COVID-19 Cases Delay Start of CBA Fall Sports by Two Weeks
Christian Brothers Academy Friday switched to remote learning for two weeks after three of its students tested positive for COVID-19, the school announced Thursday and as was first reported by NJ Advanced Media.
During the two-week shutdown - which ends with a return to in-person learning at the Lincroft campus on Friday, Oct. 9 - all extracurricular activities, including athletics, will be canceled and school staff and personnel will not be permitted to have any in-person contact with students.
The current protocol CBA is following is based on New Jersey Department of Health recommendations and requirements in the event of multiple positive tests, according to the statement released by President Brother Frank Byrne.
CBA was scheduled to open its fall sports game schedule on Oct. 1, with its soccer team traveling to play Long Branch in what would be a meeting between two of the Shore Conference's best teams heading into the 2020 season. In total, CBA's soccer team will have four games - two against Long Branch and two more against Middletown North - either postponed or canceled.
"We're trying to be preventative in our action, not reactive," Mazzaccaro said. "We're asking our students and their families to take the proper precautions and to do what they feel is best for them and their health so that we can make sure that when we come back in two weeks, we will have prevented a worse situation and we can continue to conduct in-person learning and after-school activities."
CBA boys soccer coach Tom Mulligan confirmed none of the players in his program were among the three students who tested positive for the coronavirus.
"(Thursday) was one of the most challenging days in my coaching career and I have been coaching for 34 years," Mulligan said "We have been dangling the carrot in front of them since July, telling them if they all followed the protocols and did what they're supposed to do, they are going to get a chance to play. It's tough to have rug pulled out from under us like this, even if it’s just temporary. We're hoping that everyone is healthy, we can get back in two weeks and maybe we'll go on to have some memorable moments this year and we can look back and say it was all worth it at the end."
Mulligan said he was informed of the shutdown before practice and was allowed to conduct practice before sending his team home for two weeks. He informed the team of the school's decision after practice.
"We tried to go through our normal routine so we didn't give the impression that anything was unusual," Mulligan said. "After a while, as coaches, we kind of realized what we were doing was almost pointless because we're going to lose the team for two weeks. So ultimately, we just tried to make practice as fun and energetic as possible to try to give the kids an upbeat feeling."
Mazzaccaro said he is working to reschedule as many of the canceled events as possible and one of the Middletown North soccer games has already been rescheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10 - one day after the CBA sports programs are permitted to return to practice.
"My goal is to keep as many events as possible," said Mazzaccaro, who is also the cross-country coach. "In a sport like cross country, it should be pretty easy to find the time to make up the dates. With soccer, it's a little more difficult, but fortunately, we're able to schedule two three-game weeks, which should help us make up at least three of the games."
By NJSIAA rules, teams are permitted to play no more than two three-game weeks, with weeks beginning on Monday and ending Sunday. If no other games on CBA's schedule are canceled, that would mean no more than three of the four postponed games could be made up.
"I have spoken with the other athletic directors and there is a mutual commitment to makin sure we help give the kids as many games as we can within the rules and guidelines we're all trying to follow," Mazzaccaro said.
The Shore Conference schedule pairs up divisional opponents to play two games per week against one another, with each team hosting one game. Mulligan said he would like to, at a minimum reschedule one game each vs. Long Branch and Middletown North before scheduling a second meeting against either team.
If the Colts do indeed open their season against Middletown North on Oct. 10, they will then follow with games on Oct. 13 and Oct. 15 against Class A North rival and defending A North division and Shore Conference Tournament champion Freehold Township.
"There's not much the kids can do for the next two weeks so who knows what kind of shape they are going to be in," Mulligan said. "We return to practice for the first time in two weeks on October 9th and then on October 10th, we're playing our season opener. It's going to be more like a scrimmage because there is no way we can ask kids to take two weeks off, practice once and then play 80 minutes. But, that's the situation and if we can make it to October 10th, we're going to be thrilled just to have an opportunity to play."
CBA was scheduled to play a scrimmage on Saturday against Ocean Township, which had its own COVID-19-related shutdown of its athletic program.
The shutdown of CBA also leaves Long Branch without an opponent in boys soccer for the Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Long Branch's girls soccer team will play Holmdel to open its season because both teams were given byes in their divisional schedule to start 2020. Holmdel's boys team is also on bye to open the season, so there is a natural fit for Holmdel and Long Branch to play sometime in the first three days of the season.
Long Branch coach Adrian Castro said he is currently seeking an opponent to play during the first three days of the season.
"We were really looking forward to playing them (CBA)," Castro said. "It's a huge game to open the season and we were ready. Are kids were looking forward to it. Hopefully we can find an opponent so we don't have to wait until Monday (Oct. 5) to start our season."