L.A. County Meets State Guidelines to Resume Outdoor High School Sports

Masked players. | Courtesy photo by K.M. Klemencic (CC BY 2.0)

With Los Angeles County meeting the 14 cases per 100,000 residents threshold, with a reported 12.3 case number on Tuesday, schools within the county can once again begin playing outdoor, contact sports

By Jordan Green

After nearly a year of exhausting patience and deep frustration, high schools within Los Angeles County can resume their outdoor athletic programs beginning Friday under the regulation of the California Department of Public Health.

On Friday of last week, the CDPH and California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new set of guidelines that was highlighted by an adjusted daily case rated of 14 or less per 100,000 residents for counties to hold outdoor, contact-driven athletic events. L.A. County met that threshold on Tuesday when it was announced that the region carried a 12.3 case rate.

Along with L.A. County, Orange County (11.9 case rate) was also cleared to resume high school outdoor sports. San Bernardino County (15.2), Riverside County (16.6) and Ventura County (16.9), however, were some of the surrounding counties that did not meet the threshold, meaning these regions will need to wait at least until next week when another update will be released.

Football and water polo are two sports that will immediately be able to resume normal activities as long as they receive weekly COVID-19 testing — which will be paid for by the state. However, athletes of baseball, softball and girls and boys soccer will also be celebrating the news as it is an indicator that they will be able to play a full season.

For football, Tuesday’s news likely means that they will be cleared to have a six-game schedule, as the final season date set by the CIF-SS is April 17. With this, football now has permission to begin conditioning right away, and the first day of full-pad practices can be on Feb. 26.

Despite this news, it does not mean every school will be immediately able to begin competing again. Along with needing the county to meet the CDPH’s threshold, athletic programs will also need to be cleared through individual school districts. With several campuses still not holding in-person classes, it seems likely that some districts will keep their campuses closed throughout the entirety of the upcoming athletic season. Private schools, on the other hand, will need to make this decision without distinct intervention.

Further complicating the matter, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement that the department “will consult with the Board of Supervisors to assess the state recommendations and the timing of adopting changes to the County Health Officer Order that would allow (contact) youth sports to resume.”

Because of these complications, it will take time to figure out which programs will compete in 2021 and which will not — meaning fulfilled schedules might not be seen for several weeks. Nevertheless, Tuesday’s news will make an already cleared out path even more wide open, as L.A. County high school sports are getting nearer and nearer to a full return of play.

February 24, 2021

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Jordan Green

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