SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta School District announce two additional cases of COVID-19 among the student population, despite the schools following an all remote learning schedule. This announcement, in a letter on Monday night from acting Superintendent Patrick McQueeney, brings the total number of students testing positive for coronavirus to five.
The letter said, “athletic teams and/or individuals that were impacted or are direct contacts of these cases are being contacted directly and will be provided guidance from the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association or NJSIAA and the New Jersey Department of Health regarding the need to quarantine and other precautionary measures.”
On Sunday night McQueeney announced the high school fall sports and marching band would be paused for two weeks, following the news that two football players and one player on the girls soccer team tested positive for COVID-19.
The suspended seasons mean most of the teams will be missing their first games, meets and matches. Sparta High School Athletic Director Steve Stoner said only football will not get to play the full schedule. The other sports will be able to reschedule their missed competitions.
“Football goes down as a no contest,” Stoner said. “The rest of the sports will be rescheduled. The nice thing about the way the league set up the schedule with only 12 games is that there is room to reschedule in case of weather or in our case, delay.”
The outbreak of COVID-19 among athletes comes despite following the NJSIAA protocols for attending practices. Stoner said the student athletes are required to complete a form every morning to, either on paper or through Google classrooms.
“Think of it as their ticket to practice,” Stoner said. The coaches collect the forms that ask a series of questions about symptoms, travel and potential exposure.
“If any questions are answered yes, the athlete is not permitted to practice,” Stoner said. The athletic department collects the forms daily, double checking and storing them. Coaches must also comply with NJSIAA protocol.
“Answers supplied by the student athletes are based on the honor system,” Stoner said.
In his letter to the community on Sunday night McQueeney said the district administrators had been getting reports of students attending "social gatherings" without consideration for coronavirus precautions. He suggested that could be where the students had been exposed to COVID-19.