LAUSD chief puts brakes on Dec. 14 start day for high school sports season

LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner speaks from a lecturn.
LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Austin Beutner told participants at a district meeting Friday that that there will be no sports competition on Dec. 14, when the City Section allows fall practices and competitions to officially begin.

That’s the day City Section football, volleyball, water polo and cross-country teams were supposed to launch practices. The delay likely will push back football games scheduled to begin Jan. 8 and other events scheduled for December and January.

Beutner wants to find a way to have athletes begin voluntary conditioning on campuses, according to two school administrators who were informed of his talk. City Section coaches have been preparing for conditioning opportunities but haven’t received permission from the superintendent. Coaches and athletes would have to be tested for the coronavirus before being allowed on their campuses, according to a tentative plan presented to football coaches Monday.

For months, Los Angeles parents have held on to hope that public school campuses would reopen soon. It’s unlikely to happen before January, officials say.

The obstacles to having a high school sports season in 2020-21 keep piling up. Spring athletes lost their season when games were canceled last March. The California Interscholastic Federation, which governs high school sports in California, postponed the fall season because of COVID-19 concerns and closed campuses.


High schools have been waiting for updated guidance on sports practices from the state Department of Health and local health authorities. Los Angeles County remains in the state’s purple Tier 1, which indicates the virus is widespread, making it difficult to start playing competitive sports. Some parents have allowed their children travel to Arizona, Nevada and Utah for youth sports competitions.

Jason Negro, the coach of football power Bellflower St. John Bosco, a private school, said he would be willing to move practices and games to a site outside Los Angeles County if that’s what it would take to play games.

“We have discussed it,” he said. “We will do anything we have to do to allow our team to play.”