SPARTA, NJ – All sports and the marching band have been put on hold for 14 days at Sparta High School.  The Sparta School District has been notified of two football players and member of the girls soccer team that  have tested positive for COVID-19.

Effective immediately and out of an abundance of caution,” the letter from acting Superintendent Patrick McQueeney said.  Students will be off the fields and courts and fans out of the stands until October 5.

“The Sparta Board of Education fully supports Mr. McQueeney’s decision to suspend all sports and activities for 14 days,” Board of education president Kim Bragg said.  “Safety must come first.”

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McQueeney’s letter references reports that student parties could be the nexus of the coronavirus cases.  The letter encourages the community to “always wear your mask in the presence of others and maintain appropriate social distancing.”

This is an update from earlier in the day when it was announced the football program would be halted for two weeks on the news of two student athletes with positive COVID-19 tests.

In order to be allowed to return to practice student athletes on the football and girls soccer teams will “have to show a doctor’s note clearing them to return,” per the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association or NJSIAA guidelines, according to McQueeney. If a player from any other team or the marching band tests positive for coronavirus, the members of that team will also need a doctor’s note to return to practice.

Student athletes from sports teams or activities that did not have a student report a positive COVID-19 test will not need a note to return after the two weeks.

McQueeney said student athletes have not been in the building so no additional cleaning protocols will need to be implemented. They have not even been inside to use the bathrooms, using the portable toilets at the turf field instead.  

The equipment will be sanitized as it was when there were daily practices, he said.

The department of health will be conducting contact tracing and will only be sharing reports of students and staff with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the district administrators, McQueeney said. The school district does not do COVID-19 testing.  Health discussions are left to the families and their physicians and the department of health.

“Our intent is to take this action as a proactive measure to protect the health and safety of our student athletes and our coaches,” McQueeney said. “We are hoping to avoid a potential scenario that could result in a future cancellation of the fall season.”

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