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Kent County presents stricter COVID safety guidelines for high school basketball teams

Under new guidelines sent to teams last week, any player on either team who shares the court with a person who tests positive for COVID has to quarantine.

ROCKFORD, Mich. — Kent County is cracking down on COVID safety guidelines for high school basketball.

"We're seeing an alarming increase in the number of high school basketball players that were testing positive for COVID," says Joann Hoganson, the Community Wellness Director for the Kent County Health Department.  "Athletes that are face-to-face, they're very close, they're breathing hard because they're exercising."

Under new guidelines sent to teams last week, any player on either team who shares the court with a person who tests positive for COVID has to quarantine. With state tournaments about to start, that could potentially end a team's season early.

"If we didn't do that, we were afraid that we would have such outbreaks in the high schools that the entire school might have to go virtual again," says Hoganson. "And that would be a real loss for everybody."

Some teams chose not to take the risk. NorthPointe Christian, Wyoming and Forest Hills Central all canceled games over the weekend.

The Rockford boys team had its first game Tuesday night since those rules were announced. Head coach Kyle Clough says he never had any doubt about getting the game in.

"Not tonight, we had too much respect for West Ottawa and the rest of our league that we didn't want to belly out on this thing, that wouldn't have been the right move," says Clough.

The rules only impact Kent County schools, so the Rams and West Ottawa were playing under two separate sets of guidelines. Rockford won the game and the OK Red conference title, and now hopes it will be able to play its tournament games.

"This whole year has been a little bit of a risk, we all understand that, but we're not going to quit playing," says Clough. "I know some people have decided that, and I appreciate what they want to do, but our guys have been dying to get these chances to play. So we're going to play every game we get a chance to for the rest of the year and if we get cut short because of something, then so be it."

Rockford has one more game in the regular season and Clough says his team intends to play it.

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