After months away from in-person workouts, schools will be allowed to start conducting their offseason programs on June 8.
The UIL last Monday, announced June 8 was the date they were looking into, but did not release in further guidance at that time. On Friday, the UIL delivered the guidelines for returning. Now coaches can begin planning on how to not only implement the new rules but also how they will conduct the workouts, with each school having their own twist on summer strength and conditioning.
“We are cautiously optimistic about beginning summer strength and conditioning programs and marching band practices that safely allow students to get back to working with their coaches and directors in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year,” UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt said. “While we are eager to resume UIL activities, we must do so carefully, deliberately and with an understanding that major adjustments are needed to ensure safety. The requirements outline an approach designed to help schools mitigate risk while ensuring students are physically prepared to return to activities in the Fall, should state and federal guidelines allow.”
The biggest change in summer workouts from last year is the most obvious, no longer can a group of students and coaches be clustered together in the gym or out on the field.
“Except for reasonable safety considerations, such as spotting, students and staff must maintain at least six feet of distance from all sides when not actively exercising. When actively exercising, students and coaches must maintain at least 10 feet of distance from all sides when possible. Schools should consider requiring students who are not actively exercising, but are spotting, to wear cloth face masks.” a UIL bullet point stated.
Schools in the summer normally have open gyms for volleyball. However, activities in a gym have to be reduced to 25 percent.
Another change, schools have to provide hand sanitizer or hand-washing, however, there can’t be any shared water. The school training staff can no longer circulate the water bottles they normally hand out to athletes, at this time.
If a student or coach contracts COVID-19, everyone in the group will have to group self-isolate for two weeks. The UIL is recommending for outdoor workout groups of students no larger than 15 and indoors no more than 10. The groups should also stay together to prevent needing to isolate a bigger group in the event someone gets sick.
Sport-specific instruction will be allowed again this season. If footballs, basketballs or other sports equipment is used, the UIL is recommending regularly disinfecting to try and keep students and coaches as safe as possible.
The UIL has built three periods of no activity allowed at school facilities into their summer schedule on July 3, July 7-8 and July 20-21.
The UIL allows workouts for incoming seventh-graders through incoming seniors.
Coaches met as a staff to start a plan for workouts Tuesday morning. El Campo is planning on sending out their guidance to parents next week.
While the Ricebirds are still working out the particulars, they are ready to get back out on the field.
“There’s excitement,” El Campo Athletic Director Wayne Condra said. “They haven’t been doing anything since March (7). I think our kids are ready to get back after it. (They’re) ready to move on and do the things we need to make sure we stay safe and get back into shape.”
Louise will start their offseason program on June 8 and plan on having morning 9-11 and evening 5-7 shifts for their athletes. However, they could add an afternoon workout depending on the number of students that show up.
“Kids have been texting and calling me for the last two weeks (asking) if we’re going to do anything,” Louise Athletic Director Joe Bill said. “It was good to be able to text them back and tell them to get ready.”