DSHS-Northshore girls Kiana Lee.jpg

Denham Springs' Kiana Lee (20) looks to get a shot off under pressure from Northshore's Mollie Grubbs (30).

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association sent a letter to schools on Friday asking for greater adherence to COVID-19 mitigation measures as basketball season begins to take centerstage.

In a letter dated Nov. 20, LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine, assistant executive director Karen Hoyt, and Director of Officials Lee Sanders urged members to follow attendance limits and masking requirements as the sports calendar shifts indoors.

“Our office has received allegations that member schools are not adhering to the attendance limits and/or masking requirements for basketball games,” the letter said. “As positive COVID-19 cases increase across the state, we must implement basic mitigation strategies to support the safety and success of these LHSAA contests.”

The letter reminded schools of basic COVID-19 mitigation measures, which include:

-- Indoor sporting events are limited to 25% of the established seating capacity.

-- Fans must wear face coverings, maintain social distancing, and practice proper hygiene.

-- Administrators must collaborate to promote proper crowd management and facility sanitization.

-- Effective immediately, administrators must place all cheerleaders in the stands. Cheerleaders are not allowed to cheer from the baseline and/or sideline areas during basketball games.

The letter came as the state enters its third surge of the novel coronavirus since the disease’s outbreak in March. Over the last several weeks, health officials have grown concerned with an ongoing spike in new COVID-19 cases, percent positivity, and hospitalizations.

The shift to indoor sports has elevated concerns about the spread of COVID-19 “due to the close proximity of participants in enclosed settings,” LHSAA leaders said.

“Please do not jeopardize our basketball season by refusing to comply with these guidelines,” the letter concluded. “Our mitigation efforts must intensify to support the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, officials, and spectators.”

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