Orange health board: 23 quarantining after contact with Mahar field hockey player

  • Ralph C. Mahar Regional School in Orange. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/29/2020 9:40:33 AM
Modified: 10/29/2020 9:40:27 AM

ORANGE — Twenty-three people from “various towns” started a 14-day quarantine in the middle of the month after coming into contact with a Ralph C. Mahar Regional School field hockey player who later tested positive for COVID-19.

The Orange Board of Health confirmed the new case in an Oct. 23 statement — three days after Mahar Athletic Director Jim Woodward confirmed that the field hockey team shut down all events and practices for two weeks — though no people have been named.

“At this time we are not aware of any new cases stemming from this event and we send our best wishes to all those affected,” the statement reads.

Board of Health member Jane Peirce said a new case is not surprising because it is now fall and people are more frequently indoors. She also said she does not predict a spike in new cases.

“The people of Orange have been really good (about following preventive protocols),” she said. “That’s why we felt OK with (permitting) trick-or-treating.”

Peirce said the Board of Health worked with the boards in Wendell, New Salem and Petersham — the other towns of the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District — to develop guidelines she said the school has followed.

According to the statement, Massachusetts reported more than 1,000 new cases on Oct. 22, the most since spring.

“The overall rate of infection within the state and country is the highest it has been in months,” the statement reads. “While the current level of local infection is lower compared to other places in the country, the rate in Orange is the highest it’s been since mid-August.”

As of Oct. 23, the Board of Health was aware of 52 positive cases, 3,877 negative tests, two active home isolations, 49 recoveries and one death.

The statement urges people to help slow the spread of the virus by wearing a mask when in public, washing their hands frequently and regularly sanitizing high-touch surfaces.

Mahar’s most recent field hockey game was played Oct. 15 in Orange against Greenfield High School. The team’s schedule was suspended during the quarantine period. Other Mahar fall sports are operating as usual.

Elizabeth Zielinski, superintendent of Ralph C. Mahar Regional and Orange and Petersham elementary schools, previously said the infected student’s family informed the school administration after learning about the positive test result.

Zielinski said the student-athlete, due to the remote learning set-up, never entered the school.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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