Three Southlake Carroll athletes test positive for COVID-19, but workouts continue — even as many in Texas suspend activities

Dallas News

Three Southlake Carroll male athletes tested positive for COVID-19 after taking part in the school’s Performance Course program and in summer strength and conditioning/sport-specific workouts at the school, Carroll ISD said Monday. The district said that it doesn’t believe any of the athletes contracted the virus at the school.

Carroll has continued workouts, even as a growing number of Texas schools have put workouts on hold.

As of Monday night, The Dallas Morning News had found at least 192 schools statewide that have temporarily suspended summer workouts since the UIL allowed those to begin June 8. Positive tests resulted in some of those shutdowns, but many schools and school districts paused workouts because of concerns about the coronavirus in their area, or because numbers continue to spike in Texas.

Sunday was the sixth consecutive day that more than 5,300 new COVID-19 cases were reported statewide. Dallas County reported 572 new cases Monday, the fourth straight day that the county saw a single-day high.

“We had an inspection of our facilities by the health department. The indoor workout facility and the weight room, they were closed down temporarily for an inspection, and they signed off on everything we were doing,” said Julie Thannum, Carroll ISD’s assistant superintendent for board and community relations.

“They said they were pleased with the protocols we have in place, and the workouts have continued outside and are now allowed back in the indoor facility. They have never recommended that we shut all the workouts down. The only recommendation they had was to move weight training equipment out of the smaller weight room and into the indoor facility.”

All three athletes who tested positive are football players, but two of them are multisport athletes, with one also taking part in baseball and the other playing lacrosse outside of school. Carroll football coach Riley Dodge declined to comment and referred all questions to Thannum.

“All of the cases have been pretty mild, mild symptoms,” Thannum said.

“Given that most young athletes or young students have very minor cases when they do contract the virus, we are trying to make it so we can keep operating. We will reassess that any time the health department tells us to shut something down or just stop.”

Thannum said that Carroll cleans its facilities every night, and that a deep cleaning was done while the indoor facility and weight room were shut down for a few days after the first positive test.

Dallas ISD announced Friday that it was suspending workouts for the entire district and will reassess the situation July 6, and Garland ISD said Sunday that it is putting all workouts on hold until July 13. Houston ISD — the largest school district in the state, with 24 high schools competing in UIL athletics — shut down all of its strength and conditioning training as a precaution until July 13, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday.

Frisco ISD said that there have been positive COVID-19 tests at multiple campuses. An email from Frisco Lone Star football coach Jeff Rayburn to parents said that his school was one those with a positive test.

Frisco Wakeland and Frisco Memorial are the only schools in the district that have suspended summer workouts, FISD said, and both hope to resume workouts July 13. Frisco ISD normally does contact tracing after a positive test within the district, but Wakeland and Memorial halted workouts as contact tracing couldn’t be done because those who tested positive had been involved in off-campus events.

“The district has confirmed that certain individuals who participated in workouts at Wakeland High have tested positive for COVID-19,” the district said in an email that was sent Thursday to families of Wakeland students who have taken part in athletic workouts this summer. “It is unknown where the individuals were exposed to the virus, but the district has learned of off-campus events, unaffiliated with FISD, in which some students who have participated in Wakeland workouts might have had close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.”

Thannum said Carroll ISD has worked with an epidemiologist from the Tarrant County Health Department to do contact tracing for those who tested positive. Thannum said that the district is not aware of anyone else testing positive who came into contact with the three athletes who tested positive.

“Some of them are still waiting for their test results, but I know in the very first case, everybody has their test results back, and there was no one positive as a result of that case,” Thannum said.

“In all three cases, there was no indication that the student-athlete had actually contracted it at the workout. But it did impact the workout, because of the cohorts and the other individuals involved, and the coaches.”

The coaches, athletes and their families who were in contact with any of the athletes who tested positive have been notified and required to quarantine for a 14-day period from the first onset of symptoms. The quarantine is required by both the University Interscholastic League and the Tarrant County Health Department.

“Carroll ISD is working closely with Performance Course, the University Interscholastic League and the Tarrant County Health Department to manage the COVID-19 safety protocols and positive cases,” Thannum said.

“We believe our coaches and PC staff are doing a great job under the guidance of the TCHD and UIL. That said, this may be our new normal for a while until a vaccine or cure becomes available. Our goal is to provide as safe an environment as possible while also resuming school and extracurricular activities as soon as possible, too. We have been advised that we do not need to close down all workouts when we have a positive case, but instead address those facilities where that positive case was at and the cohort athletes/coaches who worked with the student-athlete in close proximity.”

Each time there was a positive test for an athlete, Carroll sent an email notifying everyone in the school district, with the first email sent June 15, the second sent June 21 and the final email sent Wednesday. Carroll ISD did not release health information or identify the students.

Carroll won’t hold workouts Friday through July 10, but that break was already scheduled and was not a result of the positive tests, Thannum said. After that, Carroll’s workouts will resume July 13.

Effective Monday, all athletes will be required to have a face covering when they enter/exit Performance Course and while indoors. When they are outside, face coverings will be optional, according to an email obtained by The Dallas Morning News that was sent by Jeremiah Chapman, who coordinates Carroll’s Performance Course program.

Chapman’s email said that Performance Course will continue to practice social distancing while adhering to the requirements set forth by the UIL, TEA and Tarrant County.

Carroll ISD is currently surveying parents and staff members about COVID-19 issues. Among the questions the district is asking parents is whether their child falls into a high-risk category for COVID-19, if they will feel comfortable allowing their student to take part in in-person learning in the fall, and if they will have their child wear a mask/face covering if in-person learning is able to take place.

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