MARTINS FERRY — More than 20 people must self-quarantine due to one confirmed case of COVID-19 and, as a result, the Martins Ferry High School volleyball team will not see action again prior to beginning Division III sectional play in a few weeks.
Martins Ferry City Schools Superintendent Jim Fogle announced Monday morning that, initially, upwards of 30 players and coaches had been quarantined after a member of the Purple Riders’ high school coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19. Belmont County Deputy Health Director Rob Sproul later revised that number down to 21, saying that a staff member who had been in contact with nine students had tested negative.
“We found out about it Sunday morning and have been working with the Belmont County Health Department and their contact tracers since then,” Fogle said.
Some of those players and coaches included a group of eighth-graders who had taken part in a “voluntary” practice with the high school team on Saturday morning. However, Fogle texted Monday evening that the eight, eighth grade team members had been removed from the quarantine list “due to a negative test of a person that would’ve been their contact.” The seventh grade team was never impacted.
Fogle indicated that the entire high school team is quarantined because of the infected coach’s interaction with the players. That coach was not present for the weekend practice, according to Fogle.
“Once the 14-day quarantine is up, everyone — players and coaches — are back and life, so to speak, gets back to normal,” Fogle said.
A handful of other people who are not affiliated with the Martins Ferry volleyball program or school district also are quarantined due to contact with the infected individual. Sproul said this group consists of five people.
The Purple Riders were scheduled to play at Wheeling Central on Monday, but that game was canceled. Next week, Ferry was expected to take part in the consolation portion of the OVAC Tournament, but will not be able to due to the quarantine.
Thus, with the end of the regular season quickly approaching, the Riders could return to the floor as early as Oct. 15 for practice. There are two Division III play-in games for the sectional tournament slated for Oct. 17, but the official bracket won’t be set until Sunday afternoon.
The last time the Purple Riders played a game was Sept. 30. The team had a match originally scheduled against River on Oct. 1, but the Pilots requested that game be moved due to a scheduling conflict.
Since potential exposure to COVID-19 is limited to the volleyball program, no other fall sports at Martins Ferry are affected and Fogle said the school remains open for in-person learning five days a week.
Martins Ferry already has dealt with a COVID-19 case within its athletic department. In June, a Purple Rider student-athlete tested positive for the coronavirus, which led to the school shutting down its summer conditioning program for two weeks.
Wheeling Park had its volleyball team shut down due to a COVID-19 related incident last month. Toronto and Caldwell also had coaches in their volleyball programs receive positive test results earlier this season.
In Belmont County, Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul reported that 91 people took part in the pop-up testing that was offered at Ohio University Eastern in St. Clairsville on Saturday.
Sproul also updated the Belmont County COVID-19 case numbers. There have been 755 positive cases in the county since the pandemic arrived in March, but 697 patients have recovered. There are 31 residents who are actively infected with the virus and in isolation at home, two currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 25 residents who have died while infected with the virus.
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