DANVILLE — Danville has closed football practice after a player tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.

The Blue Devils will not be returning to practice until Aug. 4, athletic director Matt Moore said.

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“We had a player test positive on Tuesday and we were in contact with the Knox County Health Department and Julie Miller on recommendations on what to do,” Moore said. “With recommendations, we put the football team and coaches under quarantine until Aug. 4.”

“We’re just following the guidance of the health department,” Danville football coach Cameron Smith said. “Right now, we’re staying at home, trying to get healthy and trying to make sure that everybody stays healthy and then we can hopefully play football.”

The player participated in practice Monday without feeling symptoms, but took a turn that night and notified the coaches.

“He was in practice on Monday,” Smith said. “He felt fine during practice – he didn’t have any symptoms or anything. Then, Monday night, he said he felt sick and gave me a call.”

Smith said he told the athlete to stay home and the coaches went through the symptom checklist with all of the players the following day before practice and notified Moore.

“(Coach Smith) did everything right,” Moore said. “The player told him that he was sick, the coach told him to stay home the next day. The coach did everything he was supposed to prevent further spreading.”

Smith said there are no plans to have everyone on the team tested, but that could change.

The positive test has not impacted other sports in terms of practice availability.

“The only sports that are working right now are fall sports,” Moore said. “That would help eliminate some of the contact between the in-season athletes.”

Winter and spring sports had already wrapped up summer training by the time the school got word of the positive test.

Like schools around the state, Danville is planning for an Aug. 1 start for fall sports, not including football. But Moore and company are also waiting on a final word from the Governor’s office or the OHSAA.

“I know it’s a difficult decision and I would not want to make the decision to cancel sports – especially football,” Moore said. “I know there are a lot of fans – especially in the Danville community that loves football. But I think a decision has to be made pretty soon.

“These kids are putting in a lot of time and effort to prepare for a season. Nobody wants to see kids or adults waste their time getting ready for a season that’s not going to happen.”

Danville has already decided on who it will play in the fall. Like Centerburg, the Devils will not be playing schools located in Level 3 or “red” counties.

The Fairfield County Health Department recommended that schools not return to in-person classes and the cancellation of fall sports, according to a report by the Lancaster Eagle Gazette.

Knox County has been moved up to Level 2 (orange) on the Ohio Public Advisory System as of Thursday. But that distinction and the positive test has not altered practices at Danville, Moore said.

The football did have to reschedule a couple of things. Smith was planning a midnight practice for Aug. 1 to begin the fall season. That has been moved to Aug. 4.

The team was supposed to do a lift-a-thon on Saturday to raise money for the program. Smith said it’ll be rescheduled, but doesn’t know the date yet.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association released guidelines for the fall season on Thursday as well. The guidelines call for temperature checks and masks for all fans attending games in the fall, putting school administrators in the difficult position of enforcement, Moore said.

“I think it makes it very difficult to enforce,” Moore said. “I think a screening of fans and keeping fans spread out – even players spread out when they’re not participating – that’s very difficult. Personal-wise, I don’t know of a lot of schools that have enough help to take temperatures of every fan coming in to the venue.”

 

Michael Rich: 740-397-5333 or mrich@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mrichnotwealthy