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LBUSD Closed For Summer, Evaluating 2020-21 Sports Plans

The Long Beach Unified School District announced last week that in-person graduation ceremonies are officially off for the class of 2020, and that summer school and other programs will not take place on physical campuses this summer, with a few limited exceptions.

There had been some hope of a delayed in-person graduation ceremony, but with no clear end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s impossible to schedule a large gathering even for the Fall or holiday season.

The other announcement was that while the 2020-21 school year is schedule to begin on Sept. 1, the district anticipates it will be something other than “business as usual,” with plans to survey the community to gather thoughts.

Because the district release read “During the summer, we will not be able to allow for sporting activities or any large student or staff gatherings until further notice,” some panicked calls and text messages flew around between the Moore League’s athletic directors and their football, volleyball, cross country, water polo, and tennis coaches.

The Fall sports season actually begins earlier than the school year, with most teams playing two or three football games before school begins. District officials clarified the press release to state that those games, and other Fall activities beginning prior to Sept. 1, have not been canceled.

“We’re evaluating it and taking advisement from the health department and the CIF,” said Dr. Jill Baker, who takes over as LBUSD superintendent on August 1.

CIF Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod said he’s been in touch with the LBUSD and many other districts about contingency plans that could be adhered to if the start of sports are delayed.

“We have had many discussions with schools/school districts but those have primarily been about the start of the school year,” he said. “I hope everyone realizes that high school athletics will resume once academics have resumed and schools/school districts move forward after school starts in whatever format that might be.”

Wigod was glad to hear the district’s clarification that games haven’t been canceled yet, as no other schools or school districts in the state have formally canceled games as of now, with more than three months to go until the start of the season.

“Our district fully supports that we want to have athletics,” said Moore League secretary Lisa Ulmer. “It’s really all on our public health department. What we’re doing is looking at different scenarios to ensure we can have all our sports this year, even if it’s on a modified schedule. Nothing’s in stone right now. Usually we know what we’re doing a year in advance; all of a sudden we don’t, and that’s hard. Everyone wants an answer, and it’s only May. We don’t have a firm date yet, we’re very fluid, but nothing has been canceled.”

LBUSD Assistant Superintendent of High Schools Jay Camerino helped lead a Zoom call with the district’s athletic and activities directors and leaders to clarify that sports weren’t being canceled.

“Our goal is to have as much normalcy for our community as possible,” he said. “We’re going to follow the recommendations of the public health officials and keep working on it.

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Mike Guardabascio
Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.
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