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Ozark High School student misses tennis championship due to COVID-19

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OZARK, Mo. — An Ozark High School Student has missed her chance to play in the State Tennis Championships due to COVID-19.

Melissa Peralta-Sanchez, a foreign exchange student from Mexico, was told to quarantine after a fellow student tested positive for the virus.

“I wait for twelve years to have an opportunity, and now I have the opportunity, and I can’t play,” said Peralta-Sanchez. “They don’t have a good response to me.”

The high school tennis player was set to play in the championship at 9 a.m., but she ended up having to watch it from her couch in quarantine.

Melissa’s classmate started showing symptoms on Monday, Oct. 5, and tested positive later that week. Melissa originally thought she would be able to play on Oct. 15 since it would be her last day of quarantine.

Melissa’s host parents say they were never contacted by the Health Department and advocated for her so she could play even though it was her last day of quarantine.

“MSHAA said as long as she could be released by the health department, that she could go ahead and come,” said Linda Murrow, Melissa’s host parent. “Of course, then we got on the phone with the Health Department, the Health Department told me the school makes their own decisions, so we just went back and forth – it’s up to the school, it’s up to the health department, it’s up to the school, it’s up to the health department.”

Before the tennis match, Melissa was going to take a rapid test in Springfield for COVID-19.

“They said it would take ten minutes, she would be out the door before 8:00, drive down the road to the Cooper Sports Complex, or Cooper Tennis Complex, hand it to the coach, the coach was going to let Ozark School District know that he had the negative paper in his hand, and then she would walk out on the court at 9:00 and play,” said Murrow.

But a call from the district came saying the Health Department had decided she couldn’t compete.

According to Ozark Schools Superintendent Chris Bauman, he cannot speak about specific students but says their guidance comes from the Health Department.

“Some of the things that we want people to understand is that there is not anything in the guidelines that allows that current quarantine time to be reduced. The time is the time,” said Bauman. “Really, a negative test only means your negative at the time you took the test.”

The Ozark School District is hosting a board meeting Thursday, Oct. 15, to discuss several issues, including allowing their school district to utilize rapid antigen testing. Bauman says if this type of testing is voted on in later meetings, the school may implement rapid testing in some capacity in the future.

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