WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Wichita North High School has to test every football coach and player for COVID-19 for eight straight days after a team member tested positive the school’s athletic director, Tony Douglas.
The reason for the blanket testing is because it is hard to tell without video proof who was and wasn’t in close contact with the player who tested positive during practice.
Douglas explained the protocol KSHSAA and NFHS have agreed upon for the year. “That policy with football, everybody is getting tested including your coaches because of the close contact. The lower risk sports, you can break them into practice groups.”
Wichita North, like many high schools across Kansas, is excited about the upcoming football season. But, they are also worried about what is around the corner with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hey, we’ve got to be careful and take the protocols seriously and mitigate as much as we can,” added Douglas. “Not live in fear with it, but also be respectful to the fact that it does exist.”
State officials expect last year’s protocols to help with the transition to this season.
“Because they had those procedures in place and in the plans ahead of time, you know they’re ready to go this year. That doesn’t mean we haven’t had some of those outbreaks within some of our high schools already,” said Mark Lentz, KSHSAA assistant executive director for football.
When it comes to schools reporting positive case numbers to the state high school athletic association and potential opponents, it’s based on a good-faith system.
“Hopefully, kids are telling their parents and their coaches, ‘Hey, I’m not feeling well.’ And you’re staying home,” explained Lentz. “The game of football is very important to communities absolutely, but the health and safety of the kids is much more important than the game.”
KSHSAA announced earlier this year that there wouldn’t be any rescheduling of games due to a COVID-19 outbreak and teams would be forced to forfeit.