Growing Number of High School Football Games Cancelled Over COVID-19 Concerns

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It’s week one of the Texas high school football season and already, a number of games have been called off.

COVID-19 cases continue to be reported among student-athletes.

Ranchview High School’s first varsity football game of the season on Friday has been canceled after two coronavirus cases were reported.

“There were some kids that were quarantined and for the safety of all, we decided to go ahead and cancel the first game,” said Renee Putter, director of athletics for the Carrollton-Farmers Branch School District. “Our other three high schools so far, it’s Wednesday, they are playing.”

The Dallas Independent School District has 53 campuses with competitive athletic programs.

So far, four varsity football matchups within the Dallas ISD have been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns:

  • Thomas Jefferson vs. North Dallas (Both teams canceled for COVID-19 reasons)
  • Pinkston vs. Venus (Both teams canceled for COVID-19 reasons)
  • Carter vs. Arlington Seguin (Arlington Seguin will now play Northwest Eaton at Northwest ISD Stadium Friday at 7 p.m.)

“Either somebody’s been in contact or somebody tested positive,” said Silvia Salinas, executive director of athletics for DISD. “The team we have in place to help follow through with the protocols and communicate the protocols is top-notch.”

The school district has sports medicine and health services teams in regular communication with county health leaders and school leaders.

COVID-19 continues to sideline student-athletes across the country.

“It’s not terribly surprising,” said Dr. Mark Casanova, immediate past president of the Dallas County Medical Society.

Casanova said there’s a key difference between COVID-19 2020 and the virus and delta variant seen today.

“Individuals do seem to be getting sicker, or most specifically we’re seeing a greater number of younger, otherwise healthy individuals getting sick,” he said.

Asked whether the delta variant is more dangerous for young people, Casanova said: “It’s more highly transmissible and the viral load that is transmitted is much greater. I think the inference that many of us are making is we’re seeing a greater number of otherwise healthy and younger individuals hospitalized this go-around that we were not seeing with the alpha variant.”

Dallas ISD is also making vaccines available to those student-athletes who choose to be vaccinated.

Carrollton-Farmers Branch is leaving vaccination status to school nurses and not coaching staff.

“The coaches are mainly there to tell the kids: We’re in Dallas County, you got to wear a mask. Hand sanitize, keep your distance,” said Putter. "Team practices are also kept separated, so that if there is an outbreak, we would not take out an entire program,” she said.

As to the game plan for the coming weeks and months, athletic departments are taking it one day at a time.

“You can have the best game plan and tomorrow it’s shot,” said Putter. “It’s day by day.”

Salinas said they’re trying to be prepared based on what the district went through last year, hoping student-athletes will remain focused and follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“We are going through some hiccups and some bumps in their lives,” she said. “I would just encourage them to continue doing what they’re doing. Focus on their studies.”

The doctor’s advice for school leaders and parents? Encourage masks when possible and consider the COVID-19 vaccine for those who are eligible.

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