COVID-19 outbreak within Freedom sports team

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Alexa Davis

Three players from the girls’ soccer and volleyball teams tested positive for COVID-19.

Alexa Davis, Asst. Features/Copy Editor

A call from Dr. Jeffery Fuller, Freedom Area School District’s Superintendent, went out to members of the district on Sept. 29. The news was regarding positive COVID-19 cases on the high school girls’ volleyball and soccer teams. 

According to the high school’s website, there were a few positive cases on the teams. These students and their families were asked to self-quarantine. The informative response letter from Fuller said, “Additionally, we have canceled all activities for both the girl’s volleyball and soccer teams through Monday, Oct. 5 to stem the spread of the virus.” The letter urged students to be cautious while around other people and take proper safety measures, such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing. 

We have three known cases. All were reported to us by the students’ families, then confirmed through the PA Department of Health,” high school principal William Deal said.

Deal went on to explain the procedure when there is a possible case. 

“The student who is suspected or confirmed positive is asked to quarantine for 10 days per CDC guidelines. The Department of Health contacts us and consults with us to determine the extent of contact that the positive person has had with other students. A decision is then made whether or not to suspend a program based on the number of positive cases and the degree of contact the positive person has had with others,” Deal stated.

“The District supports the Department of Health in contact tracing and if it is determined that there is a need to briefly suspend the activities of a particular team, we will take that action. It is never good to have to stop a student from participating in an activity or to stop an activity all-together. However, it is our responsibility to look out for the safety and well-being of all of our students, so we will take the steps that are necessary to do that,” Fuller added. 

This year’s circumstances have been a struggle for staff and administration. They have to make sure everyone is staying safe and following the correct guidelines, while also dealing with community members who are adamant about continuing sports, in spite of the virus. The district had many challenges this year, including the risk of outbreaks with sports going on versus the outrage of people if sports do not continue.

“These last eight months have been extremely difficult to navigate from all aspects. The decisions that we have had to make were all made from the perspective of doing what was necessary to protect our students, staff and community. Sometimes the impact of those decisions is not popular and has a significant impact on our students and families. Overall, though, the parents, students and community have been extremely supportive. We appreciate the support that we have received from our community,” Fuller said. 

These cases of COVID-19 have struck up many questions from people all around the district such as: have these positive tests affected the return back to school? Deal said no. There has been no current change in the plan of returning back to the high school on Monday, Nov. 9. 

“Dr. Fuller consults daily with other Superintendents and health officials. I am confident that once it is safe to return, he and the board will have students back in the buildings,” Athletic Director John Rosa added.

To avoid getting COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says people should socially distance, wear masks, disinfect surfaces and wash their hands. 

“We keep encouraging students to wear masks, social distance, and avoid large gatherings when possible,” Rosa stated. 

We are hopeful that students and their families will continue to follow social distancing guidelines while outside of the school. However, with cold and flu season around the corner, we will likely see more confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19,” Deal said.

When Freedom students return to in-person learning, they will have to cooperate with different restrictions and safety measures. It could be a challenge to monitor the well-being of students while it is flu season. With COVID-19 also going around, the district will have to take extra precautions to make sure no one is exposed to the virus or the flu.

Although these have been hard times, many students are looking forward to the return to school. Freedom is prepared for many different circumstances, including COVID-19 outbreaks on the sports teams.

We all need to be patient and understand that this is a difficult time for everyone and together, we will get through it,” Rosa stated.