West Orange football plays despite campus closing due to COVID-19

Last week Orange County school district temporarily closed West Orange High School and pivoted students to online learning

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – There was concern the West Orange High School vs. Boone High School football game would not happen.

Last week Orange County school district temporarily closed West Orange High School and pivoted students to online learning.

District leaders announced 10 people at the high school tested positive for COVID-19, and 158 were told to quarantine and banned extra-curricular activities.

Eric Schwalbach has a son who plays on West Orange’s football team and he said when the district initially canceled the game his son was devastated.

“The first thing I had to do was stop him from crying because he was so upset, it wasn’t just one game,” Schwalbach said.

Days after the football game was canceled the district made an about-face after consultation with the Florida department of health. OCPS issued a statement and cleared the West Orange High School football team to play against Boone high school.

Schwalbach said it was a fair decision because the entire team has been in LaunchEd or cohorts and tested negative. The call came after a quarantined adult who came in contact with West Orange players tested negative.

“We just wanted to resolve that, we like this quarantine thing because it makes sure our kids aren’t affected by the rest of the campus,” Schwalbach said.

While West Orange High School is temporarily closed the district released a video of the custodial staff sanitizing the building before they welcome students back into classrooms on October 1st.

Boone High School parent Rebecca Weber attended the game and said she had mixed feelings.

“Nothing feels exactly as it should feel it’s a little bit sad, the kids just want to play,” Weber said.

Weber said the precautions taken put her at ease.

“The entire team has tested negative so I’m very thrilled about that. I just want them to be safe and have fun,” Weber said.

The game was moved to Boone High School and West Orange high school students were not allowed to attend.

About the Author:

Nicky Zizaza is an Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 6 nightside team in December 2018. She is originally from Rwanda and she started her journalism career in the nation's capital.