On March 3, a new LAUSD memo announced Superintendent Austin Beutner’s decision to permit outdoor interscholastic sports practices and competitions for students ages 13 and older. The decision follows nearly a year of a district-wide athletics shutdown, and it marks an abrupt departure from Beutner’s previous stance that schools must re-open for academic instruction before holding athletic events.
For LAUSD student-athletes, this means that on-campus, in-person practices are allowed. Involvement in athletic activities remains voluntary and requires informed parent/guardian consent. To participate, athletes, coaches, and other athletic staff must abide by strict health protocols, including wearing masks, social distancing, and completing weekly COVID tests.
At Eagle Rock High School, practices are scheduled to begin on March 17. The specific days and times for respective teams have not yet been determined. Athletes will be required to have tested negative for COVID beforehand.
Free COVID-19 testing is available through the LAUSD at multiple locations, including Franklin High School and El Sereno Middle School. In order to test, athletes need a parent/guardian to schedule an appointment through the Parent Portal, and those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Results will be sent by email within 48 hours.
In terms of competitions, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has split sports into two seasons. CIF Season 1 includes football, cross country, and water polo. Baseball, soccer, softball, swimming/diving, tennis, track and field, lacrosse, golf, and cheer will comprise CIF Season 2. The LAUSD plans to hold City Section championships in soccer, baseball, softball, tennis, and lacrosse. City Section finals in cross country, previously the only LAUSD sports competition slated to occur, will no longer take place. Each school’s participation in athletics is a determination made by individual principals on a sport-by-sport basis.
A lawsuit settled on March 4 paved the way for indoor sports to occur throughout California. The decisions to hold indoor practices and competitions remain up to school districts.
To limit possible COIVD spread between teams, competing in two sports in a single time period has been discouraged by the California Dept. of Public Health, though this is not officially mandated. Schools and districts can make individual determinations on this matter. All students will be limited to a maximum of 18 hours of school-sport activities per week by the CIF.
In the event of a positive test, an athlete would be required to quarantine for 10 days. Contact tracing would be used to identify other potentially exposed staff or students. Currently, cancellation of competition is not compulsory.
All decisions follow last month’s judgment from the California Department of Public Health that outdoor sports could begin safely in counties with COVID-19 rates below 14.0 per 100,000. In late February, LA County rates had dropped to 12.3.
If COVID rates continue to fall, these opportunities for in-person practice and interscholastic competition will keep looking up for LAUSD athletes.