As Friday night lights return, teams navigate COVID-19 protocols, mitigation efforts

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The return of high school football brings excitement, but also cautious optimism that a full season can be completed in the midst of continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One Burlington High School football player tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Aug. 18. According to the district, coaches canceled practice to take time to identify any close contacts. 19 players met the close contact criteria. Only three of those were vaccinated for COVID-19. 16 student athletes will quarantine until at least August 25.

The school's football game against Greenfield Whitnall was set to go on as scheduled on Friday, Aug. 20.

At Catholic Memorial, student athletes have also had to navigate protocols and mitigation efforts.

"All guys struggle with it because we all just want to go out there and have fun," Catholic Memorial senior and wide receiver William Beres said in an interview.

While the team has faced challenges with COVID, Beres said his team was up for it.

"We've all done a really good job of just following the rules," Beres said. "Being smart and doing what we have to do to make sure that everyone can stay safe and be on the field."

School officials said they have increased efforts to prevent spread of the virus and make sure student athletes can continue to be in class and on the field.

"We've done a lot more sanitizing, we've increased a lot of those types of things, cleaning the weight rooms and locker rooms and things like that, so that's all been a positive," Catholic Memorial athletic director Matt Bergan told CBS 58. "We feel good about the policies we have in place, and so far this year things have gone really well."

WIAA leaders have left COVID protocol decisions up to schools. But they urge schools to follow guidance from local health leaders in order to maintain a healthy and complete season.

"I think that they, the schools, have to follow the direction of the health professionals," WIAA assistant director Tom Shafranski said. "All of these steps can really help teams continue on with their season and fulfill their dreams."

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