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Opening plans revealed

UIL announces guidelines for return to athletics

The road to getting prep sports back into gear was given a map to follow last Friday by the UIL in the area of what schools will be allowed to do over the summer. The current coronavirus pandemic that has shut down Texas prep sports since mid-March had many wondering when the light to start up again would turn green.

The latest UIL announcement gives schools the option to begin summer strength and conditioning programs with their athletes on June 8. Sport specific training may start on that date as well. These types of programs are not new, but numerous changes to them have been made to ensure safety.

The start date allowed by the UIL means a lot of decisions have to be made and plans put in place in a short time to ensure that safety protocols can be met.

La Joya ISD Athletic Director Victor Garza addressed the plan this way. “(It) allows our kids the opportunity to be prepared, but at the same time to be safe.”

Those opportunities include the chance for coaches and students to be back together; something that hasn’t happened since the UIL suspended all athletic activity. The basics of the plan allow for a two hour strength and conditioning period Monday through Friday along with time for sport specific work.

The safety protocols put limitations on what types of activities can and cannot take place along with measures that ensure adequate supervision, social distancing and reduced personal interaction. Weight rooms, for example, will only be allowed to operate at 25% capacity. Guidelines regarding sanitation and screening are also addressed.

Sharyland ISD Athletic Director Richard Thompson welcomed the news from the UIL. “I know that our kids are anxious to get back and of course I know our coaches are anxious to get back. It is going to take a great deal of planning.”

Mission CISD Athletic Director Leticia Ibarra spoke about how that planning goes beyond her department. “We have to set forward some safety procedures with our secondary schools to see how best to take all of the precautions that are needed. We are ordering wipes, gloves (and) masks for our staff and setting up schedules with maintenance. It takes all of us working together to set up the best possible processes and procedures.”

Teamwork will be a key. “On the local level we have to work with our upper administration and our local district,” said Garza, citing the importance of everyone being on the same page.

“This is unchartered territory,” said Ibarra when talking about all that will have to go into getting everything set into place.

“Our main concern,” said Thompson, “is keeping our kids and coaches safe.” A view all three of the ADs expressed.
The UIL noted that schools should consider providing some form of workouts that can be done by students who choose not to attend and that future events could alter any of the plans announced. The agency stated that it will continue to work with state officials and monitor CDC and other federal guidance to determine any potential modifications.

A complete list of the UIL guidelines can be found here.

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