When Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday that the state would enter Phase One of the reopening process from safety measures taken in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, what it all means to high school athletics might depend on who you talk to.
“It sound likes what they’ve done is they’ve lifted the restrictions of 10 or more people but they still have the social distancing in place,” said St. Charles Catholic athletic director and football coach Frank Monica. “It seems to me, it may allow kids to at least lift weights. That’s an encouraging thing. Of course, it’s limited capacity of how many you have at a time.
“Depending on the size of the weight room, but 10 seems to be a pretty good number to allow in the weight room at a time. That’s better than zero.”
“I’m not sure what I heard,” said Dwain Jenkins, Lutcher athletic director and head football coach. “I just think some of the things that the governor said and some of the slides he showed was in some conflict.”
“The talk of Phase One had been no more than 10 people and 25 percent of capacity. What does that mean for something like a weight room?” added Jenkins, who also is the president of the Louisiana High School Coaches Association.
“With us opening up on Friday, we have to make a decision on what protocols were are going to put into place but until the LHSAA kind of gives us some direction, we are kind of flying by the seat of our pants,” said Timmy Byrd, Riverside Academy’s athletic director and basketball coach.
With many unanswered questions, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association will have a conference call Wednesday with its leadership and executive committee to help clear up matters and set guidelines going forward.
In the governor’s announcement Monday, he stated Phase One would be in place for 21 days.
Just what sports can participate and what they will or will not be allowed to do remains in question. The governor briefly mentioned individual and non-contact sports as being able to start up on Friday.
Among the issues the LHSAA will need to clarify is which sports are considered non-contact, limited contact and full contact and what phase the state would have to be in for participation to resume.
A number of guidelines would have to be established as well.
“I think one of the biggest concerns is the sanitizing guidelines,” said Jenkins.
“We are going to change some safety procedures as far as water fountains and bathrooms. We will definitely make those changes no matter what. Also, we’re going to decrease the amount of kids that we allow to participate in workouts at one time. Then we will see how things kind of go the first couple of weeks and we will kind of play it by ear,” said Byrd.
Another issue is summer leagues and camps.
“Right now, I don’t think anybody has an answer. Like for basketball and volleyball, nobody’s made any decisions on whether or not they are going to have summer camps and leagues. Right now, we are just focused on in-house participation,” said Byrd.
The process of trying to get back to near normal includes a Phase Two and a Phase Three. It still remains to be seen what the level of activity will be allowed for each phase.
“I’d be tickled to death if they would allow us to do more and more each time, that way we know we are headed to opening this thing up completely by fall,” said Monica.
Until then, trying to get everyone on the same page may be the most important thing to come out of Wednesday’s meeting of the LHSAA.
“The LHSAA has to be in the leadership here. They cannot just leave it up to the parishes of the schools. I think the LHSAA needs to set the tempo here of when and what you can’t do. If not, there will be a severe imbalance about what some parishes can and can’t do and what schools can and can’t do,” said Monica.