Panther Stadium

Panther stadium will be empty for a while after DHS football activities were suspended following eight positive COVID-19 cases being identified on the team.

Derby Public Schools has identified an additional eight COVID-19 cases inside Derby High School. At least eight of those cases are tied to the football program, bringing the total to 10. 

With guidance from the Sedgwick County Health Department, the news prompted the district to suspend all football-related activities indefinitely (only at the high school). That includes the Sept. 25 home opener against Salina South. Homecoming activities are also off, but will be rescheduled.

“This [decision] is following the Sedgwick County Health Department’s strong recommendation of suspending all football-related activities for the immediate future while close contact tracing and necessary next steps are completed,” the district said in a statement. 

At this time, the Sedgwick County Health Department is continuing to investigate COVID-19 cases at Derby High School.

The suspension of football comes four days after first identifying two cases, putting 300 students in a temporary quarantine. A total of 94 students remained in quarantine on Monday following contact tracing by the Sedgwick County Health Department. That initial decision allowed the varsity football game against Salina South to still be played.

The only games that were cancelled on the day of the first quarantine were freshman and JV football games against Bishop Carroll. 

“The health department erred on the side of caution on Monday to decide who the close contacts were,” USD 260 communications director Katie Carlson said. “… They had to definitively clear other students until there are other positive cases that would require further contact tracing.”

As of 12:00 p.m. on Friday, there are 18 cases identified through Derby Public Schools. That includes four in middle schools (all students) and four in the elementary schools (three staff, one student). The district does not state which buildings these cases are coming from. 

Sources also indicated that Thursday night’s freshman volleyball quad was cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 test on the team.

Carlson reiterated that all quarantine notices and contact tracing is done through the health department. It also clears students on when they are allowed to go back to school. 

“We can help assist them in relaying information on their behalf,” she said. “It is not our authority or decision on who quarantines.” 

While no official decision has been made about changing learning models, the newest influx of cases will be presented to the USD 260 gating committee on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 1:00 p.m.

“I’m confident that this data and this information will be a part of that meeting,” Carlson said. “The number of cases will be a topic of conversation at that meeting. Additionally, we’ll work with the health department if we need to make a change sooner than that.”

The district recently made a change to its coronavirus case reporting process. At the Derby Board of Education’s Sept. 14 meeting, USD 260 Superintendent Heather Bohaty presented an update on the process when a student is COVID-19 positive. Initially, the district’s plan was to only notify individuals who were close contacts of the student. That notification has now been broadened. Individual close contacts are still notified, but now the entire class that the COVID-19-positive student was in will also receive notification. The Sedgwick County Health Department recommended that change be made.

Stay tuned to derbyinformer.com for additional details on this developing story.

The full district statement is below. 

Due to an increase in additional positive cases of COVID-19 at Derby High School, Derby Public Schools is suspending all football-related activities at Derby High School. This is following the Sedgwick County Health Department’s strong recommendation of suspending all football-related activities for the immediate future while close contact tracing and necessary next steps are completed. Tonight’s Homecoming festivities have been canceled and will be rescheduled. This is a joint decision with Salina Public Schools. A date has not been determined at this point when football may resume. If you have already purchased tickets, they may be used at a future date. At this time, Derby High School has eight positive cases related to football. 

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