The Joliet West High School football field will not host a homecoming game for the second straight year, after nine football players recently tested positive for the coronavirus and 38 unvaccinated players who tested negative are in quarantine.
“I understand where parents are at and how devastated the kids are, but we’re still in the midst of a pandemic and we have to do everyone we can to keep our students and staff safe,” said Joliet Township High Schools Supt. Dr. Karla Guseman.
According to Guseman, the Will County Health Department notified the school district that it could no longer use the test-to-stay protocol and that all unvaccinated close contact individuals had to quarantine until Sept. 22.
Some parents said that the school needs a court order to enforce a quarantine. However, Guseman told NBC 5 the school ensures it is in compliance because the health department provides the school with the guidance to quarantine.
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Cayden Burger is a senior defensive lineman at Joliet West High School who said he plans to play football in college.
“I have two schools looking at me now,” Burger said. “That’s really what this is about because my grades, I’m trying to keep them up and it’s really hard to do that when you’re not in school and you’re not actually physically there learning.”
Joliet Central also cancelled its football game that was scheduled for Friday.
Parents also question what they call false positives with the school’s SHIELD testing. They said, for example, a student may test positive with the school’s method, but soon after test negative using another method.
“We need to come up with a better testing solution,” said Joliet West parent Joy Cemeno.
The district said it selected the SHIELD test due to its high accuracy and that guidance from the health department is that once a positive test is confirmed, you cannot reverse the isolation/quarantine period with a negative test.
The district said vaccinated players are able to attend school in-person and that the varsity football season is set to resume next week.