Athletic workouts at Du Quoin High School will remain suspended through July 10, after one student-athlete has tested positive for the coronavirus, and test results are pending for a second student.
Unit District 300 Superintendent Matt Hickam sent a note to parents on Friday, confirming the positive test. Athletic workouts at the high school were suspended last Tuesday after the student was found to have been in contact with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the district is waiting for test results from a second student, who also came in contact with a person later confirmed to have the virus. That student's situation was discovered on Thursday and is unrelated to the first student, Hickam said.
"The decision to cancel workouts was made due to the potential of cross-contact," Hickam wrote to parents. As a result of the positive test, "we are going to keep our athletic workouts suspended through next week (July 6-10) and we will reevaluate at the end of next week."
As Illinois moved into Phase 4 of the Recover Illinois reopening last week, the IHSA began permitting high school athletes to have conditioning workouts, as long as they remain socially distant. Athletes work out in small groups of fewer than nine, and move from coach to coach.
The student who tested positive was participating in those conditioning workouts, Hickam confirmed.
The second student has not. That student -- who has shown symptoms of the virus -- is involved in the kind of athletics that cheerleading and dance fall under, where practices have been more isolated, Hickam said.
He said that even without confirmed laboratory test results, it was necessary to cancel the workouts for the safety of students and coaches.
"These workouts are voluntarily, not high stakes," Hickam said. "There's no point in taking any risks."
And, the district will discuss the timeline for returning to the workouts.
Hickam said his understanding is that neither student knew they were in contact with a carrier of the virus. He believes that one of them may have been exposed to the virus while out of state.
The superintendent said the district has been working with the Perry County Health Department, which is following the protocols for tracing close contact with positive cases of COVID-19.
"As a school district, we will do our due diligence in communicating with parents/guardians of students who may have had close contact while at a school-sponsored activity," Hickam wrote in his Friday email.
"We will keep you updated as to the status of restarting our workout schedule as soon as we can. As always, the safety and well-being of our students is our priority."
Hickam noted that Perry County has had 10 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the past two weeks.
"As we enter a holiday weekend and continue through traditional vacation times for families, I encourage you to avoid identified COVID "hot spots" and follow the guidelines that have been put in place -- particularly social distancing, facial coverings, and proper hand-washing," he wrote.
"These guidelines do not eliminate risk, but they do significantly reduce our risk and help our county, our community, and our families to be as safe as possible."
• Via the Centers for Disease Control: "Based on current knowledge, a close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated. They should stay home, maintain social distancing and self-monitor until 14 days from the last date of exposure."