by Kevin Cody
One-half of freshman, junior varsity and varsity boys basketball players at Redondo Union High School — 22 of 45 players, and one basketball coach — have tested positive for COVID-19. All of the cases were mild or asymptomatic, and most of the players have returned to campus. But team practices and games have been suspended indefinitely, Redondo Union High Principal Jens Brandt said Wednesday.
The first player known to have tested positive reported his condition to the school on Thursday, April 1, during the week before the start of spring break. Students were not attending class at the time, but student athletes were allowed on campus to practice outdoors.
The second player to report testing positive notified the school on April 2, the day basketball practice began. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health had approved indoor sports to resume on April 1.
Basketball practices were suspended Friday, April 9, after more basketball players tested positive. The last positive test of a player was reported Saturday April 17, according to Principal Brandt.
Brandt said the source of the contagion was unknown, but that the basketball teams were following county safety protocols.
In compliance with county protocols, the basketball players who did not test positive were required to be quarantined for 10 days, and receive a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus. Players who tested positive were also required to be quarantined for 10 days, and to be symptom free for 24 hours before being allowed back on campus. They were not required to show negative tests because COVID-19 patients may test positive for several months after recovering from the disease.
Brandt said only student athletes were on campus during spring break. Redondo’s boys and girls volleyball teams were also practicing in the two gyms used by the basketball teams, but at different times, he said. None of them have tested positive for COVID-19, he said.
Brandt said athletes participating in other school sports have also tested positive for COVID-19, but declined to say when, or which teams. He said those cases were not widespread enough to require team practices or games to be cancelled.
In an email to basketball team parents, sent Wednesday, April 21, Brandt said the school presently has 27 student athletes with positive COVID-19 test results. That number does not include student athletes who have recovered from COVID-19.
Redondo’s 2,200 students returned to campus at the end of spring break for the first time since the start of the pandemic, over one year ago. Half of the students attend classes Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The other half attend Thursdays and Fridays. Classes are from 7:55 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. Next week, all students will attend half day classes on campus, Tuesday through Friday. Monday classes will continue to be online. About 70 percent of the student body has returned to on campus learning, Brandt said.
Prior to coming to school students are required to complete an online COVID-19 “symptoms assessment,” developed by the Beach Cities Health District. Additionally, student athletes are required to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. Testing is offered at the health district.
Brandt said the COVID-19 outbreak was a reminder that pandemic protocols, including distancing, mask wearing and sanitizing, need to be strictly followed. But he said overall, the return to oncampus instruction has gone well.
On Monday, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer disclosed that county schools have reported five COVID-19 outbreaks, all involving sports teams. In addition to Redondo, she said, there were three team outbreaks in Santa Clarita and one in Agoura.
“Students are pretty safe in schools as long as the safety protocols are followed,” she said. ER