Saturday, October 24, 2009

Notre Dame events on hold due to illness

OCTOBER 17, 2009

The Notre Dame Hounds' athletic season is on hold.

All the Hounds' athletic competitions -- including Friday's scheduled Regina Intercollegiate Football League game against the Luther Lions -- have been cancelled or postponed until at least the middle of next week.

Officials at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame made the decision in consultation with the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region and the school's medical personnel due to concerns arising from the H1N1 outbreak.

In recent weeks, there have been five confirmed cases of H1N1 within the student body at the Wilcox-based residential school. Those five students have recuperated following a seven-day quarantine, but caution is being exercised because a few of their classmates have flu-like symptoms.

"We're interested in the health of our kids and other kids,'' Notre Dame president Rob Palmarin said Friday. "We're not in panic mode. We're in precautionary mode.''

Palmarin added that, as of Friday, 14 of Notre Dame's 320 students were being treated by Notre Dame's health care nurses. A majority of those patients were experiencing flu-like symptoms.

For the time being, Notre Dame is distancing itself from the outside community until the symptoms subside. This policy is in effect for five days, beginning Friday, after which the situation will be reviewed. The objective is to speed up the recovery process and reduce the possibility of the illness spreading. All visitors to Notre Dame are being advised of the situation.

"The majority of our students are healthy,'' Palmarin emphasized. "We had classes all week and we plan on having classes on Monday. We plan to go to church on Sunday.

"We're going to stay home -- kind of like in a Regina bungalow, but the neighbours aren't going to come over. That's kind of how we're approaching it.''

When possible, the affected sporting events will be rescheduled. One exception will be the RIFL game against Luther, which was to be the regular-season finale for both teams. Officials from Notre Dame and Luther College High School mutually agreed that the game would be declared a tie.

"It was their initiative,'' said Palmarin, who commended the Luther administrators for their sportsmanship.

With a victory, Luther could have supplanted Notre Dame as the third-place team in the Stewart Conference. Instead, Notre Dame remains in third and Luther stays in fourth. Both teams are scheduled to participate in first-round playoff games on Thursday.

"It's not our fault and it's not their fault,'' Luther principal Mark Anderson said. "The health of the kids comes first. That's the bottom line.''

The Hounds' soccer program is also affected. The Regina High Schools Athletic Association's 2A girls soccer final, between Notre Dame and the Miller Marauders, was to be played Monday. The game has been moved to Wednesday, 5 p.m., at Mosaic Stadium, contingent upon Notre Dame athletes receiving clearance to resume competition.

Notre Dame had qualified three runners for the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association cross-country championships, to be held today in the vicinity of the Canada Games Athletics Complex. As a precaution, those runners will be withheld from the provincial meet.

The SHSAA cross-country meet was to have been held in Wynyard, but was moved to Regina on short notice because a 16-year-old student at Wynyard Composite High School died after contracting the H1N1 virus.

RHSAA volleyball matches involving Notre Dame's junior and senior girls teams have also been affected.

In addition, the health situation affects Notre Dame's many hockey teams, including the SJHL's Hounds, and the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League's Hounds and Argos. A postponement will also impact Notre Dame's entry in Regina Minor Football's bantam division.

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