COVID-19 outbreak grows for Hill-Murray girls’ hockey after some kept playing with symptoms

The Hill-Murray School's girls' hockey team has been shut down until March 8, after three athletes on the team played games and attended class while experiencing COVID-19 symptoms last week, according to a letter signed by school leaders.

The letter stated the entire team was quarantined on Monday. At least two of the athletes had symptoms as early as Feb. 18, but continued to participate in hockey and school. The letter was sent on Wednesday to player's families. At that point, only three athletes had tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Friday, seven hockey players have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Andrew Skoogman, a communications representative for Hill-Murray. He said a total of 10 Hill-Murray students tested positive this week and about 90 students are in quarantine through March 2.

To help minimize the spread, Hill-Murray will have distance learning three days next week, Skoogman said. Some of the athletes are facing disciplinary action for breaking school policy.

"We value sports and clubs as part of our learning community, but the actions of a few students have impacted a larger portion of our school community and other communities and that is unacceptable," said Skoogman in a statement. "Moreover, we apologize for the impact our students’ decisions have had on other student athletes."

The ripple effect went beyond Hill-Murray. During the exposure period, Hill-Murray faced North St. Paul/Tartan and The Breck School.

North St. Paul/Tartan quarantined its girl's hockey team for two weeks and canceled five games, a district official confirmed.

The Breck School decided its team did not have to quarantine after consulting with its COVID-compliance team and continuing twice-daily symptom screening of its athletes, according to a school official.

With more students returning to in-person learning, the Minnesota Department of Health is calling for families with children and teenagers to get tested for COVID-19 every two weeks through the end of the school year.