exposure.
"We turned the investigation over to them to determine whether or not kids needed to be quarantined due to the closeness of people, and so they came back with those people based on either their time at the football game or their time outside," Koester said.
Although it is possible this student-athlete may have been infected with the virus during the football game, Koester said time outside of the game is more likely the period of contracting the virus. The school district, the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend interviewing people who have been in close contact with someone infected with the virus (within 6 feet for 10 minutes), beginning 48 hours before the person begins experiencing symptoms, or two days before receiving the test for those without symptoms.
In total, there will be nine football players not playing this week due to the potential exposure to COVID-19, as some of these players are still quarantining from last week's positive case. Seventeen football players overall, whether due to COVID-19 or injuries, will not be in the game.
Additionally, there are around four student-athletes in other sports who are impacted by COVID-19. Koester said it is unknown as to what student-athletes in their respective sports are quarantining.
Still, as of right now, there is only one more new positive case from the football team. At the game last Friday, most of the away crowd from Pittsburg was wearing facemasks, while Chanute fans continued to take the district, local and state guidelines very seriously.
USD 413 Superintendent Dr. Kellen Adams commended the district’s staff for fighting this battle.
"First, I want to say thank you to (CHS Athletic Director) Zack Murry and (Royster Middle School AD) Chris Shields. They've both done an amazing job and I mean that,” Adams said. “I charged them with nearly an impossible task, which was regulating crowds at varsity football (and all sports), so I realize that what I asked them to do is next to impossible and they took it and ran with it; I'm so thankful for the both of them.
"I think Mr. Murry has done a great job specifically in reference to the Friday night football games, making expectations clear, and doing a great job of being upfront about it, communicating very well. We received positive feedback on Thursday, which was Royster's volleyball game, and then we received positive feedback twice now on Friday night football games."
To continue sports, however, Adams said he implores everyone to continue wearing their masks and to follow the guidelines set by the district, KSHSAA and KDHE.
"Our numbers overall, when you start breaking them down into sports-specific or student-specific areas, they can start to look bad, and I think it's important to keep them to the reality that I think we currently have 33 kids that are in quarantine or out of school due to COVID in the whole district, and that's out of approximately 1,800 students," Koester said. "And just to reiterate to our community, the spread can occur anywhere. Just because we are reporting school kids doesn't necessarily mean it's occurring in school or that it's occurring at football games. There's more cases out in the public than what we have in the school."
The Blue Comets (1-1) will play Friday, 7 pm at the Chanute Community Sports Complex versus Meriden Jefferson West (0-2).