The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic hit home for the Canal Winchester football team in recent weeks, and while coach Josh Stratton is expected to return to work next week after testing positive but being asymptomatic, athletics director Pat Durbin said the program and school are working forward while learning lessons.

“We’ll continue to look at our communication dissemination,” Durbin said, acknowledging concern in the community about exposure and spread of the virus. “These are particularly challenging and difficult times. We’re literally developing checklists on an ongoing basis. The mandates (from the state) are exactly what we’ve done. I spent 32 years in the military and I am all about standard operating procedure. …

“All of that said, people are frightened and rightly so. (Coronavirus) is something we’ve never experienced.”

According to Durbin, Stratton tested positive for coronavirus June 20. He was tested after a close relative was diagnosed.

“That was the only reason (for the test),” Durbin said. “We let the Franklin County Board of Health know (June 22) and followed the mandates: isolate and report. They needed to know the people who had been in close contact 48 hours before the positive test, and that’s defined as being within less than six feet for greater than 15 minutes. Luckily, the number of individuals was minimal.”

Durbin wrote a memorandum to all football players, coaches and parents detailing the diagnosis that was shared on social media by the Canal Winchester Touchdown Club.

Practice was canceled June 22 but resumed the next day. The Indians have been holding voluntary conditioning and workouts since June 1.

Durbin emphasized that no players had tested positive as of July 1.

Two team mothers expressed concern to Spectrum News 1 that players and families may have been exposed during a team function June 18, but the Board of Health determined that one person met the criteria for having had close contact with Stratton.

Stratton declined to comment on testing positive for coronavirus.

Canal Winchester is scheduled to open the season Aug. 28 at Groveport.

In three seasons under Stratton, the Indians have gone 24-8 with two Division II playoff appearances, including last year, when they finished 9-2 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Capital Division to share the league championship with Groveport and New Albany. 

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave