Group says student was banned from competing in tournament despite following quarantine guidelines

The youth athlete quarantined for 11 days and got tested twice, both tests coming back negative, after receiving notice of his potential exposure.

Stock photo of a lane swimmer/Unsplash

A high school swimmer was banned from competing in the state championship last weekend due to his exposure to COVID-19, despite following quarantine guidelines and receiving negative test results.

That’s according to Let Them Play MN, which released a statement explaining the decision by the Minnesota State High School League and Mankato West High Schools to ban the student from competing.

The student, who is only identified by his first name of Carson in the press release, was told of his “potential exposure” to COVID on March 9. He said he was wearing a mask when he was exposed to the virus.

Carson then quarantined for 11 days and got tested twice, both tests coming back negative.

The Minnesota Department of Health’s guidelines say exposure to the virus requires 14 days of quarantining as the “safest option,” 10 days of quarantining in specific cases, and only seven days of quarantining if the person exposed gets a negative test result and has no symptoms, which were both true in Carson’s case.

Despite Carson’s adherence to these guidelines, MSHSL and Mankato West still decided to ban him from competing in the swim meet, saying a 14-day quarantine was required.

“MDH’s own data shows young people, especially youth athletes, get COVID at far lower rates than any other population in Minnesota,” Let Them Play Director Dawn Gillman said. “But Gov. [Tim] Walz and Commissioner [Jan] Malcolm continue to single out kids for unfair treatment.”

According to Let Them Play, MDH’s statistics show only three possible cases of transmission among the 15,000-20,000 youth swimmers in Minnesota.

“It makes no sense that I was banned from the state meet,” Carson said. “I’m glad I can continue to compete in triathlons, but I want others to know about my situation. I hope to help the thousands of other kids who are subjected to unfair rules.”

Carson was the Minnesota junior triathlete of the year in 2020 and hopes to compete for Team USA in the triathlon world championships in Bermuda this fall.

“Kids are having a hard year, and I hope our leaders start to think about them when they make decisions,” Carson said.

Let Them Play’s attorney, Sam Diehl, argued that the governor has imposed rules on youth athletes that do nothing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Kids are not political props, they are Minnesota’s future, and they deserve to play and learn without unfair and counterproductive restrictions,” Diehl said.

Meanwhile, Walz and Malcolm chose to quarantine themselves for only 10 days after potential exposure similar to that of Carson’s case, the press release points out. Walz, Malcolm, and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan are currently quarantining after their exposure to a staff member who received a positive test.