Glencoe suspends summer workouts after player tests positive for COVID-19

High school football teaser

Kirsten Fiscus / The Anniston Star

No school in Calhoun County has halted its summer conditioning program because an athlete or coach has tested positive for COVID-19. Other schools in the area haven’t been as fortunate.

At Ragland, just 10 miles from Ohatchee, the Purple Devils are returning to workouts Friday after missing two weeks. Jennifer Ball, beginning her fifth year as principal at Ragland, said the players managed just three days of activity before workouts were halted. She added they are excited at the prospect of resuming.

“We had a member of the coaching staff test positive. My central office set a policy at that point to shut us down for two weeks,” Ball said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. “We shut down for two weeks, properly sanitized and sent all the athletes home. They will resume workouts tomorrow.”

A member of Glencoe High School’s football team tested positive for COVID-19 early last week and the school immediately suspended all its summer workouts. Glencoe is slightly less than 15 miles from Alexandria.

Glencoe assistant principal C.J. Boyd confirmed Wednesday evening that a senior football player with no COVID-19 symptoms attended a morning workout June 16. Boyd said the player’s older brother went to a doctor with symptoms that day and tested positive. At that point, the Glencoe player was tested. and his test returned positive, too.

“We decided as a staff just to go ahead and shut down workouts and what we did was we shut down for two weeks,” Boyd said Wednesday evening, noting that workouts are not scheduled to resume until the week following the Fourth of July. “We wanted to be proactive. We just wanted to shut it down for a period of time. … We have cleaned. We have sanitized. Everything’s been cleaned. We’ve done the foggers, done everything we can to clean it up.”

At Glencoe, the male athletes lift weights in the football field house while the female athletes have their own separate weight room in the gymnasium. Although the two groups do not interact at workouts, Glencoe officials decided to suspend the workout program for the girls at the same time the boys’ activities were suspended.

“We went ahead and shut them down, too, and took the opportunity to re-clean everything,” Boyd said of the girls’ facilities. “We cleaned their weight room. We cleaned the boys’ weight room. Everything’s been cleaned and sanitized really well.”

Boyd said Glencoe’s plan was to shut down for 14 days. A one-week break ahead of the Fourth of July holiday was already part of the summer schedule.

The shutdown plus the holiday break will mean Glencoe athletes will go almost three weeks without an organized workout.

“I think we’re OK. I think it was a very isolated situation. We definitely caught it early. We definitely caught it at the right time to make sure it didn’t spread any more than what it did,” Boyd said.

The Glencoe football player who tested positive illustrated one dilemma facing coaches and school officials. Boyd said the athlete had no COVID-19 symptoms at the time he attended workouts and has remained asymptomatic.

Another issue is the lack of control over the actions of athletes away from school. Schools can and do take temperatures, clean and sanitize and enforce social distancing at workouts.

“As soon as these kids walk out the door, they’re all over each other. … Before they get to school or when they leave, there has to be some personal responsibility,” Boyd said.