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LAUSD teams begin conditioning Monday but few are ready

LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner (left) talks with Taft football coach Aron Gideon after students were allowed to return to campus.
LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner, left, talks with Taft football coach Aron Gideon after students were allowed to return to campus on Monday for conditioning workouts.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

The good news for Los Angeles Unified School District athletes is that they’ve been given clearance to begin voluntary conditioning workouts with their coaches on campuses. The bad news is very few schools are ready to welcome athletes on campuses until later this week or longer because of delays in fulfilling requirements needed to step onto campus.

Among the requirements for students and coaches is the need to take a COVID-19 test at least three days before being allowed on campus. Students also need to complete a physical exam and have their parents sign a waiver form. Also it was announced on Tuesday that the students will need a weekly COVID-19 test to participate.

One school that was ready to begin workouts on Monday was Woodland Hills Taft, which had 21 players participate in conditioning drills. LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner, wearing a blue mask, made an appearance on the field and asked players what they thought about returning to campus.

“It’s feels great,” receiver Wellington Bristow said.

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“It’s amazing to be surrounded by my teammates,” quarterback Ayan Dutt said.

Added coach Aron Gideon, “It’s like Christmas being able to see each other.”

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VIDEO | 01:52
LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner clears the path for athletic conditioning

Workouts on LAUSD campuses can begin Monday.

Taft was one of the first schools last summer to launch car parades to help students celebrate graduation during the pandemic. Taft athletes will be among the first to use a new LAUSD app developed by Microsoft to help clear students to come onto campus. Beutner said the app will become available in beta form later this week and athletes will be the first to use it.

Taft had players fill out a Google document at least one hour before arrival on campus answering health questions on Monday. Their temperatures were taken and they were grouped in pods no larger than 12 while engaging in physical distancing. Parents participated in a conference call explaining the rules last week.

“It’s a lot of work,” Gideon said. “Fortunately we’ve been able to pull things together.”

Any sports team in LAUSD is allowed to have voluntary workouts, but campuses will be strictly controlled with procedures and separate entrances and exits. Taft set up cones and signs to help everyone understand where to go.

Venice football coach Angelo Gasca said he hopes his players can begin workouts by Thursday.

“It’s going to take time to figure out the logistics,” he said. “We’re told to have five to 12 players in a pod. Three peas in a pod isn’t good enough.”

Gasca said one player has chosen not to participate after his parent declined to sign a COVID-19 waiver form.

Garfield football coach Lorenzo Hernandez said some of his parents also voiced concerns about the waiver form, which could lead to a drop in participation. He plans to begin workouts Saturday.

Birmingham, an independent charter school on LAUSD land in Van Nuys, began conditioning two weeks ago with no testing required. Woodland Hills El Camino Real, another charter school, began conditioning Thursday with only coaches required to be tested.

While workouts are allowed, there is still no indication when games would start among LAUSD schools. Beutner said he doesn’t believe any competitive games will take place while Los Angeles County is in the purple Tier 1, indicating widespread community transmission of the virus. The City Section schedule has official practices beginning Dec. 14 and football games starting Jan. 8.

Ron Nocetti, the executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation, said Monday, “Until we receive guidance from the governor’s office or the California Department of Public Health that we’re not allowed to begin as scheduled, our plan is to be starting in December.”


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