LOS ANGELES (CBS) — LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines is demanding answers Friday after coaches and teachers failed to cancel a high school cross country meet during extreme heat Thursday afternoon.
Fire spokesman Erik Scott says 12 young people in all, mostly student athletes, were evaluated for heat-related illnesses Thursday afternoon.
About 800 athletes were participating in the race sponsored by the Los Angeles Unified School District, which released the following statement Friday:
“The safety and well-being of all students of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is paramount to our mission. Consequently, the District has policies and procedures to ensure that objective is met when students are involved in physical activities at elevated temperatures.
To counteract heat stress, it is the responsibility of Los Angeles Unified School District personnel to pay attention to weather conditions and use common sense and good judgment for modifying student activities. Authorities in the fields of medicine, environmental and occupational hazards, and safety have thoroughly studied heat stress and have issued guidelines pertaining to modifying physical activity and school or work schedules. The District has followed these guidelines in its directions to schools and coaches.
Prior to yesterday’s cross country meet, participating coaches were sent communications reminding them of the need to hydrate their student athletes. Announcements continued to be made throughout the cross country meet reminding coaches to keep their students well hydrated.
Additionally, given the weather conditions at the time of the race, coaches and student athletes were given the opportunity to not participate in Thursday’s race. Precautions, such as allowing runners to carry water bottles throughout the race, were in place. Two paramedics were at the meet as part of the District management of the event.
A total of 25 out of the 40 schools participating at the meet were from the LAUSD. Prior to commencement of the race, the participating coaches met to discuss if they wanted to proceed with the event. The decision to proceed with the meet was based on District guidelines and the coaches’ assessment of their students’ preparedness. However, after several races had been run, a few students started to become distressed and the meet was immediately canceled at 4 p.m. The District’s response was quick, effective and responsible.
A complete account of yesterday’s situation is being currently being reviewed by the District and a report will be prepared for Superintendent Cortines.”
The National Weather Service says Woodland Hills recorded a high of 97 degrees Thursday.
Air quality was in the moderate range in the San Fernando Valley which means that unusually sensitive people should consider limiting prolonged outdoor exertion.
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