LAUSD facilities to be closed for summer to sports programs

The Los Angeles Unified School District announced on Monday that facilities will remain closed through the summer because of the coronavirus pandemic, with no new use permits issued and all existing permits canceled, creating summer obstacles for athletes and coaches wanting to prepare for the fall sports season.

Football season officially begins for City Section teams on July 29 and for other fall sports on Aug. 5. Many teams and athletes work out in June and July in preparation, but the lack of available facilities could mean the football season, scheduled to start with games the week of Aug. 21, could be postponed until September.

One major challenge for football coaches is getting players cleared via physicals, which coaches say can be a “logistical nightmare.” Athletic directors and school nurses need to be available before players can practice.

“First kids have to get their paperwork in and cleared, then practice, then play a game,” said Shane Cox, who coordinates football for the City Section.

City Section Commissioner Vicky Lagos said she is making contingency plans in case the start of the season is delayed.

Ron Nocetti, executive director of the CIF (the state’s governing body for high school sports), said the top priority is for sections to hold their championships. If that means the state football playoff bowl games need to be postponed or canceled, he said that would be considered depending on how many of the 10 sections need to delay the start of their fall seasons.

It’s difficult for sections to come up with a plan for this fall because no one knows when the current state-wide social-distancing measures will be relaxed. Also charter schools in the City Section don’t have to follow LAUSD facility guidelines.

Andy Moran, the football coach at Eagle Rock and chairman of the City Section advisory committee, said he’s optimistic there will be a football season.

“Taking away the summer and starting in August the way it used to be 30 or 40 years ago, it will be interesting to see who will be successful,” he said. “I am hopeful that we flatten the curve soon and get back to normal soon. Football is a pathway to normalcy for high school kids. It’s one of the first sports in the fall. That first Friday when school comes back is what everyone is looking for. It’s a gateway to normalcy.”

When will be the first Friday night for a football game? Classes are scheduled to begin on Aug. 18 for many schools.

“I’m shooting for the first Friday in September,” Moran said. “I don’t think it’s a big deal. It will be a throwback. Everybody will be on the same page.”

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