KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — The TSSAA has decided to allow Dobyns-Bennett to advance to the third round of the football playoffs.
The decision comes after last Friday’s game between D-B and McMinn County was canceled due to concerns about a McMinn County player testing positive for COVID-19.
According to the TSSAA, the decision to call off the game was based on the judgment of Dr. Stephen May with the Sullivan County Health Department and Dr. Tim Jones, chief medical officer for the Tennessee Department of Health.
“Over the weekend, additional information that was not known to Dr. May and Dr. Jones at the time was brought to the attention of TSSAA by representatives of McMinn County High School,” TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress wrote in a letter to both schools’ principals. “The student athlete in question was taking virtual classes only and was only at the school in the afternoons for football practice. According to the McMinn County football coach, this player was ill at practice on Tuesday November 10 and was sent home and had not been around any other McMinn County players since that time. The student underwent testing for COVID-19 at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday November 12 and was informed that he had a positive result.”
However, according to Childress, the student has asthma and was examined by his doctor on Friday morning.
“His physician found that he had no stigmata consistent with COVID-19 and that his O2 saturation was 98 with no fever,” Childress wrote. “His COVID antibody test was negative for IgG. On this basis, the physician concluded that the student’s positive COVID test result on November 12 might be a false positive.”
Childress also said the player did not travel with the team to Dobyns-Bennett last Friday. Instead, he rode with his parents in a separate vehicle.
“When the team stopped for a team meal, the player and his parents ate in a separate part of the restaurant away from the team,” he wrote. “During that team meal the Coordinated School Health Supervisor informed the player that he would not be permitted to participate in the game.”
Childress said the TSSAA tried to find a way to hold a game between the two schools on Tuesday.
“After consultation with state health officials, we asked that McMinn County High School provide verification from the McMinn County Health Department attesting that the school has adequately performed the necessary contact tracing and ensured that any player other than the student in question with whom he had close contact in the 48 hours before he reported to practice ill on November 10 is quarantined and will not be participating in a game if played on November 17,” Childress wrote. “We informed school officials that we had to receive that verification on November 16 in order for the contest to go forward on November 17.”
According to Childress, the TSSAA did not receive the needed verification from the McMinn County Health Department.
“We therefore have no alternative but to call off the game and advance Dobyns-Bennett High School in the playoffs,” he wrote. “We have all known that in the time of this pandemic, something like this could occur; but we are sorry the players from the two schools will not get to play this contest. We appreciate all the efforts that representatives from both schools made to get us all the information we needed or requested and to deal with this difficult situation.”
The Indians will hit the road to face Maryville this Friday.