The Montesano High School football program’s season is off to a rocky start after a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
In a letter sent to parents and guardians dated Thursday, Montesano School District Superintendent Dan Winter stated that Grays Harbor Public Health “has expressed a potential COVID-19 outbreak within your child’s football team.”
The Washington State Department of Health defines an “outbreak” as two or more students or staff members who have tested positive for COVID and are linked through a shared location, such as a locker room.
No further details on how many players and staff tested positive, nor was information provided regarding the date of the positive tests and when the school district first learned of the potential outbreak. Due to HIPAA laws, the school is limited on what details it can share publicly.
In response to the positive tests, school administrators canceled Friday’s scheduled Football Jamboree at Rottle Field and “will be pausing football practice and events for up to 14 days to allow time for GHPH to properly perform contact tracing,” the letter states.
Winter’s letter goes on to state, “Athletes and coaches will be asked to verify vaccination status to determine a pathway for close contacts,” and that the GHPH is asking unvaccinated close contacts to quarantine.
The letter also states vaccinated close contacts will be asked to test and no quarantine will be needed with a negative test result.
The situation puts Montesano’s season-opening game at North Kitsap on Friday, Sept. 3, in jeopardy.
“We are canceling the jamboree for (Friday evening) because the Grays Harbor Health Department has confirmed a potential COVID-19 outbreak within our football program. We are pausing all football activities to allow time to complete contact tracing,” Montesano Athletic Director Tim Trimble stated in an email to The Daily World.
The school has not yet canceled the season opener or the home opener against Cascade Christian the following week, but multiple sources within the Montesano football community have stated the players are scheduled to be tested for COVID on Monday morning.
Those sources also stated that if there are no positive tests, practice will resume on Monday morning with plans to play North Kitsap on Friday, Sept. 3.
However, the season-opener could still be canceled if North Kitsap finds another opponent in the meantime.
“I can confirm we are on hold or pause,” Trimble said. “If North Kitsap doesn’t find another game between now and Monday, we may still be on.”
Trimble directed any COVID-related questions to the district office. Calls to Winter’s office had yet to be returned as of Friday afternoon.