High school athletics: LHSAA announces commitment to fall sports in memo

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The LHSAA on Wednesday afternoon announced it’s “firmly committed to Fall Sports” in a memo sent to member schools’ principals, athletic directors, coaches, officials and the media.

“Now, more than ever, we are reminded that our communities need high school sports. Interscholastic competition supports the physical, emotional and mental well-being of student-athletes across Louisiana,” the memo states. “The LHSAA is fully committed to the safe return of high school athletics this fall. We encourage member schools to follow LHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee Guidelines to ensure the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. Reopening high school sports depends on all of us working together.”

The memo comes in the wake of a letter sent Monday to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana School Boards Association by state Sen. Cleo Fields urging “the suspension of all athletic activities that involve in-person participation by students in a group setting for the upcoming fall semester, including conditioning, practice, team meetings, and games.”

The letter urged BESE to adopt a rule suspending athletic activities at its special meeting on July 14 and requests the Louisiana School Boards Association “to reach out to all local school boards and superintendents to request that they voluntarily suspend fall athletic activities.”

“Fields says that the nature of activities such as athletic practices and games requires too much close proximity to be conducted safely as long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and that suspension is necessary until such time as the health and safety of student athletes can be ensured,” the press release states.

“This is a critical issue and it is too important to leave solely up to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association,” writes Fields. “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.”

Fields’ letter also said the senator “authored Senate Resolution 39 requesting BESE to adopt CDC-aligned rules to protect the health and safety of school personnel and the public at athletic activities held on school property during the 2020-2021 school year.”

According to a report by Hunter Bower on the website GeauxPreps.com, BESE president Sandy Holloway said “the board can recommend but not dictate how school districts handle extracurricular activities.”

Holloway told GeauxPreps.com decisions regarding extracurricular activities are made at the local level.

Athletes in all LHSAA sports have been conducting summer workouts since June 8 under guidelines by the LHSAA and local school boards to prevent the spread of COVID-19.