It’s been a long offseason for coaches across the State of Texas with no opportunities to see their athletes or work with them during the COVID-19 crisis.
It looks like that will come to an end soon after the University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced that limited summer strength and conditioning workouts as well as limited marching band activities starting June 8.
“It’s great. I wish it was right now,” Bay City ISD Athletic Director Warren Trahan said.
That announcement was made on Tuesday, May 19, following Governor Greg Abbott’s announcement of Phase II of his plan to reopen the state.
“UIL is aware of Governor Abbott’s May 18 announcement and is actively working with appropriate state officials to allow schools to begin limited summer strength and conditioning and marching band activities on June 8, 2020,” the UIL said in a statement. “As soon as the details of that plan are finalized, UIL will release them to schools to allow time to plan and prepare for bringing students back to campus for these purposes.”
UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt said earlier this month that he was hopeful that students could get back to doing what they are accustomed to doing in the near future.
“There’s nothing we wanted more than getting our students back on the fields and courts and the classrooms this spring, but it didn’t happen,” Breithaupt said. “So, we are faced with making decisions as we move forward. Even though we’ve lost the spring seasons and the basketball tournament, we are hoping with all hope that we can resume sometime this summer with our offseason conditioning programs and non-school opportunities with coaches to work with students.”
It looks like that time has come sooner than expected.
During the school closings, coaches and band directors were only allowed to work with student virtually on a computer for only a few hours each week.
“We are ready to go as soon as we get the green light from the UIL as well as our administration,” Van Vleck ISD Athletic Director Robert Blackmon said. “We will have guidelines in place as well as following the CDC, state and local guidelines, too.”
Getting to soon work with kids again was also good news for Tidehaven ISD Athletic Director David Lucio.
“We are excited about getting to work with our kids again. Our kids have been eager to get back at it, too,” Lucio said. “We are still waiting to see the details of what we can and can’t do or what equipment we can use with them. Our facilities here at Tidehaven are second to none, so we hope to be able to put them to use.”
Lucio said Tidehaven’s facilities will allow for social distancing while getting in work.
“We have two large weight rooms that even at a 25 percent usage could fit a high number of athletes in it while keeping their distance,” Lucio said. “Our football field is top of the line field turf and can be used for a number of different types of workouts. Another project we are working on is having a beach volleyball court installed so that our girls can play volleyball outside while staying under the guidelines.”
Lucio said the Tidehaven administration and school board do whatever is necessary to make sure their athletes stay ahead of the game.
“As far as what guidelines we will follow will be determined by what the UIL has for us,” Lucio said. “We will do our part to keep the kids as spaced out as possible. We have already begun stocking up on sanitizer to help keep our equipment germ free. We will also do our best to protect our coaching staff from any exposure.”
On Friday, the UIL released specific guidelines as to how to conduct workouts. Those include:
• Attendance at workouts must be optional for students and in compliance with the rules for Summer Strength/Conditioning Programs & Sport Specific Skill Instruction noted below. In addition to on-campus workout options, schools should consider providing students guidance for working out at home or remotely away from school. This can include virtual workouts, emailed or otherwise electronically delivered workout 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 workouts.
• Fees, if any, shall be established by the superintendent and collected by the school. Any payment to coaches shall be from the school and from no other source.
• Students may not be given access to locker rooms or shower facilities. Students should report to workouts in proper gear and immediately return home to shower at end of the workout.
• During workouts, schools must have at least one staff member per twenty students in attendance to ensure appropriate social distancing, hygiene, and safety measures are implemented.
• Schools must have hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations readily available in the workout area. Students and staff should be encouraged to use it frequently.
• All surfaces in workout 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 workouts.
• There can be no shared water or food.
• Before the start of summer workouts, and at the start of every week of summer workouts, schools should consider pre-screening all students for COVID symptoms that they or others living in their house may experience. This can be completed by phone prior to the first day of workouts, in person or in writing. Students and staff must self-screen every day for COVID-19 symptoms for themselves and family members. Schools should consider taking the temperature of each student each day at the start of the conditioning sessions, if possible.
• Schools should plan for entry and exit procedures that reduce the number of students and parents congregating outside and/or mixing around the workout 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.
• If the school is planning to offer transportation for summer activities, schools should follow all TEA guidance and local guidance related to such transportation.