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Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Sandy Holloway, left, La. Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley, and Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Director Eddie Bonine talk with each other, Monday, July 13, 2020 just before their apperances before the House Education Committee to discuss the reopening of public schools.

Those hoping the LHSAA would release a plan for the start of fall sports did not get that Wednesday.

One day after Gov. John Bel Edwards’ announcement that confirmed Louisiana will remain in Phase 2 of its coronavirus reopening, parents and athletes got an open letter from LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine.

In the letter, Bonine thanked parents who have reached out to the LHSAA to voice their concerns.

Bonine reiterated the LHSAA has no plans to cancel the fall seasons and remains committed to a safe start for fall sports.

“We have no intention of cancelling fall sports unless schools are closed or the pandemic dictates that it is not safe to play,” the letter says.

Edwards extended Louisiana’s order to remain in Phase 2 for two more weeks because of a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. The order expires Aug. 7, three days before the scheduled start of fall practice for LHSAA sports.

The letter followed a storyline area coaches are familiar with, though they concede the waiting for a final LHSAA announcement on seasons is challenging.

"One thing I respect is that our director, Mr. Bonine, has never wavered," Zachary football coach/athletic director David Brewerton said. "He has said the LHSAA is committed to have a fall season for football, even as we've stayed in the same phase. I believe he has the best interest of the schools and athletes in mind.

"I have been in favor of waiting as long as possible to make sure we make the best decision. But at the same tine, I also understand that people want answers. Mr. Bonine is in a tough spot ... we all are."

St. James football coach/athletic director Robert Valdez noted some of the major questions looming.

"It is a politically safe statement. And I get it, football is part of who we are," Valdez said of Bonine's letter. "I am a football guy, but there are so many questions. We all realize high schools don't have the resources like LSU and the SEC teams.

"So, what will games look like? What will crowds look like? What happens if you have to quarantine? I do worry about the kids being in adequate condition for the physicality of football. None of us, including the LHSAA, has the answers."      

Bonine told legislators last week that in order to engage in football-related training on Aug. 10, Louisiana needs to move to Phase 3. 

Bonine noted the LHSAA will work with state government officials, school systems, principals and coaches as each parish continues to develop and release its plans to begin the 2020-21 school year.

Bonine also encouraged parents to reach out to state government officials and local government officials to voice their concerns and to ask questions.

In closing, Bonine asked parents and athletes to follow coronavirus safety guidelines, including mask wearing and avoiding large gatherings.

“Please be assured that the LHSAA and I are doing everything possible to see that fall sports take place," he said in the letter. "This can be accomplished with everyone’s cooperation and help.”


Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com