Sports close contacts send students into quarantine and spring brings new COVID rules


Photo by Ellie Anderson

Members of the Boys’ Varsity Basketball team participate in a masked huddle during the 2020-2021 season.

Nick Alutto, Editor-in-Chief

As a result of positive COVID-19 tests during LFA’s recurring surveillance COVID tests, members of the JV Boys’ basketball team and members of the Varsity Girls’ Basketball team, along with any other close contacts, were forced to quarantine for two weeks. With two whole athletic teams forced to quarantine, it was extremely noticeable to most students as they saw their classmates taking classes remotely for an extended period of time. This has led many students to wonder more about the close contact process, specifically with how it relates to sports at LFA.

One thing that some students were wondering about was why for some sports that had positive cases during the school year, like field hockey, other members of the team were not forced to quarantine, but the entire basketball teams that had positive tests this February did have to quarantine.

Anna Kliner, Director of Health Services, talked about the differences between close contacts for different sports, “Pretty much all the outdoor sports are considered low risk…partially it has to do with having detailed contact tracing conversations about how the people who tested positive were interacting with the team.”

For the field hockey team, the individual who tested positive was not interacting with any of the other players, and the sport is held outdoors, which made it so that the members of the team did not need to quarantine. On the other hand, a player on the Boy’s JV Basketball team tested positive, and the coach on Girls’ Varsity Basketball was practicing with the players. Due to the high risk designation of basketball by the Illinois High School Association, and due to contract tracing conversations, both of the teams had to undergo a full quarantine.

Although part of this difference was due to the high risk designation of basketball, another part of the differences in protocol came due to changing CDC guidelines.

“Back then, it was 15 minutes at a time, so you could have, in theory, five interactions of fourteen and a half minutes in a 24 hour period and not be considered a close contact. The CDC clarified to make it a lot more reasonable and rational that it’s actually 15 minutes of cumulative time over a 24 hour period,” Kliner said.

LFA has also been practicing very diligent COVID protocols to diminish close contacts and to make sure that they are found when they occur.

“They are keeping track, for instance, of who is in the practice, what they are doing those days, and they are filming those practices, so that we can see what actual interaction there was,” Kliner said.

Although it is important for everyone at LFA to continue practicing social distancing to prevent anything else from happening before the school year ends, some restrictions around athletics at LFA are being rolled back for the spring and summer seasons.

Darrin Madeley, Athletic Director, discussed bringing back spectators to outdoor events, saying, “We are going to allow spectators at outdoor events, and I am working on the protocols for that and trying to figure out what the right number is. We are allowed 20% of our capacity for the turf…I am going to put up a gate so at game time I can stand there and kind of direct traffic. So, students will start being able to see soccer and field hockey.”

Even with the guidelines and quarantines that have occurred over the past year, the risk of holding athletic team practices and events have seemingly not been as great as the benefits that these things bring to LFA’s community.

Antonio Ferraiolo ‘21, a member of the JV basketball team describes his experience with the basketball season, “I really missed the team environment because you learn so much in the classroom but you also learn so much out in the court and out on the field…quarantining for two weeks really made me question if I should’ve played basketball, but I’m glad that I did and tried something new.”