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McQuaid Jesuit football game postponed after dispute over COVID-19 protocols

A football game involving McQuaid Jesuit high school was postponed Saturday after a dispute over COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

According to a statement released by McQuaid, they were informed Saturday afternoon by Robert Zayas, the executive director of the New York Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) that Saturday night’s New York State regional final game would be postponed.

McQuaid says on Friday evening, the Erie County Department of Health indicated it would only permit vaccinated McQuaid Jesuit players, coaches and managers to compete in the regional final because some players and an assistant coach tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. The game was scheduled to be played in Williamsville.

McQuaid says that following the school’s protocols, the varsity football team was placed on a 72-hour pause for contact practice, effective last Tuesday, after two members of the team tested positive.

School officials say that with guidance from the Monroe County Department of Public Health, McQuaid tested all players and coaches for three consecutive days beginning on Thursday.
McQuaid says that it tested all players and coaches, whether vaccinated or not, were tested Thursday, Friday and again Saturday morning with negative tests each day required to participate in Saturday night's game.

Officials say that testing did result in several more positive cases reported to the county health department, and anyone who did test positive was immediately required to isolate.

McQuaid officials say that they were prepared to proceed with Saturday’s game, and that their players and coaches learned of Zayas’s postponement while on buses waiting to leave for the game.

McQuaid says the postponement came as a judge in Erie County had awarded McQuaid a temporary restraining order against the Erie County Department of Health on Saturday afternoon.

A statement issued by Zayas of the athletic association said that NYSPHSAA has tentatively postponed the West Regional football game between McQuaid Jesuit vs. Bennett High School until Tuesday, November 23 as a result of the court order. Zayas says that restraining order, “prevents the Erie County Department of Health from enforcing public health COVID regulations.”

Zayas also says that the association’s championship protocol states that the NYS Department of Health and local health departments will have final jurisdiction over championship events involving matters of public health.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said on Twitter that, “McQuaid tried to force the game to be played by judicial order, in contravention of health department standards,” but he says that to its credit, the high school athletic association postponed the game until a full court hearing can be held in the next few days.

McQuaid Jesuit President, Fr. Phil Judge said in his statement that, ”All of us hope that we can allow our players to safely compete in a game they have worked so hard for,” and he says they look forward to that opportunity in the near future.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.