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Pertussis outbreak leads to extra-curricular ban
By Hodagsports.com Staff - Posted on 12/21/2016
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After Monday's meeting with the School District of Rhinelander board of education and Oneida County health officials, the health department will continue the extra-curricular ban until January 2nd despite the affects for student athletes and coaches.

Several coaches, teachers, and athletes gathered to hear the update on the pertussis outbreak which will remain in effect. Therefore, not only classes will be cancelled but all extra-curricular activities which will include games as well as practices, creating a three-week ban from competition.

Despite the questions and arguments addressed, school nurse Kerri Schmidt pediatrician Julia Pickens M.D., health department nurse Rob Deede, and health director Linda Conlon expressed the importance of the health intervention and that we need to put the health of the community first.

"Oneida County Health Department's recommendation for the maximum impact of curtailing the outbreak of Pertussis in the Rhinelander School District is to remain closed until January 2nd," the department released in the district's press release.

"This recommendation is not made lightly; it is based on data, research, and input from partners including the school and providers. We are concerned for the health and wellness of our teachers, students and community members. Although we recognize the impact this has had on the sports teams, the congregation of teams is proven by research to impede public health measures put in place to break the chain of communicability. In addition, we also recognize the many voices of our concerned citizens that appreciate the efforts of Public Health and the District in protecting our community. We would like to thank the Rhinelander School District and Board for their vigilance in monitoring symptoms of illness and their role in keeping our community healthy."

After the district and health department seeing evidence of rising illness, it was important to take action to help prevent further spread of illness especially among students and teachers in the district.The WIAA mandates that teams that go more than 14 consecutive days without practice, they will have to practice at least five days before they are allowed to return to competition. As a result, RHS cancelled or postponed all of their games that were scheduled through January, 6th, 2017.

There is no doubt the ban significantly impacts extra-curricular activities throughout Rhinelander, including high school level sports as well as youth sports. With such a long stretch off from competition many coaches feel the extreme period without practice will negatively impact winter sports for the remainder of the 2016-2017 season with many teams losing opportunities to improve and prepare for the last half of their seasons.

Although the ban seems to be extreme to many area coaches and athletes, the health department based their decision with the health and wellness of the entire community in mind.

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