ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Greg Hatch’s son left home Tuesday morning to go get a rapid coronavirus test done at Dr. Phillip’s High School in order to play on the football field Thursday night.
Hatch created a petition against the district’s move to rapid test all of its football players, telling News 6 he feels it is an overreach of his son’s rights.
“My goal with this petition is to not be silent and raise awareness that in my opinion, what is going on is wrong,” Hatch said Tuesday. “I was told it is not optional, if your kid wants to play football they either have to be tested or they can’t take the field.”
The petition, available here, is addressed to Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins, district leaders and its school board members. The petition’s garnered more than 600 signatures since the weekend.
It reads in part, “Tell our elected OCPS Executive Leadership and Board Members we object to implementing safety measures that require the waiving our Constitutional HIPAA rights by requiring mandatory COVID testing as a condition of play.”
Hatch spoke to News 6 after his son got tested Tuesday.
“My son went this morning at 7 a.m. and he was back to the house within an hour and shortly thereafter, I started to receive text messages from parents talking about the results with their sons,” Hatch said. “All of the kids on campus are sharing their results, so you can’t tell me that patient privacy is protected with all of this.”
Hatch said his son, who is a senior at Dr. Phillips High School, is already committed to play football at Harvard University but is concerned for those students who are juniors who might have to miss out on two of the crucial seven games due to a test result.
“Who I am really concerned with are those players who have created enough film to catch the attention of the college recruiters, we didn’t have spring football and now in the possibility of a false test, they might not have fall, or if they do they are going to have limited film,” Hatch added.
Hatch also didn’t understand why the district was only implementing rapid testing for the season for football teams only.
“Why is it just football? Why isn’t it other sports?” he asked.
Orange County Public Schools said Tuesday they do not respond to petitions.
However, in an email spokesperson Michael Ollendorf said, “Due to the close high-contact nature of football creating the most exposure for students, the decision was made to test those athletes. In an effort to further prevent the transfer of infection from school to school during games, the School Board has approved rapid COVID-19 testing for student athletes, coaches and training staff.”
Jenkins in an interview last week explained further.
“I would never say to parents, ‘One group is more important to be tested than another.’ Any parent can have their child tested if they’re interested in it, through the Department of Health provisions at various sites. The issue with our football players is that they are the most exposed, it’s a high-contact sport, they don’t wear facemasks,” Jenkins said.
The testing will continue on Wednesday and Thursday and then every other week until the end of the 10-week season. As of Tuesday afternoon, the district was unable to report if any football players tested positive as a result of the rapid testing.