CHELSEA – A joint email from the Chelsea School District and Washtenaw County Health Department has asked for assistance from the community to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has affected reopening plans and athletics programs in Chelsea.
The email written by CSD Julie Helber and WCHD health officer Jimena Loveluck stated that multiple COVID-19 cases were linked to teams within the Chelsea athletics department and that activities involving the teams impacted by the exposure had been suspended.
“The Chelsea School District cannot proceed with reopening plans or continue athletic programs if we cannot prevent cases to the greatest degree possible and respond quickly and appropriately to all identified cases,” the email read.
The email also stated the school district has been in close contact with WCHD and the health department didn’t fully suspect the athletic activities as the reason for the exposure, rather social gatherings such as “parties” and other “non-athletic related” events involving students as the likely culprit.
“These interactions are most likely to blame for the spread of cases,” the email read. “Countywide this is a repeating trend. COVID-19 exposures are more often related to parties and social events and less likely to be related to official events carried out with appropriate distancing, face coverings and frequent hand cleaning.”
MLive reported Thursday, Aug. 20, that all three levels of the Chelsea volleyball program had suspended practices after a person involved with the varsity team tested positive for the virus.
Chelsea athletic director Brad Bush said only the volleyball team has had athletic activities suspended at this time and that the department is following all guidelines from the Washtenaw County Health Department.
A message seeking comment Monday afternoon was left with Chelsea assistant superintendent Marcus Kaemming.
Susan Ringler Cerniglia, Public Information Officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department, told MLive Thursday that the health department follows up with individuals who test positive and anyone who they may have had close contact with, but they typically don’t specify locations of positive tests due to privacy reasons, unless there’s known public exposure.
Chelsea’s situation is similar to many schools throughout the state that have had athletic programs affected by COVID-19 exposures.
Clinton Community Schools, Muskegon-Oakridge, Ferndale, Utica, Utica Ford, Utica Eisenhower and Birmingham Seaholm where COVID-19 impacted athletic events earlier this month.
Clarkston, Rochester Adams, Dearborn High and Brooklyn Columbia Central, Portage Northern, Portage Central, South Lyon and Richmond also had athletic activities canceled throughout the summer.
In Washtenaw County, a large house party in the Saline area was linked to a outbreak in July.
Ann Arbor Huron postponed in-person workouts for its girls basketball and field hockey teams and the Dexter Little League baseball, softball and youth football programs were also impacted by positive COVID-19 tests.
On Friday, Aug. 14, the Michigan High School Athletics Association postponed football until the spring due to the pandemic, but announced last Thursday cross country, girls golf and boys tennis would be able to proceed as normal throughout the state.
The organization also said that all sports in Region 6 (northern Lower Peninsula) and Region 8 (Upper Peninsula) in Michigan were a go, but the fate of boys soccer, volleyball and girls swimming and diving throughout the rest of the state was still on hold.
Regions 6 and 8 are categorized as being in Phase 5 as part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan Roadmap.
Michigan health department officials reported 868 new cases of coronavirus and four new deaths on Monday.
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