Long County High School in Ludowici has shut down summer sports conditioning until July after learning that an athlete tested positive for COVID-19, football coach J.T. Pollock confirmed Monday evening.
“We had a student-athlete that tested positive for symptoms Friday,” Pollock told the AJC. “We had physicals Wednesday, and because of contact (between the student and other athletes) going back 48 hours, we’ve decided to shut down operations. That’s a decision that our administration and board made (Monday), and I have no problems with that. As anxious as we are to get to work, the health and well-being of our kids come first.”
Long County, which announced the news via the football team’s Twitter account Monday evening, is the state’s first high school to acknowledge a positive COVID-19 test by a coach or athlete since the GHSA allowed its member schools to start summer conditioning June 8.
The Class A school, located about 42 miles southwest of Savannah, plans to resume conditioning July 7 with an extra seven days off for the GHSA’s mandated dead week June 29-July 4, Pollock said.
Monday’s news didn’t make the coach less optimistic about the coming season, he said. His team’s first game is scheduled for Aug. 21.
“It’s a setback for us, but it’s one we’ve got to overcome,” said Pollock, in his fourth season at the school. “We’re used to challenges at Long County. We’ll do our best to rise up and continue to get better.”
Pollock stopped short of predicting a normal season, though.
“We’ve had questions from the get-go from fans, coaches,” he said. “We want things to be back to normal. We want to get back in the stands and on the field competing again, but that’s weighed by the safety of the students and the general public. We’re going to see what happens in July. We’re literally taking this one day at a time. It’s going to be an interesting year.”
The county has had only 24 confirmed cases, two hospitalizations and one death attributed to COVID-19 through Monday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Long County’s population is roughly 19,000, according to census estimates.
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