School systems in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes have shut down all summer activities until further notice as they deal with the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement from the Lafourche school system came Wednesday, a day after a similar declaration from Terrebonne Parish. The Terrebonne announcement of the shutdown came in conjunction with the school system saying schools in their parish will not open until after Labor Day. No decision has yet been made concerning any altering of the school calendar in Lafourche parish.
River Parish public schools in St. Charles, St. James, and St. John parishes are still operating under the guidelines imposed when the state first entered Phase Two earlier in the summer.
“I get it. It has to be about safety,” said South Terrebonne football coach Archie Adams. “It can’t be about the political side. I understand all that. As coaches – and rightfully so – we see it differently. We don’t want to put anybody in harm’s way but it kind of puts more pressure on us because we’ve got to play football. I’m not just talking about football. Dance, cheer, choir, putting on plays, you name it, it goes on and on and on. We’ve got to experience that. I know you have to be safe and that’s people’s jobs, that comes first.
“It breaks your heart that there is even a chance that some of these kids can’t do what we did. You hope and pray these numbers get better and the virus goes through a process of a vaccine, so even if it’s abbreviated, we can have some type of season for these kids.”
The sentiment is the same in Lafourche parish.
“It’s definitely a situation where you are disappointed,” said Central Lafourche’s Aaron Meyer, who like Adams, is in his first year as his school’s head football coach. “You can’t be with the kids and build that relationship and be able to have those practices. At the same time, you have to understand that we’ve got to stay safe and everybody is kind of in the same boat – district foes and district teams are facing those same practice days. We still kind of hope that things will work out in our favor for us to even have a season.”
While things are status quo in the River Parishes, coaches there are emphatic to what is going on in neighboring parishes.
“I hope they are doing that based on the fact they are trying to keep kids from getting sick.” Said Hahnville’s Daniel Luquet, another first-year head coach at his school. “I hope they don’t have any kids over there who have COVID. It’s like I said from the get-go, parishes and schools in each parish have to take their kids into consideration and do what they think for best them.
“It’s concerning just because you don’t want to be that next parish that shuts things down. All I can keep doing is tell my kids to wear masks and hopefully these numbers across the state can come down a little bit. At this point, it’s not just about football. It’s about the health of this community.”
The same holds true in St. John parish.
“It’s worry – not panic, but definitely worry. You hate to end it,” said West St. John’s Brandon Walters, referring to the summer workout stoppage in other parishes. “We’ve gotten off to a pretty decent start. We are young, so for me, it’s good to get our kids out there just to get to teach them. We have been doing all we can to follow the guidelines and practice all the necessary kids safe.”
The moves do not come as a surprise to Robert Valdez, St. James athletic director and football coach.
“With all of the positive (coronavirus) situations, we are fighting an enemy that has no face. I think it is better to err on the side of caution. I think it’s a great move just to be cautious by those school districts. We are also trying to be as cautious as we can with our kids to allow them to play. This is the new normal. It’s a sign of the times.”
Although St. James Parish schools continue to operate under the Phase Two guidelines, Lutcher’s Dwain Jenkins is well acquainted with the disruptions that come along with dealing with COVID-19.
“We had a couple of days that we missed when we had to investigate a positive case,” the Lutcher athletic director and football coach said. “We were fortunate that it was a very small group of people that were impacted so we didn’t have to shut anything down for any extended period of time.
“To say we haven’t been impacted by it over the course of the summer would be false. We’ve had tons of kids that have missed extended periods of time because a family member was exposed. It is what we are dealing with right now. Attendance has been sparse at times with different groups of kids just because of how it’s impact their family or a neighbor. It’s par for the course for what we are dealing with.”