Los Angeles School District officials release tentative return-to-play timeline for high school athletes

Schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District may be able to begin socially distanced conditioning workouts on Nov. 2, LAUSD Director of Athletics Trent Cornelius announced in a meeting with athletic directors on Thursday.

“We don’t want to be personally responsible if our kids are not able to participate [in athletics] if the county protocols and CDC protocols allow it,” Cornelius said. “If they’re allowing athletic participation we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can ahead of time to give our kids an opportunity to participate.”

The tentative schedule for athletics in LAUSD is below. The schedule is still tentative because it hasn’t been officially adopted by the district at this time.

“Consider this presentation a preview and not necessarily the action plan that is ready to be rolled out,” said Cornelius. “Once we’re ready to be rolled out, there will be more details.”

The key to the return to the field in November is LAUSD’s ability to test all staff, students and families within the district for COVID-19. LAUSD signed a $48.9-million contract with startup company SummerBio in August, per the LA Times, to perform COVID-19 tests within the district. Once the testing initiative is up and running and assuming it works as intended, the district will allow conditioning at school facilities. The conditioning will be outdoor only and consist of small groups of five to 10 athletes socially distanced.

“I did hear positive feedback from people very high up that they are in support of getting athletes back on campus,” Cornelius said.

As of right now, only 10% of a school’s total enrollment will be allowed at one time for workouts on school facilities. During the tentative Nov. 2-Dec. 11 window, all athletes will be allowed to condition. That period is not solely for fall sport athletes.

Cornelius also announced that coaches will not be paid during the Nov. 2-Dec. 11 window.

“It’s a volunteer and optional thing,” Cornelius said. “They don’t have to do it.”

Multi-sport athletes will not be able to condition with multiple teams during the conditioning period in order to keep the workout groups consistent. Athletes will only be able to work out in their usual groups of five to 10. Athletes are allowed to play multiple sports in the same season when the athletic seasons officially begin (assuming the current schedule remains in place.)

Full practices for football, competitive cheer, boys and girls cross-country, boys and girls volleyball and boys and girls water polo are set to begin Dec. 14.

The biggest issue with LAUSD athletics in the COVID-19 era is transportation.

“Currently the transportation rules are very tight right now,” Cornelius said. “The number I’m often given is 13 [kids per a bus]. We know right now that if that doesn’t change, I don’t know how we’ll have athletics.”

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