ONEONTA, Ala. (AP) — The entire football team and marching band at a small-town Alabama high school are under quarantine following exposure to the new coronavirus.
Oneonta High School coach Phil Phillips told WBMA-TV that a fifth player has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s the second quarantine of the summer for the team.
“I looked my wife in the eyes Monday night before I went to bed and I said, ‘You know I sure hope we didn’t kill anybody’s grandmother today by having a football practice,” said Phillips. “You’re torn because the kids want to play so bad.”
The team stopped summer workouts in late July after two coaches and four players tested positive for the coronavirus, which causes mild to moderate symptoms for most people but can be deadly to the elderly or people with other health problems.
Band director David Bearden said one of 135 students tested positive in his group, so a quarantine was needed.
“For me personally, I know that this is a big thing and it’s hurt a lot of people, but for me personally, I’m looking forward to a time when we can all get back together, the students back together and based on what I’ve seen from my students, they are needing that,” Bearden said.
The town of 6,600 people is located about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of Birmingham. The football team is set to resume practice on Aug. 18, just three days before its first game, and Phillips said a delay would be good since it will be tough to get players ready so quickly.
“I was hoping for more time, and I really think we’d gain so much and lose nothing,” he said.
Schools around the state are resuming classes with a variety of plans ranging from virtual teaching to traditional classrooms and a mix of the two.
The name of the television station Phillips spoke to has been corrected to WBMA-TV.