The Louisiana Legislature met today to discuss the return of high school football which is currently slated to begin on October 9th. Eddie Bonine from LHSAA met with the Legislature to discuss this.
Mr. Bonine started by saying that all of his coaches have been very adaptable. He said that seventeen other states have already resumed football and so far there have been no hospitalization due to covid. There have been a few rare cases of having to close down the program but he said those are few and far between. He said looking at other states has helped LHSAA come up with some guidelines and they will be finalizing those this week at a board meeting. He said the biggest issues seem to be with fans and not with players. He anticipates full contact practicing will be able to start after this week’s board meeting. He believes football games will start back on the anticipated date of October 9th.
He stated that the board will be making a decision this week but he does believe that football will start shortly. He also said that the decision to restart will not hinge upon the reopening phase the state is in as decided by the governor.
In a public press release the LHSAA seems to indicate that sports will remain in session as long as schools remain open. They indicated they would be following the health and safety regulations as put forth by the state. The press release encourages all members of the community to follow laws and regulations related to public safety so that we may all
Representative Brass wanted to know if spectators will be allowed to watch student athletes play. Mr. Bonine indicated they would follow the state guidelines for schools and in phase 2 that would mean stadiums/gyms could be filled to 50%. More information on these guidelines can be found at Open Safely Louisiana.
Representative Gary Carter asked if there were any testing policies in place for athletes. Mr. Bonine stated they would not mandate the schools to do anything that incurred higher costs but again reiterated his belief that students athletes were behaving responsibly. Mr. Carter asked questions about quarantine procedures and Mr. Bonine indicated that an asymptomatic player would still have to quarantine if they were positive.
Representative Freeman asked if there was a thresh hold for how many students could test positive on a team before the team would be suspended from play or travel. Mr. Bonine stated they would defer to the medical experts for decisions like that.
The committee head then read a letter from Catherine O Neal MD, a doctor at Our Lady of the Lake General Hospital and a professor of infectious disease at LSU. She stated that if cases remain stable that contact practice should be able to begin in mid-September. If these practices do not result in an uptick in cases then regular play should be able to begin in early October. She stressed that a slow approach would help to keep the programs open for the full season without shut downs.
If things go according to plan, LHSAA should approve the plan to open football on October 9th as was previously decided.