With Gov. John Bel Edwards’ announcement Monday that the state will be moving into Phase II of reopening on Friday, the plan is for extracurricular activities to resume on Livingston Parish school campuses on June 8.
Just don’t expect them to look like they did before the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“We’re very excited to get to the point where it looks like we’re going to have some of our students and our student-athletes returning to our campuses,” Livingston Parish Public Schools athletic director Steve Parrill said. “The challenge for us is when we actually get to see Gov. Edwards’ next proclamation or executive order, what the details will look like.”
“There’s a lot that’s going to go into this. It’s not just ‘let’s play ball.’”
Parrill said there will be procedures in place that will likely look different for each sport or extracurricular activity and each campus, but they’re designed to protect the health of students and coaches.
He said there are several factors to consider, including how students will maintain social distance in buildings, including locker rooms and weight rooms, where space could be limited. There’s also the issue of how areas will be cleaned before each group comes in as in Phase II, groups are limited to 25 people, including coaches. There are also expected to be hourly cleanings of high-touch areas and bathrooms.
Parrill said there will also be a sign-in procedure once students arrive on campus, and they will have to answer some health-related questions to ensure they are able to remain on campus. Dismissal procedures are also expected to be in place to ensure students don’t congregate in parking lots between sessions.
Parrill said a point of emphasis is to maintain static groups on campuses during activities.
Guidelines will be established using information from the Louisiana Department of Education in consultation with the state’s Office of Public Health.
Parrill said the school system will begin devising its plan for students to return to campus ‘immediately’ after viewing the governor’s proclamation, which will likely be later this week. Although the time frame will be condensed for the June 8 start, Parrill said the framework for the plan is already in place.
“To be frank, we had guidelines written last time (entering Phase I), which we’re going to tweak,” Parrill said. “We had to keep our students safe, but we do want them on our campuses.”
Meanwhile, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, which pushed back the start of summer activities to June 8 last month, will hold an executive committee meeting via conference call Wednesday.
“I expect us to basically move into summer rules, where really in the summertime, the LHSAA really doesn’t regulate those things,” Springfield principal Spencer Harris, who is a member of the LHSAA’s Executive Committee, said. “Obviously, you can’t practice football in pads, and there are some rules, but as far as the workout procedures, I think it’s more the LHSAA’s job at this point to put out the guidelines of what’s safety and what’s recommended, but it’s not the LHSAA’s job to say what each place should do. That kind of falls under the school districts, in my opinion.”
Harris said it may be more difficult for volleyball and basketball teams to work out given they are in gyms but it is feasible.
“I think it’s doable, but it’s going to require taking the time and the effort to do the little safety things that are required to make sure that we can continue this,” Harris said.
Harris, however, is hoping the move to Phase II is another step toward a different type of normal when it comes to life and the coronavirus.
“I don’t think school in the fall is going to look like it did when we left,” Harris said. “I don’t think anything is going to, and I think we need to move forward. I’m hopeful that we can start playing sports, and I’m speaking for me, not LHSAA or anyone else. I’m at a point where I want to start moving activities. I think kids need to play things. I think they need to be involved, and I don’t want to lose that edge of getting kids out there, and I think that that is important for them. I think that we need to be as safe as possible, but I do think that we need to try to get kids back playing.”