Are we ready for some football? The answer, like so many things related to education during the pandemic, is not a simple yes or no. All but the largest Northeast Texas high schools will be able to begin practice for football and volleyball on Aug. 3, the University Interscholastic League announced today.
The UIL, which governs high school sports in Texas, established different timelines for large schools (5A and 6A in the enrollment size classification system) and small schools (4A or smaller). The small schools may begin football and volleyball practice on Aug. 3, with volleyball matches able to start as soon as Aug. 10 and football games as soon as Aug. 27. Small-school tennis and cross country teams may begin the season on Aug. 17.
For the 5A and 6A schools, football and volleyball may begin practice on Sept. 7, with volleyball matches beginning as early as Sept. 14 and football games as early as Sept. 24. Large-school tennis and cross country teams may begin the season on Sept. 7. Greenville, Royse City, and Sulphur Springs high schools fall under the 5A classifcation.
Marching bands at all schools may begin practice on Sept. 7.
The UIL also published guidelines for face coverings, protocols for peoples exposed to COVID-19, how to set up shared spaces like band halls and locker rooms, and rules for spectators.
For most schools, anyone 10 years or older must wear a face covering while attending UIL events. People are exempt from the rule if they have a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. Face coverings are not required while eating or drinking or while in a body of water.
Schools in a county with 20 or fewer active COVID-19 cases that has been exempted from relevant state orders by the Texas Department of Emergency Management may also be exempt from the UIL’s face-covering rules, though the organization “strongly” encourages face coverings in exempt schools.
“Our goal in releasing this plan is to provide a path forward for Texas students and schools,” UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt said a statement. “While understanding situations change and there will likely be interruptions that will require flexibility and patience, we are hopeful this plan allows students to participate in the education-based activities they love in a way that prioritizes safety and mitigates risk of COVID-19 spread.”