Clarification: COVID-19 Cases Among Football Players

During a press conference held Tuesday, April 20, 2021, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz mentioned that 3 football players from Gowanda Central School District played in a game against Alden Central School District with at least one student being symptomatic.

An article summarizing the press conference (with the byline of Sandra Tan and Jay Rey) published later April 20, 2021, by The Buffalo News states: “In Alden, after Superintendent Adam Stoltman refused to cancel the Bulldogs game Saturday, an Erie County Sheriff’s deputy rang his doorbell and served him with an order … to cancel the game, after some of the students were exposed to Covid-19-positive players from a Gowanda team. Poloncarz said three of the students tested positive, and one played with symptoms.”

Gowanda CSD is clarifying that at no point did a COVID-19 symptomatic Gowanda CSD athlete play in the April 12, 2021, game.

The following narrative is the situation as it unfolded with clarifying points:

The Gowanda CSD football team played Alden CSD on Monday, April 12, 2021. Two days later, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, a Varsity football player reported to his family that he had lost his sense of taste. This was 2 days after the game against Alden. His parents immediately took the player to be tested and, early that night, reported the positive results to the school. At the time of the report, the team was practicing. The practice was cut short and players were sent home and told to stay home from school on Thursday, April 15, to await contact tracing. On Wednesday, April 14, after practice, multiple players voluntarily received COVID tests. Two of these players tested positive on April 14, and remain asymptomatic.  The football team has remained in quarantine since Wednesday, April 14, with no additional cases reported. 

The family of the student who first tested positive has confirmed the player did NOT participate in the Alden game Monday, April 12, 2021, while symptomatic, nor have they communicated to anyone — including the New York State Department of Health — that he was symptomatic during the game. The player’s parents reported to the DOH that his symptoms began AFTER the game.

Gowanda CSD wishes to clarify an unfortunate and serious situation. The health and safety of our students is the No. 1 priority of Gowanda CSD. The district does not want to leave the public with the impression that it knowingly played COVID-19 positive or COVID-19 symptomatic athletes in a contest. To do so would jeopardize our players and students from other schools and potentially individuals beyond our campus. Gowanda CSD would never knowingly allow that to happen. Please be assured Gowanda CSD followed all protocols and procedures in cooperation with Alden CSD.

Please refer all questions on this matter to Robert B. Anderson, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools, 716-532-3325 (6300) or

Thank you.

Link to County Executive Press Conference 4.20.21 (discusses Gowanda at 43 minute mark)

Buffalo News 4.20.21 reporting the news conference (comments about football at the end)

Buffalo News 4.22.21 updated story 

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