Editor’s note: This story was updated on Sept. 9, 2020.
By Travis Mounts
CHENEY – There will be no football activity for the Cheney Middle School Cardinals through Sept. 14.
This decision was announced Wednesday, Sept. 2, “under the direction of the Sedgwick County Health Department and COVID-19 circumstances,” according to an announcement from the district.
Games set for last Thursday, as well as this Thursday and this coming Monday will not be played. The Cardinals were set to host the Kingman Eagles last week. The next two games were to be at Conway Springs this week and a Monday B-game against Reno Valley Middle School.
“This is not an easy or desired situation, but in this time we don’t get to choose the timing and circumstances of changes being put in our path,” the district said.
Superintendent David Grover said the district is dealing with two positive COVID-19 cases among students and another with a staff member. Seventeen other students have been quarantined.
Grover said there are about 825 students and roughly 150 staff members in the district, and that classes have been going on for nearly four weeks.
“At any time, there are 1,000 people mingling in our three buildings,” he said. Getting positive COVID-19 cases was just a matter of time, Grover said, and the district is pleased so few students are currently impacted.
That could change, Grover acknowledged. The Silver Lake school district made it just four days before going to remote learning last week because of nine cases among classified staff members, plus some other “close contacts.” That district was expected to resume in-person classes this week.
The Macksville district called off classes for its middle school and high school after a volleyball player tested positive. The number of possible contacts plus unanswered questions about contact tracing led the district to quarantine the entire building and call off in-person classes for six days.
The entire football team at Blue Valley West High School in Johnson County was recently put into quarantine. This week’s Cheney High School junior varsity football game with Kingman, set for Monday, was called off. Grover said he thought it was related to COVID-19 at that school.
The Cheney School District said last week it will do what it can to keep kids involved in school and activities as much as possible “using the date and guidance that we are given.”
Last week, Gov. Laura Kelly announced that Kansas will begin next week to release the names and locations of active COVID-19 outbreaks in the state.
“With our children returning to school, sports resuming, and college campuses reopening – we’re seeing the largest increase in outbreaks to date,” Kelly said. “By sharing where the outbreaks take place, Kansans will be better informed about the threat of COVID-19 in their schools and communities, and will be better prepared to contain and stop the spread of the virus.”
The updates will be provided every Wednesday, starting Sept. 9. Last week, Kansas saw its highest increase in outbreaks to date, with an increase of 26 outbreaks from Wednesday through Friday, Aug. 26-28. At the end of last week, the state had 170 outbreaks.
Active locations will be released when there are five or more confirmed cases associated with the location. For private businesses, the name of the business will be released only if there are 20 or more cases. Kansas defines an outbreak as two or more cases associated with one known exposure.
In August, Argonia Elementary School pushed off the start of school by eight days after a majority of teachers were asked to quarantine because of COVID-19 or exposure to someone who had it. The junior-senior high school started on time.
Most other districts in the TSnews coverage area delayed the start of classes to better prepare for the new school year. Goddard and Haysville schools didn’t begin classes until after Labor Day.