Special to The Catholic Commentator

Catholic elementary and middle schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge have suspended extra-curricular athletics for the fall semester, according to a statement from the Catholic Schools Office.

There are approximately 25 elementary and middle schools in the diocese whose levels of academic instruction and sports programs run through the eighth grade. The suspension applies to all school sports, including football, boys and girls basketball and volleyball, as well as auxiliary sports like swimming, cross country and soccer, according to the statement.

Not all schools compete in all fall sports, so the suspension will apply differently depending on each school’s athletic program, according to diocesan school officials. The decision to suspend play resulted from a consensus on the part of the schools’ principals in collaboration with the Catholic Schools Office. 

Athletic competition at Catholic high schools is not affected because those  athletic programs are governed by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. 

 “Catholic elementary and middle schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge reopened in August with appropriate procedures in place to mitigate the chance of COVID-19 transmission on campus,” according to the statement. “The health and safety of students and staff were of primary importance in the decision to reopen school buildings in service to students and families. 

“With that focus, it has been determined that extra-curricular athletics will not be held during the first semester of this school year.  With time, it is hoped that it will be possible to consider resuming sports programs in elementary and middle schools during the spring semester.”

The statement went on to say “these are extraordinary times that have caused us to take this extraordinary action.  School leaders are grateful for the support and cooperation of all stakeholders as decisions are made to ensure safety of all.

“We share the disappointment of our students, their families, our faculties and staffs, and the communities in which our athletic teams have participated for decades. We all pray for a safe environment in the spring that will permit a return to spirited sports competition.”