A prank at Burns High School in Lawndale, N.C. has left the school’s football team without use of its field for the next six months.
The night of Thursday, Oct. 18, several unnamed students released 10-12 goats belonging to the school’s agriculture department onto the field at Ron Greene Stadium.
According to Donna Carpenter, the school system’s public information officer, the extended closure of the field was due to a recent outbreak of E. coli in Cleveland County, ABC News reports.
There have been just shy of 100 cases of E. coli, and one small child has died. The Charlotte Observer reports the outbreak was linked to the Cleveland County Fair, and health officials are investigating the petting zoo as a possible source.
Principal Aaron Allen told the Observer that school officials applied a bleach-based compound to the track surrounding the field, but that it was impossible to clear possible E. coli bacteria from the grass and soil.
ABC News reports that the Cleveland County Health Department inspected the field after the goats were captured and, based on the state’s recommendation, elected to close the stadium for at least five months -- the amount of time it takes the virus to die.
The football team played its final regular-season game last Friday at Shelby High as scheduled, but had to relocate its Senior Night game the previous Friday and was expected to host at least one playoff game. That contest will be moved to Kings Mountain High School.
According to the Shelby Star, Cleveland County Schools Superintendent Bruce Boyles was uncertain of the costs associated with moving Burns High School games. WSOC-TV reports Boyles said concessions will take the biggest hit, but he anticipates that fans will travel anywhere to watch the team.
Other Burns High teams have also had their schedules affected.
The goats, which are housed at the school for the Future Farmers of America program, were safely returned following the prank.
The Shelby Star reports that the individuals responsible for releasing the animals have been identified, though Boyles refused to comment on how many students were involved and how they would be punished.
This isn’t the first school prank this year to incorporate live animals. In June, firefighters were called to Simsbury High School in Connecticut after a custodian discovered four goats on an overhang above the school’s entrance. The goats are believed to have been part of a senior prank.
That same month, more than 20 students from Heritage High School in Brentwood, Calif. were suspended and denied walking in their graduation after tying a lamb to a pole, among other things.