A Matanzas High School student-athlete has tested positive for Covid-19, Matanzas Principal Jeff Reaves informed parents in a letter on Monday–the same day the Florida High School Athletic Association voted to move ahead with fall sports practice to begin on July 27.
“The Florida Department of Health has notified us of a student athlete with a confirmed case of Covid-19,” Reaves wrote. The department conducts contact tracing investigations to determine who may have been at risk of infection. “You will receive notification from the Department of Health if it is determined you qualify for close contact and they will determine if a person needs to quarantine.”
Reaves noted the school was working with the health department to “Monitor for an y additional cases.” He did not disclose what sport the student was involved in, the age or sex of the student, though he is known to be a male. Nor did he disclose whether the student was involved in school sports currently.
Sports have been ongoing in the district in preparation for fall seasons in cross country, bowling, football, golf, swimming, competitive cheer and volleyball. “All of our fall sports have been able to do conditioning, no contact drills or anything like that,” Jason Wheeler, the district’s chief spokesman, said.
“We’re told that this is a student athlete,” Bob Snyder, the Flagler Health Department chief, said this morning. “Why the student went to get tested, I don’t know if he was symptomatic or not, but that is what the case investigator will determine. And if he is a student athlete, the exposure might be more significant because of the close contacts when you play sports.” Snyder said it would not be unusual if the number if close contacts was around 20. “It could be a large number, it just depends on which port, if it’s a contact sport. If it’s a sport like tennis, it might be different, obviously.”
All Flagler County students participating in sports or extra-curricular activities are required to sign a waiver holding their school district harmless. The waiver requires participants to comply with safety rules such as social distancing (the only safety measure specified in the release) and face “immediate removal” without appeal if guidelines aren’t followed.
Signatories “assume all risks that I and/or my child(ren) may be exposed to or infected by Covid-19 as a result of participation in the Activity, and that such exposure or infection may result in personal injury, illness, sickness and/or death. I understand that the risk of exposure or infection may result from the actions, omissions, of myself, my child(ren), FCS staff, volunteers or agents, or others not listed, and I acknowledge that all such risks are known to me.”
The Matanzas case is one of 67 positive Covid-19 confirmations in Flagler in the last three days–39 confirmed on Saturday, 11 confirmed on Monday, and 17 confirmed today (the numbers announced each day refer to cases confirmed the previous day). Flagler has had a cumulative total of 683 cases–half of them confirmed since July 1. By one measure, the positivity rate is 6.3 percent over the last 14 days in the county (when all tests, including antigen tests, which are less reliable, are included), and closer to 10 percent by a separate state health department count. Either way, the positivity rate is significantly above the 3 percent threshold health department officials say is the safe point below which schools and other communal activities can reopen.
Florida today reported 9,440 new cases of Covid-19, the first time in seven days that the number has fallen below 10,000. But the state department of health also reported 134 additional deaths, after reporting 90 the day before, bringing Florida’s total to 5,319. Ten people have died in Flagler County from Covid-19, three last week alone. Florida is the national epicenter of the summer’s Covid surge.
Flagler County schools are scheduled to open at their regularly scheduled time on Aug. 10 with three attendance options–two involving remote instruction, one in person. Volusia and Putnam counties, among many others across the state, have opted to delay opening schools at least two weeks.
The Flagler County School Board is meeting this afternoon in a 1 p.m. workshop, when Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt is expected to provide an update on the opening of schools and the board may discuss its own preferences for or against delaying the opening.
School districts across the country are delaying openings. California announced it would push its student football season to spring. In Florida, an FHSAA task force had proposed delaying the start of practice by two weeks and allowing school districts broader latitude with scheduling. The 16-member board voted that down. It also rejected a recommendation by the FHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to delay the football and volleyball seasons indefinitely. It voted instead 10-5 to have sports start on time while allowing districts that cannot do so to opt out of playoffs and play regular-season games through Dec. 12.
As far as the Matanzas student-athlete is concerned, Snyder said the case will be treated like any other positive case as the health department’s RN disease investigator gets in contact with the student and his family, “get a handle on what kind of symptoms they haves and there’s a series of questions that they ask that are specific” to the family, because “household transmission is so high.”
Contact tracing is next. A disease investigator will talk to the student about who he came in contact with since testing positive, who the close contacts are–people within six feet for 15 minutes or more. “There’s a long discussion then about who those close contacts might be and once that is identified, our tracers will then get on the phone and start calling and interacting with those close contacts, calling them on the phone and asking them certain precept questions about their exposures, how they feel, if they have any symptoms, and giving them any guidance” on testing and other measures, Snyder said. “It could be many, so it all depends, each case is different, that’s why you hear in the news about the importance of having a little army of case investigators and contact tracers.” The aim is to contain community spread by ensuring that anyone who may have been exposed is quarantined.
Stephanie Ear, the health department’s school health coordinator has worked out a protocol with Lynette Shott, the district’s director of school and community engagement, that applies the same protocol as when a school experiences a flu outbreak. “It’s a letter that goes out to the close contacts and parents to let them know that it’s a great possibility that your child has been exposed to the flu, in this case exposed to Covid-19,” Snyder said, keeping the individual students’ identities confidential.
They must have not been by these practices which you can clearly see from the road especially at FPC. These kids and coaches are not practicing safety measures ….. as I refused to let my son go back after 2 nd day … they were supposed to be spaced out distancing themselves and it’s been a train wreck . I blame the school athletic director and head coach for being selfish and needless self serving during a time like this … the focus should be getting our kids safely back in school which should take priority of football ….I asked my son how the practice was with the rules in place and he commented what rules ? Players are still working out when they are not supposed to and he said there were adults there among the kids who already graduated and practicing as well …. you want to see a crap show ? Go park off bull dog and record it …..only a matter of time before you write about positive kids on football team ….
Just shut the schools down says
And so it begins…
Runners (cross country) on Graham Swamp Trail/Colbert Lane yesterday were not all complying with social distancing guidelines; one group of approximately eight looked like a military squad in close order drill!
Mother of student that tested positive says
Let’s be clear … I am the mother of the student that tested positive. It is extremely unlikely that he contracted it from school related sports workout as Matanzas has had strict adherence to social distancing! Based on the information from the health department, it is also less likely because of the timing of his symptoms. This was likely a case of community spread due to continued unwillingness of our “leaders” to mandate and enforce mask wearing! My child was not allowed to run around town, he wore a mask everywhere, but as the scientist have told us repeatedly- wear a mask to protect others and someone didn’t make that choice for him! Now he’s been very sick but is starting to improve , I am possibly sick and it’s taking it’s toll (I wasn’t athletic or particularly healthy before). God willing we will get through it. I am posting this because If it encourages ONE person to reconsider going without a mask – it’s worth any blow back. In my opinion:
We need to seriously consider moving back the opening start of school until we have a better on the explosion of cases in our community!
We need to demand our sheriff enforce the city approved mask mandate!
Trust me…I haven’t hugged my kid in 10 days!
Just a Mom says
I’m sorry that your family is going through this. I pray that you all recover and that your son returns to being a healthy strong athlete and that this doesn’t worsen your health
Born and raised here says
We must allow these Student athletes to continue to hone their skills and get back onto the field.
Many [f them are being looked at by college recruiters for possible
College scholarships. How are can we deny a Student Athletes an opportunity of a college education. Besides if Flagler schools don’t have Fall Sports what going to stop these Student Athletes to go play in another County. This will be a tremendous blow to Flagler Schools and its Athletic department.