Popular cheerleading gym, Cheer Athletics Plano, has closed its doors following several positive COVID-19 cases within the facility. The gym opened in late May following Gov. Greg Abbott’s state-wide reopening plans.
The gym, located between George Bush Turnpike and U.S. Highway 75, offers intensive cheer classes to over 1,000 students.
During its reopening, owners Angela Rogers, Jody Melton and Brad Habermel said the gym had several restrictions in place to halt the spread of the virus. Temperature checks, social distancing and using cleaning crews were some of the precautions implemented by the owners, they said on a YouTube video posted on the gym's social media.
But just a couple of “missteps” were to blame for athletes’ positive cases, Rogers said.
“We felt like we were really doing all of the right things and even following those procedures and being really cautious," she said. "We have still had some cases pop up.”
As of now, the gym is on a two-week “quarantine” according to Habermel.
During “stunting” practices involving pyramid-building or performance-style exercises, Habermel said athletes were not required to wear masks.
“Athletes took their masks off, and unfortunately it looks like that could have been part of our misstep,” he said.
“Not having that mask on, we think potentially allowed for a more relaxed environment, which led to what we’re dealing with right now with cases of COVID.”
Habermel and Melton pointed to a larger issue of behavior during the pandemic. On a search for normalcy, students and families overlooked major safety issues, they said. Habermel said an event that happened outside of the gym could have contributed to the spread.
“There was an outside gathering that was relaxed with the social distancing as well,” Habermel said.
Melton also called on other gyms to follow in Cheer Athletics’ footsteps.
“If you’re seeing this, other cheer gyms or other youth sports out there, that yes, you need to follow at least the guidelines that your state government or local government is putting out there,” he said. “We were following those, and we believed we were following those to the letter for our category of youth sports, but I think it may be best to be even more restrictive than that.”
As of Friday morning, the gym has plans to reopen following the July 4 holiday. But it is looking into the face of more restrictive precautions.
“This is a great call to action for us to realize that we’ve got to do more, we’ve got to do better and so we’ll definitely be changing things,” Habermel said.