Vaccinated Athletes Save Hayden High School Sport Season

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As both a principal and superintendent, I received the call I feared the most this past Friday afternoon. Yes, Mr. Gregorich, one of your student athletes tested positive for COVID-19. At that time a lot of things are going through my head. What do we need to do next? How many students will I need to quarantine? Do we need to cancel the games?

  I know how much my students are looking forward to playing and canceling a game can risk making it to the post season. It would be devastating to our athletes that have waited so long to play. I know how important sports are to our students and parents in rural Arizona.

  With that said, I want to give special thanks to our Hayden High School student athletes and parents who were vaccinated, which allowed this past Friday night games to be played and may have saved our post season dreams. The good news is that our students that are vaccinated can continue athletics without being quarantined. It sure made a difference this weekend and will allow us to continue our fall sport season. 

  So far this year, Hayden High School had been spared from COVID-19. I can’t say that anymore. I knew it was a matter of time with the COVID-19 positivity rate in our county and community. Friday afternoon I received the call that set-in motion lots of phone calls to some very disappointed players and parents.

  The district school medical assistant, Marisa Gallego’s work begins when a positive case was reported to the school and the wheels are set in motion. She contacts the county COVID-19 contract tracing team to determine which students must be quarantined and how long they will need to isolate. The team reviews classroom seating charts to determine who is in close contact with the student that tested positive and who will need to be quarantined. The district mitigation plan follows the Gila County Health Services, CDC, and AIA COVID-19 guidance.

  The district is a certified COVID-19 rapid testing site which is an effective tool to fight COVID-19. We have tested many students, staff, and community members over the past six months, which has saved time and prevented further COVID-19 exposure.

  I know there is fear about the vaccination because of misled politicians and misinformation campaigns. Please, listen to the medical experts that say without a doubt, that the COVID-19 vaccine can prevent infection, reduce the risk of severe illness and death. As a school leader, I highly recommend and encourage all students, staff, parents, and community members to be vaccinated as soon as possible to keep our students in school and our athletes on the field.

  We are hosting our seventh onsite COVID-19 clinic on Wednesday, Sept. 29, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The vaccination is available FREE to all school age children 12 and older. Parents must be present with children under 18 years of age.  For a reservation, please contact Gila County Health Services at 928-910-4009.

Article written by Jeff Gregorich, Superintendent of Hayden-Winkelman Unified School District.

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