By Callie Caplan
The Dallas Morning News
Three days after announcing it will allow teams to resume summer programs June 8, the UIL released guidelines and restrictions for schools, coaches and players to follow amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
In its traditional allowance, the UIL will permit a maximum of two hours per day, Monday through Friday, for summer strength and conditioning sessions.
The organization will also allow an additional 90 minutes per day, Monday through Friday of sport-specific skill instruction — with no more than 60 minutes per day in a given sport. That’s an increase from the two hours per week of non-contact, sport-specific instruction the UIL instituted for the first time last summer.
Workouts, however, will operate differently as teams aim to re-acclimate and condition athletes without compromising participant and community health.
Before the start of summer workouts, and at the start of every week of summer workouts, the UIL said “schools should consider” pre-screening all students for COVID-19 symptoms that they or others in their living quarters may be experiencing.
Via phone, writing or in-person communication, the review will consider symptoms of cough, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, lost of taste or smell, diarrhea, feeling feverish or a measured temperature at least 100 degrees and/or known contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.
The UIL also suggests schools lead students in workout groups no larger than 15 people outdoors and 10 people indoors to ensure limited exposure if someone becomes infected.
Attendance at all workouts will be voluntary, though coaches can track attendance. Students will not have access to locker rooms or showers. Instead, they’ll be required to arrive in proper gear and expected to shower immediately upon returning home.
Schools must have at least one staff member in attendance per 10 students to ensure players maintain proper social distancing, hygiene and safety measures, including frequent hand washing and sanitizing at stations available in the workout area.
Staff members are expected to disinfect workout areas at the end of each day and each piece of equipment after an individual use.
The UIL also suggests schools plan entry and exit procedures for facilities to reduce a congregation of students and parents at workout areas and parking lots. This could include staggering start and end times, assigning specific entry and exit points or requiring students to enter one at a time and at a distance.
Specific to UIL strength and conditioning workouts, participants must maintain at least six feet of distance from all sides when not actively exercising and 10 feet when actively exercising. The UIL said schools “should consider requiring” students who are spotting to wear cloth face masks.
Indoor workout activities will be allowed up to 25% capacity, and the UIL will require workout stations to be spaced at least 10 feet apart in all directions.
During sport-specific sessions, teams may use equipment, but the UIL will prohibit contact equipment. Shorts, shirts and shoes may be provided at the school’s discretion, but cannot be laundered on-site.
Teams may not conduct offense vs. defense drills, including one-on-one work. For example, football teams may run separate offensive and defensive drills, but not play 7-on-7. Basketball players may participate in drills, but not against a defender.
Equipment, such as sports balls, should be disinfected “regularly” during workouts, the UIL said, and should not be shared between working groups of students before a cleaning.
The UIL also provided guidelines for response should a player, coach or family member test positive for COVID-19.
Should a student or staff member test positive, the group with which the individual was exercising and all others with whom the individual had been in contact must be removed from sessions and self-isolate.
The individual can return when at least three days (72 hours) have passed since resolving fever without medication and showing improvement in respiratory symptoms and when at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
Any student or staff member living with someone who experiences any symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of positive test result, should self-isolate for two weeks, the UIL said.
The UIL’s summer strength and conditioning calendar for high school participants will run from June 8 through either the first day of the sports season or the first day of school, whichever is earlier.
The UIL will restrict activity July 3, July 7-8 and July 20-21.
Coaches throughout the Dallas area have preached caution and adherence to UIL protocol as in-person activity soon resumes for the first time since mid-March.
That included outcry on social media Thursday in response to a third-party’s announcement of a high school 7-on-7 tournament this summer in College Station.
The State 7on7 Organization has already canceled its 7-on-7 tournament series that would’ve run through late June, and the UIL on Friday prohibited 7-on-7 work during limited summer coaching sessions.
“We’re not going to break that rule just to go out there and let kids play,” said Doug Stephens, Rowlett’s head football coach and the State 7on7 Organization executive director. “There’s a bigger picture involved, the safety of our kids.
“We want to make sure that we have a football season, first of all. Let’s talk about that. That’s a little bit bigger target area right there. I just hope we don’t do anything as high school coaches to mess that up.”