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Two Arkansas high school football programs will be on hold because of the coronavirus.

Two Junction City football players have tested positive for covid-19, the school's superintendent told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Salem also announced it is suspending football practice until Aug. 21 because a student at the high school tested positive.

Junction City Superintendent Robby Lowe said Thursday that the players were tested Monday and received their results Tuesday. The school district reported the cases to the Arkansas Department of Health on Wednesday.

The Dragons practiced Monday and Tuesday, but did not practice Wednesday.

Lowe decided to halt all athletic workouts for two weeks until Aug. 17. Junction City's first football game is scheduled for Aug. 28 against Camden Harmony Grove.

"Out of precaution, we believe the best thing to do is to shut down the program," Lowe said. "We believe that by the 17th, we will have a clearer picture. We don't want this to spread in the community."

With the shutdown, Junction City postponed its Thursday golf match against Camden Fairview and has also called off its match Tuesday, also against Camden Fairview.

The student at Salem, whose sport was not disclosed, received his positive test result Thursday, then football practice was officially canceled after the school learned of the case.

Salem football Coach Josh Watson said the school had taken the proper precautions, such as wearing masks, sanitizing equipment and keeping social distancing when possible. However, those factors couldn't help prevent his program or the school from covid-19.

"We had a plan in place," Watson said. "It's a virus. It's going to spread.

"It's only a matter of time before every school is affected. If you don't have a plan, you're way behind the game."

Watson added that Salem's scrimmage against Piggott scheduled for Aug. 25 will be called off. Salem practiced Monday through Wednesday, but will not hold its second practice in shoulder pads until Aug. 21.

Salem's first game of the season is scheduled for Sept. 4 at home against Walnut Ridge.

Watson said that the junior high school team will return to practice Monday.

Salem advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals last season, losing to Fordyce. The Greyhounds have moved up to Class 3A for the 2020 and 2021 football seasons.

As of Thursday, 14 known schools in the state reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette have shut down varsity workouts in football because of a positive covid-19 case or exposure to the virus.

Clarksville had two football players test positive, while Little Rock Central, Jonesboro and Atkins each had one case from a football player, with Atkins' case coming in its junior high school program. Little Rock Catholic has had three athletes test positive for covid-19. Lake Hamilton and Mountain Pine each had an athlete with a positive case.

Carlisle temporarily shut down its program twice after having a football player exposed to the virus, but he later tested negative. Also, Carlisle had a multi-sport athlete (basketball and softball) become exposed to the virus along with her sister, who is in the school's band. The sisters later tested negative.

Osceola shut down its football workouts for a week when several coaches came into contact with a person with the virus. Those coaches later tested negative.

Beebe had two athletes test positive for the virus on two separate occasions in July.

Benton Harmony Grove had a football coach test positive and the school's football program is shut down until Tuesday.

Little Rock Catholic, Lake Hamilton, Mountain Pine and Beebe did not announce the sport of the affected athletes, citing privacy laws.

Junction City said in a news statement that players who participated in practice Monday and Tuesday should be observant for possible symptoms of the virus. If symptoms arise, students should be taken for testing and that they should contact coaches of positive tests so information can be relayed to the health department.

Since 2003, Junction City has won seven state championships and played in last season's Class 2A state title game against Fordyce. Lowe said while football has had a lot of success, the coronavirus pandemic is more important for the school right now.

"We love our football here," Lowe said. "But we are taking this seriously. We will follow the mandate."

More News

Programs affected by covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has forced 12 schools to shut down their football programs this summer because of a positive case or exposure to the virus. School districts listed in order of their announcements:

JONESBORO

The school district announced a positive test for a football player June 15. Football workouts resumed June 16.

LAKE HAMILTON

An athlete tested positive for the virus June 23. Athletic workouts resumed the week of June 29-July 3.

MOUNTAIN PINE

An athlete tested positive for the virus June 23. Athletic workouts resumed the week of July 6-10.

CLARKSVILLE

Two football players tested positive for the virus July 7. Football workouts were shut down until July 22.

CARLISLE

The athletic program shut down twice in July after three athletes were exposed to the virus. All of their tests were later negative. The school resumed workouts July 20.

LITTLE ROCK CATHOLIC

Three athletes tested positive for the virus in July. The school resumed workouts the week of July 20-24.

ATKINS

A seventh-grader tested positive for the virus, the school district announced July 14. The school resumed workouts July 20.

LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL

A football player tested positive for the virus, and the football program did not hold workouts July 16. The program resumed workouts July 20.

OSCEOLA

A football coach was exposed to the virus July 16. The football program was shut down for the week of July 20-24 and resumed workouts July 27.

BEEBE

The school announced two positive cases July 3 and July 30. The football program returned to workouts Monday.

BENTON HARMONY GROVE

A football coach tested positive for the virus Saturday. The football program is shut down until Tuesday.

JUNCTION CITY

Two football players tested positive for the virus Tuesday. The athletic program is shut down until Aug. 17.

SALEM

A student tested positive for the virus Thursday. The football program is shut down until Aug. 21.

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