Updated to correct season opener date and opponent, 8/21/20, 12:21 p.m.
Newnan High School’s varsity football team is under a precautionary quarantine after players were exposed to COVID-19 last week.
A total of 110 players are prohibited from practicing after a single teammate tested positive for the illness. The decision follows guidelines issued by the Georgia Department of Public Health.
“As much as we hate having to quarantine students or staff members, the processes we have put into place worked the way they were supposed to,” said Newnan High Principal Chase Puckett.
Puckett said when school officials were notified on Aug. 15 that a student had tested positive, they implemented contact tracing procedures and made the decision to quarantine all potentially exposed athletes and employees. He praised the efforts of those involved.
“I can't express enough how proud I am of our staff members and our students who are working with us to get this right,” Puckett said. “Our athletic trainers, head football coach Chip Walker, our coaching staff and school system staff worked together quickly and efficiently.
The quarantined athletes likely will be cleared to return to their regular routines after Aug. 28, according to Puckett. The Cougars are scheduled to open their season Sept. 5 against Whitewater.
Since June, high schools throughout the state have been permitting some conditioning and training for fall sports – including band – per Georgia High School Association guidelines. Sessions have been voluntary for athletes and have been conducted with additional safety protocols in place to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, according to Dean Jackson, the Coweta County School System’s public information officer.
That includes limited numbers and group sizes, daily health checks of every participant before practice, social distancing where possible and enhanced sanitation. Contact reporting, quarantine and isolation of reported cases – all part of the DPH’s guidelines for preventing or slowing the spread of infection once exposure is confirmed – have been implemented at Coweta County Schools.
As of Wednesday, the school system reported that 140 high school students – including the 110 Newnan High football players – were excluded from practices because of COVID-19 concerns. That does not necessarily mean 140 athletes are currently infected, or that numbers are going up.
“(Those numbers) include reported positive COVID-19 tests, reported exposure to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, and reported symptoms related to COVID-19,” Jackson said. “This is a higher number than earlier this summer, particularly because of this instance (at Newnan High). These numbers have generally gone up and down throughout the summer and have affected various programs at all three high schools at some point.”
(For more on this story, see the weekend print edition of The Newnan Times-Herald.)