SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta High School football program has been suspended for two weeks following news of a student athlete testing positive. While the student will not be identified, the district reports the player has had contact with team members.
The acting Superintendent Patrick McQueeney announced in a letter to the community, two students had tested positive for the coronavirus last week; one was an athlete and the other a student who had attended a “social gathering.”
The teams and other people who had direct contact with this student are being contacted. They will be guided by their local health department and personal.
The district is following protocols established by the NJSIAA. The protocol for “one student or coach on the same team that test positive need to quarantine for 14 days. Further “any student or coach in close contact with the infected person two days prior to symptoms or positive test must also quarantine for 14 days and monitor their symptoms.”
The NJSIAA protocol for this scenario allows for the team to play, however the whole Spartan team has been practicing together, so they will all have to quarantine.
Sparta will miss a scrimmage schedule for Thursday, September 24 against Newton and their season opening game on the road against Lakeland Regional High School scheduled for October 2.
If there are no additional positive tests for coaches or players the team will be able to play their home opener on Cassels Field against Jefferson. The Friday night game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The news of positives cases came from acting Superintendent Patrick McQueeney in three letters. The first letter came on Friday and the second followed on Saturday and one on Sunday. All of the letters said the students that tested positive had been learning remotely and the lack of contact inside schools meant the Sussex County Division of Health did not require the school district to send any notification.
“In our efforts to ensure the health and safety of our Spartan Learning Community, we felt it was important to share this information with you,” McQueeney said.
The second letter also mentioned a staff member was quarantined because of exposure to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, though the staff member has had a negative test result.
The letter said the two students who have tested positive were not related.
The third letter provided additional information about the students, to allow the community to have a better understanding of the circumstances of the positive tests.
NJSIAA guidelines for fall high school sports, announced on August 20, allowed practices to begin on Monday, September 14 thought heat acclimatization for field hockey and football was allowed to begin on Friday, September 11. Summer workouts were held beginning July 13 with a prescribed two-week break from August 29 through September 13.
Teams were allowed to schedule one preseason scrimmage within seven day of the start of the season, except for football which was allowed to begin scrimmaging on September 24
In his letter on Sunday morning, McQueeney suggested the community could contact Sparta High School nurse Devon Esposito at 973-729-6191.