East Helena Cancels Football Game Against Columbia Falls

Game is first in the state to be canceled or postponed due entirely to COVID-19

Columbia Falls High School football practice. Beacon file photo

East Helena has canceled its high school football game against Columbia Falls on Friday night due to COVID-19 issues at the school.

Superintendent Dan Rispens announced the cancellation Tuesday in a letter to parents outlining COVID-19 issues in the district. Rispens also said in the letter that the district recently changed its protocols to require students to learn remotely for two weeks if they’ve had close contact with someone who has tested positive; remote learners are not allowed to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports.

Columbia Falls Activities Director Troy Bowman confirmed the cancellation in a Facebook post on Tuesday morning.

Rispens said one staff member and one student at the high school have tested positive for COVID. Many students are learning remotely because of close contact; how many of those are football players is unclear.

“The only information I can share is that we don’t have enough players due to school district COVID policies,” East Helena football coach Tyler Murray wrote to the Helena Independent-Record and in a text.

East Helena played its first varsity game in school history this past Friday, falling to Libby 55-0. Columbia Falls opened with a 35-6 win over Stevensville.

Friday’s game is the first in the state to be canceled or postponed this fall due entirely to COVID-19. Hays-Lodgepole postponed its game Saturday against Simms due to a combination of COVID-19 precautions and impacts from a wildfire.

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