Citing a large amount of information and discussion, the LHSAA executive committee voted unanimously to postpone implementation of summer rules until June 8 because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision prohibits the start of summer practice in any sport by an LHSAA school-based team until June 8. The committee met via conference call Wednesday. Summer rules were originally scheduled to go into effect on May 17, in accordance with the NFHS calendar the LHSAA follows.
That fact, along with Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Monday announcement that Louisiana would begin Phase I of reopening after the pandemic on May 15, had schools across the state primed to begin workouts, which will now be on hold until June 8.
“I’ll put it to you this way, whatever schools might have been planning to do on Sunday or Monday, you cannot do until June 8,” LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine said. “That includes any kind of weightlifting, bouncing a basketball, throwing a football or a baseball, hitting a volleyball … whatever was planned is not permissive.
“It was a long meeting and a good one. At the end of the day, we needed to pump the brakes. We’re in an unusual time … unprecedented. Nobody needs to rush into this. The department of education and department of health are working together to provide guidance on things like how to implement sanitation, which is something not all schools are prepared for.
“If athletes want to play on a travel ball team this summer, it will be their decision to do that. It will be up to the individual schools to determine whether those teams are allowed on their campuses.”
In a three-page memo sent to member schools, Bonine said the committee heard reports from staff members and committee member Ken Bradford, who represents the Louisiana department of education. The memo references a May 1 memo in which Bonine said, “My biggest concern was potentially the inconsistency in the implementation from public schools, private schools and schools within individual parishes.”
Bonine believes the delay until June 8 will give schools the chance to plan for all phases of rolling out practices, etc., within safety standards. In addition to the memo, the communication included a K-12 memo with guidance for summer 2020.
June 1 also was discussed as a possible start-up date, but Bonine said the committee felt comfortable with June 8, noting that it would line up with Edwards' roll out of Phase II reopening. The memo notes that one key difference is that Phase I allows for groups of no more than 10 people for activities, while Phase II will allow 25. Phase II also allows sports that involve limited contact including baseball, cheerleading, gymnastics, volleyball and softball. Phase I allows for individual sports and/non-contact sports.
How to handle physical exams in the pandemic year was one item the committee did not finalize. LHSAA physical exams are typically done in the spring and stand for a period of 13 months. Bonine said the LHSAA’s sports advisory committee and legal counsel will review a tentative plan that will be approved and announced in the days ahead.
The LHSAA postponed its sports seasons on March 16, in conjunction with Louisiana's stay-at-home order. On April 9, the LHSAA canceled its remaining spring sports and championship events because of the pandemic.
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