Blackwell coach tests positive for COVID-19; Meeting being held tonight

by Jordan Green

A Blackwell High School assistant football coach tested positive for the coronavirus June 9 after returning from an out-of-state trip.

Blackwell Public Schools Superintendent Shawn Haskins did not identify the coach.

“This coach traveled out-of-state to a funeral where he was exposed” to the virus, Haskins said in a news release. “On [June 5], he was contacted by a family member that someone in their family had tested positive for COVID-19.”

The coach went to Ponca City that day to be tested for the virus, and health officials told him June 9 that he had tested positive. The coach has been in self-quarantine since being tested, Haskins said.

The coach conducted summer workouts with members of the high school football team June 4 and 5 before learning that he had been exposed to the virus.

“He was wearing a mask and was outside when in contact with the students,” Haskins said.

Parents of students who came into contact with the coach have been notified, Haskins said. The health department investigated the case and placed four individuals in self-quarantine. All four individuals have tested negative for the virus, two of whom were coaches.

“After visiting with the health department … they feel the likelihood of someone becoming infected from contact with this coach is low, due to the fact that he was wearing a mask and his contact with them was outside,” Haskins said. “Please keep this coach and those that were around him in your prayers.”

City officials said they were also monitoring the situation. To help prevent the virus’ spread, the number of patrons allowed in the municipal pool will be reduced.

“The City of Blackwell is aware of the situation regarding a member of the Blackwell High School coaching staff who tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) earlier this week,” officials said in a news release. “The affected member contracted the virus while out of state and had already been exercising safe social-distancing practices, including wearing a mask for safety and maintaining a distance between fellow coaching staff and high school students.

“City of Blackwell Emergency Manager Cory Hanebrink said that, due to the individual’s precautions, risk of the virus’ spread was minimal. Hanebrink also stated that they are reducing the load of guests allowed in the Memorial Pool by half as a precaution. City administration is monitoring the situation closely, as this is only the third case to develop here during the COVID-19 pandemic. We applaud the safety precautions taken by the individual, and encourage our residents to stay safe.”

High school staffers will conduct a “Return to Learn” meeting today from 8 – 9 p.m. to discuss how the district will keep students safe from the coronavirus during the next school year.

“All BHS faculty/staff, parents and stakeholders are invited to attend,” Haskins said. “We will be discussing the challenges and opportunities for the 2020-2021 school year at BHS amid the coronavirus pandemic. We look forward to good discussion and community feedback.”