HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Two Horry County high school volleyball teams are currently quarantined after a player tested positive for COVID-19, according to the district.
Horry County Schools spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said Loris High School’s volleyball team played the St. James High team in a non-region match on Oct. 15.
The next day, a member of the St. James High volleyball team received a positive COVID-19 test result from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, according to Bourcier.
Based on a DHEC recommendation, both volleyball teams were quarantined for 14 days, Bourcier said via email.
It’s causing some confusion and shock to some Horry County parents, who said they don’t understand why all members of both teams have to quarantine.
“That ball, every time it changes sides, they clean the ball, they spray the ball down,” said Stacy Oakley, who has a daughter on the Loris volleyball team. “As far as we’ve been told, you catch COVID within 6 feet. As far as I’m concerned, that player [who tested positive on St. James] was nowhere closer to our girls than the fans in the stands. That’s what’s really upsetting to us. Our girls should not be in quarantine."
Oakley said the day after the match, she received a call from the school’s athletic director, stating one of the St. James players tested positive for the virus. Later, she received a letter from DHEC, stating her child had been in close contact with another person who tested positive for the virus.
Instead of playing a final game that could have led to a playoff run, Oakley said her daughter and the rest of the team are at home under quarantine for 14 days.
Oakley is also questioning how the quarantine procedures are being handled, stating she was first told the team was required for 10 days.
She added that she doesn’t feel the quarantine procedures are being handled fairly, referencing how the St. James High School’s JV football team didn’t immediately quarantine their football team after learning about two confirmed COVID cases for their players. The volleyball game occurred on the same day two St. James JV football players received positive COVID-19 tests.
“The first email with a letter [attached was intended for] the JV [football team for St. James] because they were in quarantine,” said Oakley. “So the wrong letter went out to us with the wrong date, so here we are getting our hopes up again because the date on the letter was sooner than the playoff games, so we thought we could play. It’s super frustrating for our girls because most of them are seniors.”
Oakley also said she is a bit troubled about how DHEC and the school district are communicating with families about the COVID cases. She referenced the first email she says her family received about a confirmed COVID case, stating the case mentioned in the letter didn’t involve the volleyball match for Loris.
The day after the game, an athletic team staff member who works with the JV football team tested positive for the virus. Because this was the third person associated with the team to test positive within 14 days, it triggered an automatic exclusion of the entire JV football team from the school and any school events for the next two weeks.
Oakley said she wants more clarification from DHEC about the quarantine requirements for athletes, to ensure the protocols are consistent across the board. She also wants state health officials and the school district to create a way for parents to get their concerns and questions answered directly, over the phone, in a timely fashion.
“They need to have a direct line of communication, someone parents can reach out to,” said Oakley. “Somebody needs to write out clear in black and white, whether it’s 10 days [quarantine] or 14 days. I don’t' think there’s consistency. Why the [volleyball player from St. James] barely played any time and we’re being quarantined, I don’t understand it at all as a parent. And we’re not getting any answers. It’s unfair."
WMBF News has reached out to DHEC by phone and email, addressing these concerns. We’re waiting for a response.