Horry County Schools responds to questions around St. James High’s JV football team COVID-19 cases


HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – The Sumter High School Junior Varsity football team is under quarantine after playing against St. James on Thursday.

According to the athletic schedule on Sumter High School’s website, Sumter High School’s JV team played against Saint James High School’s JV team that day.

According to a post on Sumter School District’s Facebook, players on St. James’ team tested positive for COVID-19, but Sumter high school claims they were not told of the positive cases prior to the game.

“Unfortunately, when the St. James High School junior varsity football team competed at Sumter High School Thursday, school officials were not notified about positive COVID-19 cases on the opposing team,” The Facebook post said. “Our administrators and coaches have worked diligently to ensure our safety procedures are followed. While we are deeply concerned regarding the manner in which this matter unfolded, our top priority is to ensure the safety and well being of our students and staff.”

However, Horry County Schools officials say coaches and athletic officials with Sumter High were notified.

Below is a timeline of events as they happened provided by Horry County Schools:

Oct. 12 & 13
SJHS JV football players participated in practice at SJHS on Monday, October 12; Tuesday, October 13; and Wednesday, October 14.

Oct. 14
On the morning of Wednesday, October 14, one JV football player reported to the SJHS school nurse that he was not feeling well. The SJHS school nurse informed the student and his parents that since he had described flu-like symptoms he would have to be excluded from school and any school events for 10-days.

The other JV player was not feeling well later that afternoon and the SJHS school nurse informed the student and his parents that since he had described flu-like symptoms, he would have to be excluded from school and any school events for 10-days. 

Oct. 15
The two JV players received their SCDHEC-confirmed positive COVID-19 test results on Thursday, October 15. The last time they were in contact with their team was on Tuesday, October 13.

SCDHEC, who was consulted with every step, determined that the JV football game could continue between SJHS and Sumter High School. The two SCDHEC-confirmed positive students began their quarantine on this day and did NOT attend or participate in the game against Sumter. 

Prior to the beginning of the game, the SJHS coaching staff did notify Sumter coaches, Sumter athletic officials, and game referees/officiants regarding the positive SJHS players and SCDHEC’s determination that the game could continue as originally scheduled. 

October 16
It was reported to SCDHEC on Friday, October 16, an athletic team staff member who works with the JV football program tested positive for COVID-19. This positive test result triggered an automatic exclusion of the entire JV football team from the school and any school events, as determined by SCDHEC. According to recent guidance by SCDHEC, if three members of a cohort (classroom, team, etc.) test positive within 14-days of each other, the entire cohort must be excluded from school and any school events for 14-days. 

***According to SCDHEC, this third positive case is what triggered the required exclusion of the JV football team members from the school and any school events. Thereafter, these students and their respective parents received notice of their exclusion.

Horry County Schools officials also reported as of Monday morning, no other SJHS JV team members have exhibited flu-like symptoms or have tested positive.

Sumter school district officials sent parents a letter Sunday, informing them a player from Thursday’s game had tested positive before the teams played on Thursday.  

The letter said it is important for parents to be aware of the symptoms and to monitor their children closely.

“After consulting with our nurses and out of an abundance of caution, all JV football players are being placed on quarantine,” the letter said. “Although most children do not get severely ill with COVID-19, it is important that steps be taken to prevent further spread and ensure the safety of those who might be at risk of a serious infection.”

The Sumter High School team was told that the game was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test, according to a player who asked for his name to not be used. The team was then told that it was a misunderstanding, and that they were going to play.

“Now, families of the team are scared because of the simple fact they don’t know who has it,” the player said. 

Players initially said they weren’t playing, he said, and the team doesn’t know why they were told it was all a misunderstanding.

The team was tested for COVID-19 on Monday. None of the players have felt sick, according to the student.

The district is asking parents to test their students if they showed symptoms after Oct. 21. Students who have symptoms must complete a two-week quarantine even if they tested negative.


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