A COVID-19 outbreak at a Virginia high school may be connected to travel teams.
Health officials said they do not believe the outbreak at Independence High School in Loudoun County started with school activities.
At least 12 students at Independence High have tested positive for COVID-19. Some, but not all, had attended an out-of-town competition. (The health department director previously said all 12 had attended but later amended his statement.)
Other competitors were in quarantine, including the health department director’s daughter. It’s Loudoun County Public Schools’ largest outbreak to date.
“For a lot of these folks, what it means is their clubs are shut down for those 14 days, and maybe when it’s this large, their school team is shut down,” Loudoun County Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend said.
He said travel team involvement poses a far greater risk than school sports teams, especially if families carpool or eat out together on the road.
“When you carpool, you’re not following a 6-foot distancing, and you’re having people outside your bubble with you for an extended period of time,” he said.
Allison Shannon is a travel team parent who said she is not taking any chances. Her 14-year-old son plays on a travel baseball team, and her 15-year-old daughter plays on a basketball team. Shannon said team families strictly follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and the coaches’ rules.
“They’re telling us to wear masks and to avoid carpooling and to avoid exposure in any way other than allowing us to be able to have a season,” Shannon said.
She takes it even farther when competition involves overnight stays.
“We bring our own pillows and our own sheets and our own blankets, and I Lysol everything,” she said. “We pack coolers full of food and coolers full of water and we try really, really try hard to limit the exposure to going out to restaurants to eat. Our coaches actually discourage that.”