COVID-19 outbreak cancels Bennett-McQuaid football game last minute

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — McQuaid and Bennett high schools will have to wait for another day to play their regional final game, due to a COVID breakout within the McQuaid football team.

The Knights learned of the postponement while boarding the buses to depart for the game.

In statement from McQuaid, throughout the week, several members of the team tested positive for COVID, forcing the team go under a 72 hour pause for contact tracing.

In the statement, a spokesperson says they were “prepared to proceed with tonight’s game after ensuring a healthy and safe outdoor environment for all in accordance with recommendations from health officials.”

The statement says with guidance from the Monroe County Department of Health, they tested all players and coaches for three consecutive days beginning Thursday morning.

“Testing did result in several more positive cases which have been reported to the Department of Public Health, any members of the program who tested positive were immediately required to isolate,” the statement reads.

On Friday evening, the Erie County Department of Health said they would only allow vaccinated McQuaid players and coaches to play in the Regional Final. But this afternoon, McQuaid was awarded a temporary restraining order from the Erie County Supreme Court in order to play the game.

As students were about to depart, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association stepped in and ruled the game must be postponed until a full court hearing can be held in the next few days.

The full statement:

“This afternoon we were informed by Robert Zayas, the executive director of the New York Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) that tonight’s New York State Regional Final game would be postponed. This postponement comes after the Honorable Marc A. Montour of Erie County Supreme Court awarded McQuaid Jesuit a temporary restraining order against the Erie County Department of Health this afternoon. On Friday evening, the Erie County Department of Health indicated it would only permit vaccinated McQuaid Jesuit players, coaches, and managers to compete in the Regional Final because some players and an assistant coach tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. The game was scheduled to be played in Williamsville, located in Erie County. Per McQuaid Jesuit’s protocols, the varsity football team was placed on a 72-hour pause for contact practice, effective the evening of Tuesday, November 16, after two members of the team tested positive for COVID-19.

With guidance received from the Monroe County Department of Public Health, McQuaid Jesuit tested all players and coaches for three consecutive days beginning Thursday morning. All players and coaches, whether vaccinated or not, were tested Thursday, Friday, and again this morning with negative tests each day required to participate tonight. Testing did result in several more positive cases which have been reported to the Department of Public Health. Any members of the program who tested positive were immediately required to isolate. McQuaid Jesuit’s COVID-19 data is publicly available at the NYS COVID-19 School Report Card website.

Throughout the testing process, McQuaid Jesuit leadership was in regular communication with the Monroe County Department of Public Health, Section V officials, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, and our counterparts at the Buffalo Public School district. We were prepared to proceed with tonight’s game after ensuring a healthy and safe outdoor environment for all in accordance with recommendations from health officials. McQuaid Jesuit’s players and coaches learned of Zayas’s abrupt postponement while on the buses waiting to depart.

“All of us hope that we can allow our players to safely compete in a game they have worked so hard for,” added McQuaid Jesuit President, Fr. Phil Judge, S.J.  “We look forward to that opportunity in the near future.”

– McQuaid Jesuit High School

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said in a tweet, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, in consultation with the Erie County Department of Health and Monroe County Health Department, decided to postpone the game.

He said McQuaid “tried to force the game to be played by judicial order,” but NYSPHSAA ultimately decided to postpone until a court hearing could be had in the coming days.

The next day, Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash responded to the incident in the following statement:

“We have seen a highly disturbing precedent occur with the Bennett/McQuaid football contest case. To date, it does not embody a spirit of equity, fairness, and good sportsmanship. The game clearly should have been forfeited due to the significant Covid-19 outbreak on the McQuaid team. Health and safety must always be the first priority for everyone.

Neither BPS nor NYSPHSAA have been privy to the injunction documents allegedly filed with the Court. If this case is not heard tomorrow or Tuesday morning and properly resolved, we will call an urgent press conference and invite all relevant local and state authorities to stand with us.

This is fast unfolding as a racial injustice and inequity issue. I will not tolerate, under any circumstance, victimizing and discounting our student athletes when they have followed all the rules pursuant to this matter. As a District, we are fully prepared to take immediate appellate action to ensure a safe, fair, and just outcome.”

The game has been tentatively postponed until Tuesday.


Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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