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Status of Cheltenham boys basketball game against Mt. Lebanon unclear

Cheltenham was slated to face WPIAL runner-up Mt. Lebanon in the second round of the PIAA 6A boys basketball playoffs Wednesday night at Chambersburg Area High School, but concerns over the coronavirus have put the status of the contest into question.

A statement issued by Mt. Lebanon followed an announcement the school’s boys’ basketball team would not be playing the game on Wednesday. The statement, issued by athletic director John Grogan, read:

“Our boys basketball team was scheduled to compete against Cheltenham High School’s team on Wednesday, March 11 in Chambersburg as part of the PIAA playoff structure. The Cheltenham School District recently released information about their response to the COVID-19 virus because of exposure within their community.   

To reduce or mitigate the possible exposure to their students and staff, the Superintendent of the Cheltenham School District communicated to his community that the Cheltenham School District has closed its schools for the week, suspended field trips through April 13, and are prohibiting outside groups from utilizing its facilities.  Although the Cheltenham School District deemed it appropriate to continue participation in the PIAA playoff structure, the Mt. Lebanon School District does not under these circumstances. 

The health and well-being of our students, staff, and community are of the utmost importance to us. After fully considering the totality of the information our District received from the Cheltenham School District, we consulted with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) who advised the District not to participate in the game.  After speaking to the PIAA leadership, the Mt. Lebanon School District administration has made the decision to not send our team, coaches, and other personnel to compete in the game. In that we can not ensure the health and safety of our students, coaches, and community, the District administration could see no other viable scenario to permit our team’s participation.  

The District has communicated its position to the PIAA and is awaiting its response.  It is our position that our team should not be disqualified from this game and tournament.  

We extend our support to the Cheltenham School District as it is reported to be dealing with an evolving COVID-19 situation.”

The Cheltenham School District closed on Tuesday, March 10 and plans to remain closed through Friday, March 13. The district announced a parent of a student in the district, through their work as a caregiver, came in contact with a patient with a presumptive case of the COVID-119 virus. Both the parent and the student are under quarantine.

A district statement issued on March 9 read in part:

“This morning, CSD Administration learned of a district parent who was the caregiver to a patient with a presumptive case of COVID-19 (coronavirus). The parent has self-quarantined herself and her child. Because of this and any possible transmission to community members, all Cheltenham School District schools and buildings will be closed Tuesday, March 10 through Friday, March 13. This decision was reached in consultation with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, and made out of an abundance of caution. As of this afternoon, there are only five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montgomery County, none in the Cheltenham School District. In addition, to reduce or mitigate possible exposure by our students and staff, all field trips have been canceled until students return from spring break on Monday, April 13. The Legislative Board meeting on Tuesday, March 10 will be rescheduled. All CSD buildings are closed to co-curricular activities, and outside organizations.”

The Panthers were preparing to leave for their drive to Chambersburg on Wednesday when Mt. Lebanon’s statement released. A communications official for the Cheltenham School District said the team still hopes to play the game and is prepared and willing to do so. Cheltenham is currently operating under the belief the game will be contested on Thursday, March 12.

The PIAA’s official website has the game’s site, date and time currently listed as “TBD.”

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