Lafayette Christian players celebrate with the trophy after defeating St. Charles 41-21 during the LHSAA Division III High School Football State Championship at Cajun Field Saturday Dec. 7, 2019 in Lafayette, La.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Cleo Fields on Monday asked the president of Louisiana's top school board to have the panel suspend public school athletic activities during the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"This suspension should include all activities of any kind that would include student in-person participation in a group setting, including conditioning, practice and team meetings," said Fields, a Baton Rouge Democrat.

The request is spelled out in a letter to Sandy Holloway, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

BESE is expected to hold a special meeting, possibly July 14, to enact emergency minimum standards for schools to enact ahead of the reopening of classrooms.

The requirement stems from an amendment Fields had attached to a bill that would ban most lawsuits that target public school districts or colleges over coronavirus claims.

The measure, House Bill 59, won approval in the final moments of the special session and is awaiting action by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Holloway said Monday she needs time to review the request. 

In his letter, Fields said public health recommendations by the state Department of Education, issued last month, and guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have failed to adequately address the issue of public school sports.

"Despite the comprehensive guidance by the Department of Education and CDC guidelines, there are still instances of public school teams holding football practice and/or related activities," according to the senator's letter.

"I do not believe that conditioning activities can be conducted safely, much less drills, practice and games," Fields wrote.

"There is simply too much close proximity involved to safely conduct these activities," he said.

"The issue is much too critical to leave these decisions to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, which is a private entity," Fields said.

"It is our responsibility to ensure that the health and safety of our children is placed above any athletic endeavor at any time or place."

Eddie Bonine, executive director of the LHSAA, declined comment Monday.

The request was also sent to state Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley and leaders of school board and superintendent groups.

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