SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Following the Jan. 2 beginning of winter sports practices and the anticipated return to hybrid instruction at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School on Jan. 19, principal Dr. David Heisey has issued guidance on the return of athletics, including rules for athletes, coaches, and spectators (none allowed).

Dr. Heisey wrote that "indoor sports are going to have modifications from established norms, as part of an ongoing effort to assist in reducing the risk of further spread of COVID-19." The letter states that student athletes are only permitted to remove their masks when active in their sport and that coaches are required to wear a mask at all times. 

Spectators are not permitted at indoor events, in accordance with Executive Order 196. The high school will instead live stream "as many contests as possible."

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If an athlete is in a quarantine, a negative test does not end the quarantine because COVID-19 has a latent period, Dr. Heisey wrote, adding that the Board of Health continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine for those with confirmed close contacts. 

The full text of the letter follows.

Dear SPF Community,

The traditional Athletic Seasons for High School Sports has been altered to create the safest possible environment for both the individuals and families of Student Athletes as well as the individuals and families of students attending school.  Indoor sports are going to have modifications from established norms, as part of an ongoing effort to assist in reducing the risk of further spread of COVID-19. 

First and foremost, student athletes attending a practice or contest must be in a mask as much as possible; including, but not limited to, entering and exiting the facility, during inactive coaching sessions, and when riding the bus.  Student athletes are only permitted to remove their masks when active in their sport.  While student athletes are permitted to remove masks during aerobic activity, they can elect to participate in a mask. Coaches are required to wear a mask at all times.  (The CDC and the NJSIAA are permitting gaiters if the gaiter is “doubled-up.”)

Additionally, Coaches will be establishing levels for teams (Freshmen, Junior Varsity, Varsity).  These levels will practice together as well as compete together.  We are taking this step to reduce contact within the teams.  Also, as per Governor’s Order 196, spectators are not permitted at indoor events.  Therefore, we are going to live stream as many contests as possible.  More information will be forthcoming for live streaming events. 

As a reminder, it is a very normal reaction in these times to hear about a positive case and want to get tested.  Some things to consider are that many doctors are recommending waiting up to five days after a confirmed close contact to be tested and that a negative test does not give full clearance as the COVID-19 Virus could be latent for up to 14 days.  If you are concerned about the health and welfare of your family please consult with your family doctor for next steps.  

Also, if you are in a quarantine, a negative test does not end the quarantine.  Again, COVID-19 does have a latent period.  The Board of Health continues to recommend a 14-Day quarantine for those with confirmed close contacts. 

Contact tracers from the Board of Health may reach out to your family.  Contact Tracers will speak with parents/guardians of minors and not the minor child.  You can be an outstanding partner in the process by responding in an efficient and honest manner to Contact Tracers.  Timely responses enable the Contact Tracers to complete their task which enables the Board of Health to make recommendations to the School Administration.  

In closing, we must be an active part of this solution to keep schools and the athletic season open. We can do this by maintaining the established safety guidelines: wearing a face covering, washing hands frequently, and staying socially distant and not participating in social gatherings.

Thank you for your partnership in keeping us all safe and helping school programs stay open.

David Heisey
Principal

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