The shortened 2020-21 football season for Eastlake High School ended in early April with an unwelcomed development that has heightened concerns for parents, students and staff alike. After the final game, two Eastlake players tested positive for COVID-19.
On April 2, Eastlake played its last game at home against Redmond. The next day, Lake Washington School District (LWSD) was notified of the positive COVID tests among two Eastlake varsity players, according to Shannon Parthemer, director of communications for LWSD.
The two players had significant playing time during the game, and the district now considers all players and staff as “close contacts,” according to a LWSD notice provided to the entire Redmond football team. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that close contacts get tested for COVID-19, unless they have been fully vaccinated or have tested positive themselves within the past three months.
Parthemer said the district initiated its COVID response protocols after hearing about the positive cases. These include activating its Emergency Coordination Center to clean areas the students may have been in before, during, and after the game. The district also contacted students, parents and staff who may have been exposed.
These cases come as public health officials are attributing some of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases to youth sports. Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said on April 2 that eight outbreaks over the prior eight weeks were associated with youth sport leagues.
Football is considered a “high-contact” sport by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), which governs high school sports and has issued COVID-19 health and safety guidelines that follow the state’s phased reopening plan.
Even with the increased number of COVID-19 cases associated with youth sports, the next high school sports season—covering traditional winter sports such as basketball, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wresting—will still move forward as scheduled from now until May 8.