By Jeff Harrison
It was only a matter of time.
While Noble County has been able to avoid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to a large degree, athletic programs throughout the East District started getting unwanted news over the last couple of weeks and now it’s finally hit here.
A tweet on Tuesday, June 30 by the Caldwell Athletic Department provided the first notification and then Athletic Director Eli Svercek offered confirmation later in the day.
“Due to a recent case of COVID-19, Caldwell athletic facilities will be shut down effective immediately until July 14,” the tweet read. “We will also be putting in place a ‘no-contact’ period with athletes and coaches during this time.”
“There is someone in the athletic department who tested positive,” said Svercek. “This individual went on vacation, had some minor symptoms and thought it was a sinus infection, but had a positive (COVID-19) test. The (Noble County) Health Department was brought in and they started doing contact tracing immediately.”
The Caldwell School District also took immediate action, according to Svercek.
“We are obviously concerned,” he admitted, “but the proper steps have been taken and we hope to mitigate it so a spread doesn’t occur.
“We’ve shut things down for two weeks and will sanitize everything in the gymnasium and weight room,” Svercek continued. “Also, anyone who had contact will be required to quarantine to see if they have any symptoms develop.
“After two weeks, we hope to go back into ‘Phase 2’ (the plan which began June 14 as the result of directives from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the OHSAA) and take the measures we have been taking with limited attendance, temperature monitoring and regular sanitizing.”
In addition to the summer conditioning program of its athletic programs, Caldwell’s softball team will take a two-week hiatus from the Cambridge Summer Softball League and the junior high baseball team will also be shut down for two weeks.
It also forces the cancellation of the 10th Annual Caldwell Varsity Shootout which had 17 area schools tentatively scheduled to participate on July 11.
There are now seven schools in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference which have shut down activities and facilities, with Caldwell joining Shadyside, Bellaire, Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville, Buckeye Local and Dover. Shadyside resumed all activities on Monday.
Meanwhile, activities will continue in the Noble Local School District although a former Shenandoah student, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, had participated in pick-up basketball with some current student-athletes.
“Those individuals are currently under 14-day quarantine,” said Shenandoah Athletic Director Eric Sholtis, “and the Noble County Health Department has told us that there is no reason to take further action as long as the current protocols and guidelines are being met with the summer conditioning programs.”