In a conclusive update Tuesday, July 21, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) schedule for the upcoming 2020-2021 sports season was revised to decrease the risk of infection from COVID-19 as well as the possibility of spreading between student-athletes.
These stipulations set by the UIL go into effect on August 1, 2020.
The goal of the new calendar provides a delay in seasons starting for 5A and 6A school conferences, which are primarily located in densely populated cities. The divisions of 1A-4A are not as restrictive, allowing for their seasons to attempt to start on schedule.
While understanding that not all communities are affected by COVID-19 in the same way, this newly proposed calendar provides for flexibility in local districts for determining the best action possible.
Football and volleyball are both set for practice to be available by August 3 for the 1A through 4A conferences, while the official start for football games is August 27 and volleyball games August 10.
For further information please visit the UIL official website, where there is a chart listing the different activities and conferences.
However, due to the flexibility of the schedule and the independent school districts having a say in their seasons on participation from students, some schools may have a difficult time scheduling teams to play against for regularly scheduled games. The schools may very well have to play against different conferences to fill slots on each of their game calendars.
Though difficult times are ahead, coaches throughout Texas should be optimistic when approaching these solutions.
Included in these new guidelines on the official website are statements pertaining to the audience for games. They simply state that face coverings will be required for Texas stadiums and the maximum capacity is limited to 50 percent of the stadium with proper 6 ft. spacing according to social distancing regulation. Included in that 50 percentile are the Marching band members, drill teams, and others that regularly staff the stadium.
Another question that is covered online is the eligibility for athletic participation by UIL standards, but the guidelines do emphasize that schools have the right to implement their separate local policies and additional requirements.
The UIL prompts districts to plan for drastic changes that could occur at any time, even if it disrupts their seasons.
The outline on the website also includes guidelines on safety procedures to implement during sport-specific training or strength and conditioning exercises. These will follow the same outline from the previously released guidelines for the summer programs.
Adding to these regulations, Henderson will require students to strictly follow the newest Back-To-School Update released on their website, which emphasizes social distancing and mask procedures, as well as prescreening before active participation.
Anyone coming to campus will be required to wear a face mask at all times, for all personnel, if not actively participating in exercises. Students will not be allowed to share any items, including water bottles, face towels, or personnel items, etc. Students will be asked to bring water and all necessary items for participation with them for every practice session.
There will be a limited 50 percent capacity for the weight room. The students will be split into smaller groups set for a rotation through the weight room and the exercise areas outside. Between each rotation, there will be a disinfecting stage, that way there will be a relative safety net on exposure between groups of youths.
Students and coaches will be required to use hand sanitizer at evenly timed intervals and whenever they might be exposed to possible germs. This update is strict for health safety, but will also allow for schools to continue their respective sports seasons as normally as possible.
Lockers will be available for use during this time but will be regularly cleaned.