St. Charles North cheerleaders limit activity after at least one tests positive for COVID-19

  • At least one student on the varsity cheerleading team at St. Charles North High School has developed COVID-19.

      At least one student on the varsity cheerleading team at St. Charles North High School has developed COVID-19. Rick West | Staff Photographer, August 2018

 
 
Updated 8/18/2020 6:31 PM

The varsity cheerleading coach at St. Charles North High School has advised the team to meet virtually or in small groups after an unspecified number of teens on the squad had contracted COVID-19.

The news that at least one student tested positive for the virus comes as high schools in St. Charles Unit District 303 will launch the new school year Wednesday with remote-only instruction.

 

It's unclear how many students may have been infected or exposed. The school hasn't received any information from the Kane County Health Department that indicated there was a positive case identified within the team, district spokeswoman Carol Smith said Tuesday.

"Privacy laws prohibit us from engaging in conversations about student health matters that have not been brought to our attention by a health care provider or the Kane County Health Department," Smith said in a written statement. "If the health department asks us to partner in that endeavor, we will work with them to follow up as directed."

A health department spokeswoman declined to provide information about infections involving the North cheerleading team. The origin of any case cannot be determined, Smith said.

Smith said it's the primary role of the health department to conduct contact tracing.

"This is particularly true when students are not in session," she wrote. "In the event of a positive case in any individual, the health dept. and or primary care provider would be responsible for determining close contacts that would require others to quarantine."

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Coaches have followed social distancing mitigation strategies during all on-site practices, which concluded Aug. 4, Smith said. Athletes have been instructed to observe those protocols in their communities.

"During camp, where we have oversight of our athletes, cheerleaders did not engage in stunts and were told by the coach to not engage in stunts off campus," Smith wrote.

After the cheerleading summer camp ended, the coach told families on Aug. 7 that the squad will get together weekly, likely on Wednesdays as a team, or in smaller groups, according to an email obtained by the Daily Herald. The cheer coach did not respond to inquiries.

"The Wednesday meetings were chosen by the girls because that was the day they did not have any other activities outside of school," Smith wrote. "When the coach became aware that a student tested positive, the coach told the girls to only meet virtually or in small groups where they could practice social distancing and other safety protocols."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Last week, the district received additional guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health about the process for notifying families of a COVID-19 case in student athletes.

When school resumes, if there is a case on an athletic team, the school would notify the athletes on district teams, as well as those with whom they have been in competition.

Cheerleading's competition season is scheduled in the winter. The sideline cheer season will start in the spring on Feb. 15, according to Illinois High School Association guidelines.

State guidelines also have classified cheerleading as a high-risk sport for coronavirus transmission.

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