COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - All players and coaches of the A.C. Flora High School football team are currently under a 14-day quarantine after a member of the coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.
Officials said the positive test result came just hours after the team celebrated a huge win on Saturday night, beating North Myrtle Beach during the 4A Championship game.
Richland One Athletic director Bob Matz said because of the close contact in practices in the day leading up to the game, on the sidelines during the game, and during the celebrations after Saturday night’s victory, the district felt it was necessary to ask the entire 80-person team to quarantine.
“You have practices, team meetings, team meals, you have all of those things leading up to the state championship,” Matz explained.
He said a member of the coaching staff woke up Sunday morning not feeling well, and was tested that day for COVID-19.
The test came back positive Sunday afternoon and the district immediately started identifying close contacts, Matz said. But when they were watching tapes from the game, they came to the conclusion the entire team needed to quarantine.
“You can go back and watch the tape and say, ‘well where did this individual go,’” Matz said. “Well with practices, you’re all over the place and there’s contact with scrimmage teams and walk-throughs. It was safer for us to say all players and coaches will be quarantined.”
He said the district’s policy is that all coaches and players take their temperatures ahead of every practice and wear masks on the sidelines. He admitted, however, that some of the safety policies fell to the wayside on Saturday night as many players and coaches were seen hugging and celebrating the victory.
“It complicates the whole situation,” Matz said. “We ask our coaches and staff to make sure they are wearing their masks, but because of the situation and celebration and all that, you just have to be careful. And that’s another reason why we are being overly cautious and the team needs to quarantine.”
Matz stressed the district has all its sports teams follow CDC guidelines, adding that overall, the district didn’t have too many situations during the fall with teams needing to quarantine. He said they had a few volleyball and a few football teams that needed to quarantine.
“We feel like we’ve gone above and beyond what those recommendations are to make sure we do what we can to make sure our athletes and our faculty and staff are safe,” Matz said.
Matz said they notified North Myrtle Beach High School of the positive case and that Horry County Schools will notify potential secondary contacts.
Matz said as far as he’s aware, no students in the student section have had to quarantine. While Matz said the team and students were overjoyed to win the championship after not seeing a championship for 50 years, safety must always come first.