With the football team’s season already in jeopardy, they suffered another setback. On Friday September 25, an assistant coach for Woodland’s football team received test results showing that he had contracted the COVID-19 virus. Before the results came, he coached the team through conditioning practices and weight room training. Through contact tracing, the school’s administration found that twenty-six students were exposed to the coach.
“Mr. Decker, the athletic director, did the contact tracing. In other words, whoever was in close proximity with the person who tested positive for more than fifteen minutes,” Principal Kurt Ogren explained. “We figured out it ended up being a total of twenty-six student-athletes, who are all members of the football team. So Mr. Decker called all the families between Friday night and Saturday.”
In the meantime, administrators worked with the health districts, Chesprocott Health District for Prospect and Naugatuck Valley Health District for Beacon Falls, in order to follow protocols and ensure that everyone was safe and healthy.
“The student athletes were mandated to have a COVID test and they have to quarantine at home for fourteen days,” Ogren said. “It’s fourteen days from their last day of contact with the coach, so if they were with the coach on Thursday, the clock really ends for them fourteen days from there.”
Over the weekend, athletes and coaches received tests and began their quarantines at home.
“Their test results are starting to come back and they’re all negative, which is what we’re hopeful for. Regardless, they still quarantine for fourteen days because that’s a protocol. Some people thought that if you get a negative test you could come back the next day, but that’s not how it works,” Ogren confirmed. “They’ll keep up with their school work and come back to school.”
While conditioning and training at practices prior to the outbreak, athletes followed safety protocols and practiced social distancing, which kept everyone safe and protected from the spread of germs and bacteria.
“The CIAC and the CDC guidelines were being followed,” Athletic Director Christopher Decker said. “Everyone inside the gym wore masks during their time in close contact and the coaches wore their masks at all times.”
Along with wearing masks and social distancing, thorough cleaning of the weight room and sports hallways were conducted after each practice session.
“Our head-custodian, Ray Fortier, did a top-to-bottom cleaning of the areas that we know the coach was. He walked in the building, walked through the sports hallway, and went into the weight room. There’s so many things in the weight room that people touched, so it was a lot to clean in the weight-room,” Ogren explained. “But then he also cleaned the locker room, the coach’s room, and the trainer’s room. Even if he wasn’t there, that’s an area where some of the other people who might’ve been exposed potentially were. So he spent several hours Saturday morning doing a top-to-bottom cleaning.”
All areas that the COVID-positive coach visited were thoroughly cleaned to ensure that all Woodland students and faculty stay safe and healthy.
“Zero Woodland faculty members, zero full-time staff members, and zero students have tested positive for COVID. There might be a day where that happens, it’s bound to happen, but it hasn’t happened yet,” Ogren said. “We’re going to continue to follow our COVID safety protocols. We’re going to continue to track any students that are exposed and work closely with the health districts.”
The health and safety of all staff, students and faculty in Woodland continues to be number one priority, according to Ogren. “We want to make sure that everybody not only is safe, but that they stay comfortable.”