LHSAA memo reveals fine, penalty for failure to adhere to COVID-19 mitigation measures

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(The Livingston Parish News) – Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Director Eddie Bonine’s latest memo regarding COVID-19 mitigation measures may give schools a bit more incentive to adhere to social distancing and mask-wearing policies when it comes to high school athletics.

“Effective immediately, all member schools will be required to ensure ANY/ALL individuals including family members attending your events are wearing a face covering and are socially distanced in the stands,” the memo, which was released Wednesday evening, reads. “No one is to be seated next to each other. There must be 6 feet separation between all attendees. Evidence for failure to comply with these required measures will result in a $500.00 fine and the loss of hosting and potentially participating in any further football games and/or winter sports (basketball, wrestling, soccer, and powerlifting).”

The memo is in response to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ latest COVID-19 proclamation, which went into effect Wednesday and moved the state back to a “revised Phase Two” order as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations around the state are surging. Also, the memo states the LHSAA received multiple “complaints/concerns” regarding schools not adhering to mask wearing, social distancing and attendance capacity.

“According to today’s proclamation, all of our athletic events are once again under a 25% spectator/fan capacity,” the memo reads. “This includes all parishes whether you are under a 5% positivity rate or not. This spectator capacity will include, but is not limited to any/all individuals seated in fixed and/or newly installed portable seating provided for fans/spectators and support groups such as dance team, cheerleaders and band members.”

In regard to LHSCA coaching cards, the memo states it will be up to host schools regarding their acceptance. They weren’t accepted at the state volleyball tournament and won’t be at the LHSAA Prep Football Classic.

Bonine offered some advice in concluding the memo.

“In closing, 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 suggested for these events. That time has come to an end … 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. As always, your continued cooperation with the association is greatly appreciated. We can do this if we all do our part.”

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