Days after Lutcher High athletic officials discovered at least one athlete had tested positive for COVID-19, players will be back working out as part of summer activities Wednesday as allowed by Centers for Disease Control and Louisiana High School Athletic Association guidelines with the state remaining in Phase Two while continuing to deal with the pandemic.
“We were able to track and trace and be able to find out those who met the threshold of being in close personal contact or spent greater than 15 minutes. We will move on with those who were not exposed,” said Dwain Jenkins, Lutcher’s athletic director and head football coach said.
The athletic officials discovered last Saturday a Bulldog athlete had tested positive. The school released a statement acknowledging the positive case while announcing athletic activities would be temporary suspended.
While facilities were further sanitized, the school announced the suspension of all athletic activities except for volleyball, softball, cross country, swimming, and girls powerlifting.
Those sports were exempted because none of those athletes had been in contact with any individuals who tested positive or were at the school’s athletic facilities during a similar timeline.
“Most of the girls’ sports and sports that didn’t meet on certain days last week just based on the days that the person that tested positive was on campus (were exempt),” said Jenkins. “By the days different groups meet, we were able to eliminate based on the day the positive text case was on campus.
“Anybody who wasn’t on campus on the same days had no more inherent risk than going to a grocery store or anywhere else that is a public place. They weren’t even on campus at the same time or in the same building or in the same facilities.”
Normal procedure at Lutcher since athletic activities were allowed to begin at the start of Phase Two included each athlete having a temperature check along with being asked several questions, including whether they had a fever, cough, sore throat, experienced shortness of breath and had been in close contact with anyone who had tested positive for COVID-19 before being allowed to work out.
“Our health screening and protocols we have in place is what is allowing us to continue to operate. If we wouldn’t have had the health screenings put in place where we were documenting who was in and out of the building and those types of things or have any other tracing protocols in place, we would have been shut down for two weeks,” said Jenkins.
Athletes have worked in small groups. Between usage by each group, athletic equipment is sanitized.
“We can limit how many people we have in our groups,” said Jenkins. “We can limit the amount of personal contact; we basically have tried to stay away from as much as possible. We still are not doing any true ‘football work,’ which would lead to people coming into contact.
“We really feel like our protocols are really sound and we have some good practices. We are looking now at some things that maybe when we resume on Wednesday we can be even better about as far as groups and exchanges and some of those things. I think from a cleaning standpoint and sanitization standpoint and health screen standpoint, we feel pretty good about all those things.”
Despite all the precautions, there are some things athletic officials can’t control, according to Jenkins.
“The tough part of this whole deal is we only have our kids for an hour-and-half to two-and-a-half hours a couple of days a week. There are days they are not with us and you have people that are doing all types of different activities in getting back to normal life, whether it’s going to church or weddings or going on vacation or playing other sports. There are things that are outside of our control,” Jenkins said.