MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The boys’ basketball and wrestling teams at University High were both benched Friday, after a WVU student intern working with their athletes tested positive for COVID-19.
“This is gonna hit pretty hard,” said Eddie Campbell Jr., Monongalia County’s superintendent of schools.
That’s because 55 student-athletes, plus one coach, now must quarantine for the next 14 days, as per health guidelines set by the county.
“This really throws them off,” Campbell said. “Now they won’t be able to start practices,” which would have been Monday.
The state Secondary Schools Activities Commission set that date as part of its 2021 pandemic-minded schedule for spring sports teams.
High school basketball, wrestling and swimming teams across the state had also been given this past week to begin conditioning to get ready for their seasons, which have already been clouded by COVID-19.
The WVU intern learned of her diagnosis after working on strength and conditioning exercises with both teams Tuesday night.
University spokeswoman April Kaull said later that evening she couldn’t disclose the student’s name or major, under mandates of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
“WVU and the Monongalia County school system have had a long-standing relationship to provide quality experiential learning opportunities within county high schools,” she said in an emailed statement.
“During the pandemic, stringent health and safety protocols have been implemented and followed, including regular testing of athletic support personnel through the WVU testing system,” her statement continued.
“The university is following its established protocol in working with the Monongalia County Health Department on contact tracing as well as communicating with the Monongalia County Board of Education.”
WVU’s College of Physical Activities and Sport Sciences, though, has been associated with the district over the years, offering internship opportunities for graduate students wanting to go into coaching.
This isn’t the first time a Mon County team has been affected by the COVID case involving a WVU student-coach.
Last fall, Clay-Battelle’s football team was pulled off a bus about the leave the parking for an away game – as school administrators were just learning of the positive diagnosis of another strength and conditioning intern.
The most recent news highlights the ongoing concern of community spread of the virus, and of how cases are still casting big shadows over the district.
Mason Dixon Elementary will remain on remote learning for the rest of this coming week.
Officials closed the school after four of its students went to a birthday party and came home with the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, those teachers and other employees in the 50-year age range all received second doses of the Moderna vaccine Friday.
Some 360 doses were administered, school health supervisor Susan Haslebacher said, which covers every one of the district’s workers in that age range.
After two weeks, the newly vaccinated should have a 94% immunity rate against COVID.
“You have to feel good about that,” Campbell said.