Student athletes in two Arkansas school districts test positive for COVID-19

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GOSNELL, Ark. — Football coaches across Arkansas are anxious to hear Governor Asa Hutchinson’s remarks Friday. He’s expected to discuss the future of contact sports for the fall.

Lewis Earnest is head coach of the Gosnell High School football team. 

“All the coaches I talk to, we just want clarification if they’re gonna push the season back, if they’re gonna start it on time, if they’re gonna move it to the spring,” Earnest said.

Earnest runs the high school and junior high team, where a player tested positive for COVID-19 this week. He says the player is under quarantine, but the others have been allowed to continue practice.

The district claims the student athletes are not at risk because of strict safety measures in place. 

“In the weight room we have to wear masks,” Earnest said, “We use Lysol wipes and sanitary spray to spray the bars and the weights and everything. We have to have different spotting rules. You can’t spot right on top of somebody, so you have to spot from the side.”

On top of that, practices times are scattered, and each team uses a different field with players staying 12 feet apart. There are no contact drills.

Right now, there are no practices in the small town of Marked Tree. The school district suspended all sports after a varsity player tested positive.

Officials won’t say what team the player is on. 

Earnest hopes the governor will offer more direction and ease some anxiety Friday.

“It’s unprecedented, but every team’s at the same disadvantage,” Earnest said.

Even if fall sports do start on time, the Arkansas Department of Health says this is a fluid situation. Officials say the infection rate will determine if policies have to change during the fall season.

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