UIL releases guidelines for summer programs amid eased COVID-19 restrictions


TEXAS and MARTIN COUNTY - The University Interscholastic League released its requirements and guidelines to begin limited UIL summer strength and conditioning and marching band practices starting on June 8 as restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic begin to be lifted across the state of Texas.

Among the guidelines for athletics are:

- Strength and conditioning session shall be no more than two consecutive hours per day, Monday through Friday.

- A student shall attend no more than 90 minutes per day of sport specific skill instruction with no more than 60 minutes per day in a given sport.

- Indoor workout activities can be conducted up to a maximum of 25% capacity and in groups of no larger than 10 total students.

- For outdoor activities, student may be played in working groups no larger than 15 total students, while maintaining appropriate distance from other working groups.

- Students may not be given access to locker room or shower facilities.

- No competitive drills involving one or more students on offensive against one or more students on defensive may be conducted.

- The school must have one coach on the field for every 20 students and students must maintain at least 10 feet of distance from all sides during activities.

For more on the athletic guidelines, go to https://www.uiltexas.org/athletics/covid-19-information.

Among the guidelines for band are:

- Attendance at practices and rehearsals must be optional for students and in compliance with the rules for Summer Marching Band Practices and Rehearsals. In addition to on-campus options, schools should consider providing students guidance for practicing at home or remotely away from school. This can include virtual practices, emailed or otherwise electronically delivered practice instructions, or any delivery model approved by the local school district.

- Attendance records shall be kept, however, students shall not be required or allowed to make up missed days or practices.

- Students should report to practices and rehearsals in proper attire and immediately return home to change clothes or shower at the end of the session.

- During practices and rehearsals, staff must ensure appropriate social distancing, hygiene, and safety measures are implemented.

- Schools must have hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations readily available in the practice and rehearsal area. Students and staff should be encouraged to use it frequently.

- All surfaces in practice and rehearsal areas must be thoroughly disinfected throughout and at the end of each day.

- No clothing or towels may be laundered on site or shared during practices and rehearsals.

- There can be no shared water or food.

- Schools should plan for entry and exit procedures that reduce the number of students and parents congregating outside and/or mixing around the practice areas and parking areas. Consider staggering start and end times, assigning students to entries and exits to ensure even distribution of students entering/exiting at each entry point, providing guidance to students to enter one at a time and wait six feet apart outside the entrance.

- Students and staff must maintain at least six feet of distance from all sides when not actively practicing or rehearsing. When actively practicing and rehearsing, students and staff must maintain at least ten feet of distance from all sides. Schools should consider requiring students who are not actively practicing to wear cloth face masks.

- Indoor practices and rehearsals can be conducted up to a maximum of 25% capacity.

- Schools should limit the total number of participants based on available space to allow for the appropriate distancing between students and staff.

- Any equipment must be thoroughly disinfected before and after each use. If a student uses a piece of equipment, that equipment must be thoroughly disinfected before another student uses it. Schools should limit the use of equipment to further reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

* Schools should consider having students remain with a single group or cohort to minimize the number of students and staff that must isolate if a case is confirmed.

For full information on the band practice and rehearsal guidelines, go to https://www.uiltexas.org/music/covid-19-information.

Area athletic directors said being allowed to have limited summer strength and conditioning workouts next month will be a big step toward returning to competition this fall.

Stanton head football coach and athletic director Cody Hogan stressed the importance of having some sort of strength and conditioning in the summer to be more prepared for the start of football practices that are tentatively scheduled to begin on Aug. 3.

“It’s huge,” said Hogan of UIL’s announcement. “As much as I’m excited about having the kids back in a controlled setting for strength and conditioning, just to talk to them and converse with them in person is big. This is going to make all the difference in the world from a safety standpoint heading into August practices.”

The limited summer strength and conditioning work will hopefully be part of a big picture as high school athletics teams aim to get back to action this fall semester.

Just looking ahead could be a daunting task, especially if social distancing guidelines are still in place.

Hogan said until he’s told otherwise, he’s going to be preparing for the upcoming season just like he normally would and will adjust accordingly. He added that at a smaller school like his, it would be a little easier to separate the athletes.

At Grady High School, athletic director and head basketball coach Chris Short plans to meet with superintendent Leandro Gonzales next week.

“We are going to do what is best and safest for our kids and staff,” stated Short. “The kids need something to do but is has to be done in a safe environment.”