GAITHERSBURG, Md. (FOX 5 D.C) - A Gaithersburg high school had to put its football program temporarily suspended Tuesday after six people tested positive for COVID19. An MCPS spokesperson tells FOX 5 that number grew to at least nine positive cases on Wednesday – all associated with Quince Orchard High School’s football team.
We’re told the school was first notified of a positive case on Monday morning.
"Football practices and activities were paused this week out of an abundance of caution and to ensure MCPS staff and the Department of Health and Human Services were able to conduct contact tracing and connect with the 100-member team," wrote Montgomery County Public Schools Spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala.
The temporary suspension of all football programming left several parents across the county concerned – not just for the health and safety of the students but also concerned over whether fall sports could be canceled altogether when so many student-athletes did not get to compete last year.
Walt Whitman High School is supposed to play Quince Orchard in their first football game of the season. Some of the parents we spoke to at Whitman High School on Wednesday, football parents and not, hadn’t heard of the outbreak yet.
"Sure, I do have concerns about it. But I’m more concerned about a knee-jerk reaction than I am about actual facts and I feel like this county is just too quick to pull the figure and shut everything down when the facts aren’t there," said Whitman football parent Steve Goodman.
"I just would like for the kids to be able to go back and do what they’re supposed to be doing. They need this. I just hope the program doesn’t shut down. I really don’t. But you know this Delta variant is really crazy," said Joy Bryant, the parent of a Whitman field hockey player.
Both parents say they understand the need for temporary closures to keep the community safe.
What no one knows is how long Quince Orchard’s 100-person football program will be suspended for, as the county conducts contact tracing and how this could impact quarantines and closures when those student-athletes enter into school building starting Aug. 30.
"I probably would do the same thing, if I needed to shut down a quick outbreak, but does that mean their whole season is going to be lost? I don’t know," Goodman said.
FOX 5 got to ask the Montgomery County Deputy Health Officer about outbreaks involving sports teams and how this might impact schools when Montgomery County student-athletes step back into the classroom in less than two weeks.
When asked if there is a number for what could shut down a sports team or school, Dr. James Bridgers told FOX 5, "If one person on the football team is tested positive or the whole team is tested positive, the whole team needs to isolate."
The county’s health department is now conducting contact tracing for the team, which includes around 100 members.
School officials say following Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines, individuals who were known to have direct contact with those infected have been notified and advised to quarantine.
They add that unless you are notified directly, your child does not need to be tested or quarantine.
Parents are encouraged to monitor their students for any COVID-like symptoms and keep them home if they are sick.