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Watertown football players huddle during the game against Roosevelt on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019 at Howard Wood Field. (Photo: Abigail Dollins / Argus Leader)

Due to a high number of COVID cases and close contacts, Watertown High School will be going to online learning for the remainder of the week, superintendent Jeff Danielsen confirmed Monday.

Additionally, all extracurricular activities have been suspended for the remainder of the week, with all events either postponed or canceled.

Danielsen said that 20 positive coronavirus cases have been confirmed at the high school, 10 of which were added on Monday.

Contact tracing is still being conducted, but Danielsen said there are already more than 100 close contacts being quarantined and that figure could surpass 200 based on the average number of students who have been impacted previously by positive cases.

MORE: Three South Dakota school districts move to distance learning

Tracking Week 5 high school football schedule changes

The source of the outbreak remains unclear, according to Danielsen, who began receiving calls from the Department of Health on Saturday. 

With regard to resuming in-person classes, Danielsen said they will make a decision by the end of the week. The earliest would be Monday, Sept. 28. 

Watertown High School has an enrollment of approximately 1,200 students, making the Arrows the largest South Dakota high school to transition to online learning and suspend activities to date. 

Pierre, which has roughly 850 students this year, canceled classes Friday and suspended extracurricular activities last wee after roughly 15 high school students tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 150 others were asked to quarantine, according to superintendent Kelly Glodt.

Watertown, which competes in Class 11AAA for football and Class AA for all other sports, was scheduled to compete in several events this week, including two volleyball matches (vs. Lincoln and vs. Brandon Valley). The football team was slated to host Brandon Valley on Friday night. 

Arrows volleyball coach Rosemary Bellum said her team does not have any confirmed cases as of Monday afternoon, but nearly a fourth of their roster (about 10 of 46) is currently quarantining as close contacts. 

“We’ve had one at a time (this season), but we’ve never had this big of a number,” she added. “The school and administration met this morning and felt that it was better to cancel and/or postpone any activities that we have this week, just to make sure we have enough girls participating and to give them time at home to sit out in quarantine and not come in contact with other kids.”

Danielsen said a decision has not been made on whether or not sports will be allowed to resume if classes remain online beyond this week.

Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen.

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