LHSAA Tightens Stance On COVID-19 Guidelines; Schools Could Be Fined For Noncompliance
by Hunter Bower // GeauxPreps.com Owner
BATON ROUGE – On the heels of Governor Jon Bel Edwards’ recent proclamation, easing Louisiana back into a modified Phase Two to help battle the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the LHSAA is tightening its stance regarding health measures at high school athletic events.
In a memo sent to member schools on Wednesday, Executive Commissioner Eddie Bonine announced some changes in the state association’s guidelines to help mitigate any further outbreaks.
Effective immediately, member schools will be required to ensure that ANY/ALL individuals including family members:
• Wear a face covering at all times
• No one, including family members, is to be seated next to each other
• A distance of SIX feet separation between all attendees is required
In the memo, Bonine stated that failure to comply with the above required measures will result in a $500.00 fine for the school as well as the loss of hosting and potentially participating in any further football games and/or winter sports (basketball, wrestling, soccer and powerlifting).
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance for adherence,” Bonine stated in the memo. “This COVID-19 surge is serious in nature, as across our state in every region is reporting a substantial increase in cases and hospiliations.”
In a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Edwards signed an executive order after having announced a move back into modified Phase Two. The order went into effect on Wednesday and is set to expedite on December 23, just two days before the LHSAA Football Prep Classic is set to take place in New Orleans.
Edwards pointed towards a recent spike in hospitalizations as well as a rise in cases per capita as the reasoning for everting back into Phase Two. The recent mandate requires that all sporting events be capped at 25% capacity regardless of whether a parish is under the 5% threshold or not.
“If we want to continue interscholastic participation as we currently know it, then we need to take any/all precautionary measures to do so,” said Bonine.
The LHSAA is scheduled to begin its football playoffs Friday night while winter sports such as basketball and soccer are in the midst of their respective seasons. This comes just months after the association was forced to close down its spring sports seasons such as baseball and softball due to the virus.
“It is our intent to not lose the momentum we have gained to this point with fall sports and the beginning of our winter sports season, all because some prefer to turn a blind eye to those LHSAA COVID-19 recommendations and guidelines.”
Bonine warned that not taking the now required measures seriously could result in severe punishments for each member school. He also noted that furthering the spread could force the state to shut down interscholastic sports altogether.
“There are requirements now, please do not put my office in a position to render a decision on whether you are in compliance, or worse yet, the Governor’s office in a position to shut us down,” said Bonine.