Updated: Nov 30, 2020
In an announcement on Monday morning, Superintendent Austin Beunter authorized on-campus, outdoor voluntary conditioning for LAUSD sports teams beginning November 9th.
This return to practices does not signal an imminent return to competitions. Beutner, in an October 30 meeting with district personnel, indicated that the LAUSD would not be resuming competitions on December 14, the previously projected date.
Still, for the first time since March, teams will be able to train together in small pods. All athletes must test negative for COVID-19 within three days of the initial practice. Athletes and coaches will need to retest at regular intervals, potentially as frequently as each week, according to Eagle Rock Athletic Director Richard Martinez.
Representatives will provide more information to athletic staff in meetings later this week. This includes training coaches on how to conduct workouts in accordance with health guidelines.
Los Angeles County lingers in the purple Tier 1, meaning the risk level for COVID-19 cases in the area is widespread. This leaves Martinez “apprehensive” in spite of all precautions being put in place. “As an AD, I’m really apprehensive about how operations will work and apprehensive about everyone taking care of themselves beyond while we're on campus,” he says.
While coaches should be able to more closely enforce social distancing guidelines during conditioning, Martinez worries about student-athletes maintaining best practices while off-campus. And even during conditioning at Eagle Rock, Martinez expresses concern about lapses in adherence to COVID-19 related safety procedures. “Some coaches will monitor closely, but some might not necessarily follow procedures. In the case of an outbreak, criticism trickles back to the Athletic Director, and to our principal, Ms. Keipp.” he says.
Still, Martinez, who is also Eagle Rock’s cross country and track and field coach, says he is “very excited” about the prospect of working face-to-face with athletes after an 8-month hiatus. And many student-athletes share both his enthusiasm and his concerns.
“I’m excited because, with the stress of quarantine, I know that exercise and interaction with others are super important for students’ mental health. I can’t wait to see my teammates and return to the sport I love,” says Eagle Rock varsity cross country and track runner Itzel Whyte-Aguayo. “But I can’t help but be worried that the decision is happening at the same time as the U.S. is reporting the highest number of new cases since the start of the pandemic.”