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Burns field closed 6 months after goat prank

The football field at Burns High School in Cleveland County will be closed for most of the rest of the school year, following a prank last week in which someone turned goats loose in the facility.

The six-month closure is out of caution over a recent E. coli outbreak in the county, according to school and state health officials.

About 100 people were sickened, including one death, from the E. coli bacteria earlier this month. The outbreak was linked to the Cleveland County Fair, and health officials are looking at the petting zoo as a possible source, although they have not completed their investigation.

Principal Aaron Allen said goats that belong to Burns High’s agriculture department were turned loose on the night of Oct. 18 inside Ron Greene Stadium. He said school officials applied a bleach-based compound to the track surrounding the football field but added that there was no way to clear possible E. coli bacteria from the grassy surface.

E. coli can be spread from animals to humans through animal fecal matter.

On Thursday, the Cleveland County Schools announced the field will be closed for six months. That was a joint decision by Cleveland County Schools, Cleveland County health and state health officials.

Burns High, in the town of Lawndale, moved last Friday’s home football game to another site, and it also moved varsity soccer and junior varsity football games this week to other stadiums. Tonight’s regular-season final game was already scheduled for Shelby High.

But Burns is expected to have at least one home playoff game, and that contest will be moved to Kings Mountain High School.

The six-month closure would last into late April, and that means several track meets and girls’ soccer matches next spring also could be moved.

The Shelby Star reports that school officials have determined who was responsible for releasing the goats.

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