High school football coaches across Williamson County have pointed to Week 5 of the season fearfully all year, estimating Sept. 18 as the time when COVID-19 related issues could most likely create problems.
The coaches may now be considered soothsayers, as Williamson County Schools has announced the closing of Fairview High School for two weeks, including cancelling football games and all other extracurricular activities.
Carol Birdsong, communications director for Williamson County Schools, broke the news to school families through the WCS phone notification system Tuesday night, citing the Williamson County Health Department’s quarantining of 36% of the student population and 14% of the teachers and staff. The district reported 28 positive COVID-19 cases at the school.
"For the first time, the health department has asked us to close a campus based on the spread of the virus in one of our schools," a WCS statement reads. "Getting us back on campus is going to take the entire school community doing what it can to stop the spread of the virus by following those health department restrictions. We are in daily communication with the health department, and we are hopeful that conditions improve in the Fairview community so we can get back to on-campus learning and activities as soon as possible."
The decision to close extends the school’s inactivity after being closed on Monday and Tuesday for, “deep cleaning.” On Friday, the school was closed indefinitely because attendance was at 67%, school officials announced.
The closing means there will be no high school athletics, including football, at Fairview for the next two weeks. The Yellow Jackets, ranked No. 5 in the latest Class 3A Associated Press poll, were scheduled to travel to Sycamore (0-4, 0-1) for a Region 6-3A matchup Friday before hosting Greenbrier in a non-league contest on Sept. 25. Their Week 4 football game against non-league rival Waverly Central was canceled Friday.
Both Fairview and Sycamore have open dates Oct. 16 that could serve as a make-up date for the regional game, but Sycamore has declined to reschedule, opting instead to take a 1-0 win this Friday.
The loss will go down as the Yellow Jackets' first region loss in five years. Fairview has beaten Sycamore each of the last five years by an average of 20 points.
One Fairview parent, whose child is an athlete, said their child was already under a confusing quarantine when the word of the closure was delivered.
“[The child] was sent home from school last Monday, supposedly by the Williamson County Health Department," the parent said, declining to use her name. "When I called Tuesday, the Health Department didn’t even have their name and told me to call Williamson County Schools. WCS sent me back to the Health Department. I bounced around for days to get information.”
Though the first school completely shut down, Fairview is not the first to feel the wrath of COVID-19 within the county.
According to a Brentwood parent close to the soccer program, the Lady Bruins' soccer match with Ravenwood, a rematch of last year’s Class AAA state title game won by the Lady Raptors, was postponed last week due to a large number of Brentwood players being quarantined. The Lady Bruins limped through a match a against Franklin prior using a number of junior varsity players before ultimately postponing matches.
"Like a lot of teams all over the nation, our team has faced a lot of adversity this year," Brentwood coach Maggie McLaughlin said in an email last week. "We currently have a significant number of players out for various reasons ... We are expecting the team to be back at full strength next week and are looking forward to continuing our season."
Tuesday night, a depleted Brentwood volleyball team, the seven-time defending Class AAA state champions, managed to defeat archrival Ravenwood 3-2 on the road. The Lady Bruins are missing four varsity players and one JV due to quarantine.
Similar instances at county schools have also been reported.