Three students, including a football player, at Searcy High School tested positive for covid-19, the school announced in a news statement Monday.

Searcy School District spokesman Betsy Bailey told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the school learned of the positive tests Sunday night.

In addition to the football player, two members of Searcy’s dance team tested positive for the virus.

Football practice was canceled Monday for precautionary reasons. Athletic facilities were being deep-cleaned and disinfected. Bailey said that the football team will resume practice today after the Arkansas Department of Health gave approval.

Bailey said the students were last on Searcy’s campus late last week. When asked where the students may have contracted the virus, Bailey said she did not know.

Searcy administrators contacted the health department Monday about the three positive cases. The district was in the process of notifying parents of students who may have been in contact with them.

The Lions are the defending Class 6A state champions, earning their first title since 1933 in December. Former Southside Batesville coach Kenny Simpson took over as head coach in June after Mark Kelley left for an assistant coaching position at Conway.

Searcy is the 18th known school district to have had at least one positive covid-19 case or exposure to the virus in its athletic program. Since football teams began fall practice Aug. 3, eight schools — Benton Harmony Grove, Junction City, Salem, Green Forest, Bauxite, Hazen, Fort Smith Southside and Searcy — have reported at least one case in its football program.

Benton Harmony Grove is scheduled to reopen its program today. Green Forest will be shut down until at least Thursday. Junction City announced Aug. 4 that it shut down its athletic program until Aug. 17. Hazen has suspended athletic activities until further notice.

Salem, Bauxite and Fort Smith Southside have resumed practice.

The Arkansas Activities Association has stated that it is still following its 2020-21 calendar in which the football season is scheduled to start on time Aug. 27. Gov. Asa Hutchinson approved the state’s football teams to wear helmets beginning Aug. 3 and shoulder pads Aug. 5. Teams are able to practice with full gear this week, according to the AAA calendar.

Schools are scheduled to open in the state Aug. 24. Bailey said Searcy’s staff will make sure students will be safe to attend school.

“We will follow the guidelines,” Bailey said. “Our staff is being very diligent in putting our plan together. We will have social-distancing regulations in place. We are doing everything that we can do.”

Programs affected by covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has forced at least 17 schools to shut down their football programs this summer because of a positive case or exposure to the virus. At least 1 other school reported a positive case, but did not shut down. School districts listed in order of their announcements:

JONESBORO

The school district announced a positive test for a football player June 15. Football workouts resumed June 16.

LAKE HAMILTON

An athlete tested positive for the virus June 23. Athletic workouts resumed the week of June 29-July 3.

MOUNTAIN PINE

An athlete tested positive for the virus June 23. Athletic workouts resumed the week of July 6-10.

CLARKSVILLE

Two football players tested positive for the virus July 7. Football workouts were shut down until July 22.

CARLISLE

The athletic program shut down twice in July after three athletes were exposed to the virus. All of their tests were later negative. The school resumed workouts July 20.

LITTLE ROCK CATHOLIC

Three athletes tested positive for the virus in July. The school resumed workouts the week of July 20-24.

ATKINS

A seventh-grader tested positive for the virus, the school district announced July 14. The school resumed workouts July 20.

LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL

A football player tested positive for the virus, and the football program did not hold workouts July 16. The program resumed workouts July

20.

OSCEOLA

A football coach was exposed to the virus July 16. The football program was shut down for the week of July 20-24 and resumed workouts July

27.

BEEBE

The school announced two positive cases July 3 and July 30. The football program returned to workouts Monday.

BENTON HARMONY GROVE

A football coach tested positive for the virus Saturday. The football program is shut down until today.

JUNCTION CITY

Two football players tested positive for the virus Tuesday. The athletic program is shut down until Aug. 17.

SALEM

A student tested positive for the virus Thursday. The football program originally planned to shut down until Aug. 21, but said Friday that it will resume practice Monday after learning that the players in the program who were considered to be close-contact with the infected student were not close-contact after all, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

GREEN FOREST

An assistant football coach tested positive for the virus Aug. 1. The football program is shut down until Aug. 13.

BAUXITE

Five football players tested positive for the virus between July 23 and July 27. The players are expected to return to practice today.

HAZEN

An athlete tested positive for the virus, the school announced Sunday. The athletic program is shut down until further notice.

FORT SMITH SOUTHSIDE

A football player tested positive for the virus Friday, the school announced Monday. The football program is continuing to practice after receiving notice that no one in the program came into close contact with the player.

SEARCY

A football player and two members of the dance team tested positive for the virus, the school announced Monday. Football practice was canceled Monday, but will resume today.


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