BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards and a majority of state House members oppose a state senator's call for the cancellation of public school athletics this fall despite Louisiana's surging coronavirus outbreak.
Edwards says Senate Education Chairman Cleo Fields' push to suspend K-12 athletic events as a safety precaution was well-meaning. But the Democratic governor says it's "just a little too early" to make such a sweeping determination.
Louisiana is seeing renewed spikes in the COVID-19 disease and patient hospitalizations. A group of 56 Republican state representatives and seven state senators penned a letter to Louisiana's education leaders, urging a normal extracurricular sports schedule as schools reopen.
Fields on Monday wrote to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, asking them to bench teams, at least for the fall.
“I do not believe that conditioning activities can be conducted safely, much less drills, practice, and games,” Fields wrote. “There is simply too much close proximity involved to safely conduct these activities.”
“It is our responsibility to ensure that the health and safety of our children is placed above any athletic endeavor at any time or place,” Fields continued.
Late Tuesday afternoon, BESE responded, saying it doesn’t have the authority to call off sports for public schools. In a statement, the board says that decision is up to local school leaders and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.