Team quarantined after Dobson High scrimmage The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Team quarantined after Dobson High scrimmage

Team quarantined after Dobson High scrimmage

By Zach Alvira
Tribune Sports Editor

The Chaparral High School varsity football team was quarantined and forced to sit out its first two games after a team member tested positive for COVID-19.

The unidentified player was last at practice on Friday, Sept. 25, one day after the team scrimmages Dobson High School. A message to Dobson administration requesting comment was not returned.

Meanwhile, the Arete Prep football team returned to the practice field Oct. 1 for the first time since a positive case of COVID-19 forced the whole program into isolation.

The Gilbert team’s coach, Cord Smith, said the positive case among one of his players was discovered two weeks ago.

Because the Chargers only have 20 total players, Smith and school administrators determined that the likelihood of potential spread was high.

As a result, all 20 players and coaches were told to isolate for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms. Smith said nobody else in the program tested positive.

“We had one positive and because it was our first day of tackling two days before, everybody had made physical contact,” Smith said. “Administration determined with county health that everybody had physical contact. Nobody else tested positive or had any symptoms.”

Smith said Arete Prep’s administration, in conjunction with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, made the decision to quarantine the entire team out of precaution.

According to guidelines set forth by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, teams with less than 25 players do not have to suspend activities unless there are two or more positive cases. For teams with more than 25 players, three cases warrant a suspension.

“Our admin went with our network policy and the Maricopa County Policy,” Smith said. “It’s a little more stringent than the AIA’s policy just out of an abundance of caution.”

The entire team in quarantine resulted in Arete cancelling its scrimmage and season opener against Heritage Academy Laveen, which was supposed to take place last Thursday.

Now, the former 1A 8-man team will have a week to prepare for what was supposed to be its Week 2 matchup against Glendale Prep.

Smith said it’s enough time but this has opened his eyes to just how volatile the situation could be for programs if positive cases are found.

“Someone had a good idea to film practice and keep them separated as much as possible,” Smith said. “If you stay in smaller groups and someone does test positive, you can look at film and see who may have had direct contact with that specific player.

“In our situation, being a small 2A school, it unfortunately didn’t work out like that.”

On Sept. 30, Scottsdale Unified School District announced the Chaparral player had enough close contact with the varsity and junior varsity teams to place both in isolation for two weeks out of precaution.

The decision led to the cancellation of Chaparral’s season opener last Friday against rival Saguaro, a highly anticipated matchup with potential Open Division playoff implications.

Chaparral’s Week 2 matchup against Sandra Day O’Connor was also canceled. At this point, it’s unclear if Chaparral will be able to return to the practice field in time to face Hamilton in Week 3.

“We feel so badly for the affected students that they will not be able to partake in their regular activities during this isolation period,” said district Superintendent Dr. Scott A. Menzel.

“However, this does serve as a sharp reminder that in order to keep our schools and extracurricular activities open, we must have the strong cooperation from all families, students and staff to monitor their health, recognize and report symptoms, and stay at home when sick or when a family member is sick.”

The decision to quarantine both Chaparral football teams was met with displeasure from Chaparral Firebird Football Foundation President Aaron Minor, whose son, Max, is a senior captain on the varsity team.

In a letter sent to SUSD leadership Wednesday night citing AIA guidelines, Minor questioned the decision to isolate both teams after only one case.

While it remains unclear the level of exposure between Chaparral’s positive case and the rest of the team, Minor requested answers.

“Why has SUSD made the determination to not follow their own posted guidelines and suspend football operations?” Minor asked. “This decision is reckless, harmful, and inconsistent with publications and practices by multiple school districts in the Phoenix Metro area, most importantly SUSD.

“I am demanding an answer and transparency on this matter, so I can communicate your response to the Chaparral Firebird Football Foundation membership and all the student athletes.” 

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