Parents start petition to stop testing of high school football players for COVID-19

A parent started a petition to stop the Orange County School District from testing high school football players for the coronavirus. 

Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) began testing its football players on Tuesday and will continue throughout the season on a biweekly basis. Greg Hatch started a petition to try and stop it.  

"The petition was a means of we as parents objecting to, in my opinion, to this government overreach," said Hatch. 

Hatch's son plays for Dr. Phillips High School. He doesn't think the district should be testing because he says it's unfair that football is the only sport with mandatory testing. He also believes false-positive results could make players miss games and take away scholarship opportunities. 

"They are possibly denying the kids of accumulating necessary game film to attract the attention of college recruiters," Hatch said. 

Hatch added that he also has privacy concerns. Parents need to sign consent forms to waive their child's HIPPA right for privacy so the test can be released to OCPS. 

"If you don't sign it, it waives your right to play football. And by signing it, it waives your right for patient protection," Hatch said. 

OCPS is testing students to try and stop the spread and keep students safe. The district is concerned about the spread between football players. The Orange County Superintendent spoke about the concerns in late August. 

"I want as safe as possible for our children to be able to participate, but I'm worried," said the Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins. "When we talk about the football team alone and the proximity they will be in from each other without face masks during the time on the football field then we know there is exposure."

If a student tests positive, they will need to quarantine for 10 days. parents cannot get a second test independently. 

"If my kid were feeling symptoms that are consistent with COVID I would rush him and have this test done," said Hatch. "But, to me, it's senseless when you could have a false positive and not have that corroborated." 

The rapid testing will cost the district up to $2M and will be covered by the CARES Act Grant. The district was not available for an interview Tuesday.