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Mission CISD approves return to athletics

The local prep athletic scene got a big boost from Mission CISD administration this week when they announced plans to re-open the district’s high schools for the purposes of varsity athletics. The re-opening date is set for Monday, September 28.

“After cautiously and meticulously assessing all data gathered, the decision has been made to take a measured return to in-person athletics by starting with our varsity teams,” explained Mission CISD Superintendent Dr. Carol G. Perez in a statement released Tuesday.

The move follows weeks of uncertainty that has seen one other local district (La Joya ISD) cancel their fall activities and the Mission CISD itself extending at-home remote learning for all grade levels until November.
Concern over the possibility of losing fall sports recently led a group of parents to organize a petition signing and hold a rally outside of the Mission CISD administration building in support of having the district grant the approval.

The district also recently sent out a survey to the parents of students in both the high schools and middle schools who had children enrolled in athletic classes for the fall to gauge their interest in having their children participate in athletics during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has altered the educational system since schools and activities were shut down in March.

Results of that survey were presented at a school board meeting last week, and although only a small percentage of those surveyed responded to it; those that did were overwhelmingly in favor of allowing their children the opportunity to participate.

Tuesday’s statement from the district went on to give assurance that the district would be taking appropriate safeguards based upon the standards of the CDC, UIL, the state and local officials. Dr. Perez said this would include daily screenings, frequent and regular disinfecting to go along with masks and physical distancing.

The district was able to hold in-person graduation ceremonies at Tom Landry Hall of Fame Stadium in May and both Mission High and Mission Veterans Memorial ran summer strength and conditioning programs for their athletes during the month of June.

The programs were halted in July when a University Interscholastic League (UIL) directive recommended that such activities stop for a two week period from July 1 to July 13. On July 14, an order from Dr. Ivan Melendez, the Hidalgo County Local Health Authority, shut down campuses until September 27. Neither school has had any activities since.

On July 21, the UIL granted permission and guidelines for schools across Texas to begin fall sports in August for Classes 1A – 4A while 5A and 6A schools were able to start last week. Several Valley schools have recently resumed activities on their campuses.

Even though they have yet to re-open that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any activity among MCISD school administrators, coaches and athletes. Coaches have continued to send at-home workouts to their players to keep them prepared for an eventual start and now that classes have begun, players and coaches can meet virtually for further training. The need to reschedule contests has also been in the works.

The loss of the three high schools that make up La Joya ISD brought about changes to the districts the Mission CISD high schools are a part of, necessitating, among other things, new schedules. District 31-6A, of which Mission High is a member, went from a nine team district to seven with the loss of La Joya High and Juarez-Lincoln High. District 30-5A, a six team district that includes Mission Veterans for all of their sports except football, is down to five for cross country and volleyball with the loss of La Joya Palmview. District 16-5A Div. II, which Mission Vets is a member in for football, currently remains unchanged at nine teams.

The delayed start dates set by the UIL and the deadlines concerning when districts must certify the teams that have qualified for the post season will also mean that teams will not play the usual number of games they typically do in a season. Neither the Eagles nor Patriots football teams, for example, will play a 10 game schedule this fall.

The reopening statement indicated that the first competitions for Mission CISD teams could begin as soon as October 6th with a volleyball scrimmage.

The first contests in football are scheduled for later in the month. Mission Veterans is currently planning to open their season on October 16th at Raymondville while Mission High is tentatively set to host Edinburg High on October 23rd.

Those games, as well as any other contests this fall will be held in a much different environment compared to previous years. The statement released by Mission CISD this week noted that when competitions do begin, audiences will be limited to two guests per athlete and no other student groups like bands and cheerleaders will be allowed to attend. Audience members at Mission CISD venues will be screened, sanitation stations will be provided, distance standards will be enforced, and masks will be required.

There are other local school districts that still have reopening decisions to make that could affect the situation as it currently stands along with what the news from the pandemic front brings us as well.

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