Haines resident tests COVID-19 positive while traveling with student basketball teams

A ferry at a dock with a mountain in the background at twilight
The M/V LeConte ferry docks in Haines in 2018. (Berett Wilber/KHNS)

An individual traveling with Haines High School basketball teams got tested for COVID-19 before departing for a series of away games earlier this week. The positive result of the test came after the girls and boys teams competed in Craig on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Haines Glacier Bears were scheduled to travel to Craig and then on to Wrangell this week for a series of basketball games.

Haines School Superintendent Roy Getchell said everyone making the trip was tested for COVID-19 on Monday before getting on the ferry and heading out of town.

“We have a weekly testing protocol,” Getchell said. “We do that as a mitigation for activities, and for travel also. So we test every Monday, and then the results come back whenever they’re processed.”

Getchell said after basketball teams competed in Craig they were scheduled to play in Wrangell. Those games were cancelled after an active case of COVID-19 was identified in that community.

Then, on Thursday, Getchell was notified one of the people traveling with the Haines basketball teams tested positive for COVID-19.

“This did not occur because of travel, but it was identified because of our travel protocol. If we had not tested and we weren’t doing that on a weekly basis, this could have gone undetected, and we hadn’t traveled yet,” Getchell said.

Getchell wouldn’t say if the individual was a student or not. State public health officials completed a contact tracing investigation and notified all close contacts.

According to Craig City School Superintendent Chris Reitan officials did not find any of the school’s athletes, staff or community members had direct contact with the person from Haines who tested positive. Craig High School switched to distance learning on Friday to allow the district to sanitize the building and determine if any students or staff members develop COVID-19 symptoms.

Getchell, the Haines School Superintendent, said student athletes and their group who would return to Haines by chartered plane Friday afternoon. The close contacts of the individual who tested positive will quarantine upon arrival.

The Haines School continued with in-person classes on Friday. Getchell said public health officials and the school’s health advisory committee determined it was not necessary to close the building.

“Luckily, there was not any contact with the school during the contagious period. The people who’ve been identified to quarantine are already not in the school, so that’s why that decision was made,” Getchell said.

According to Getchell, school staff will receive a regularly scheduled COVID-19 test on Tuesday. Close contacts of the individual who tested positive will also be tested later in the week.