The UIL released its COVID-19 guidelines on Friday afternoon for schools to begin strength and conditioning and sport-specific instruction on June 8.
The news comes after the UIL sent a memo to coaches on Tuesday stating it had been working with state officials to allow teams to return to some form of organized activity.
“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 in a news release. “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.”
In its guidelines, the UIL listed 12 different requirements for schools to hold workouts. The first of which is that attendance at workouts must be optional for students.
Schools must have at least one staff member per 20 students to ensure appropriate social distancing, hygiene and safety measures.
Students will also not be required or allowed to make up missed days or workouts. Athletes will also not be given access to locker rooms or showers.
The UIL advises that students return home to shower.
Schools must have hand sanitizer and hand washing stations readily available in workout areas.
All surfaces in workout areas must be thoroughly disinfected throughout and at the end of each day. There can also be no clothing or towels laundered on site.
One of the most challenging points for schools could be no shared food or water. Most teams in the state, especially football, use tanks filled with hundreds of gallons of water with various shared nozzles.
For now, shared water will be prohibited, and schools will have to find a workaround.
The UIL also recommends prescreening all students for COVID-19 symptoms before summer workouts start. The UIL added that screenings can be completed by phone.
Schools also must plan for reducing the number of students and parents at entrances and exits to avoids crowds congregating in close quarters. The UIL recommended staggering start and end times to ensure social distancing.
For strength and conditioning activities, sessions may be no more than two consecutive hours per day, Monday through Friday. Students also cannot attend more than one session per day, and only coaches for students in grades 7-12 from that coach’s attendance zone can conduct sessions.
Except for spotting and other safety considerations, students and staff must maintain at least 6 feet of separation on all sides when not exercising. If exercising, students and coaches must be at least 10 feet apart.
Indoor workouts can only be conducted at 25% capacity. Schools also are advised to limit the total number of participants based on available space to allow for social distancing.
Workout stations must be spaced 10 feet apart and disinfected before and after each use.
Sport-specific instruction may be conducted in addition to strength and conditioning sessions, and no student may attend more than 90 minutes per day of sport-specific skill instruction, Monday through Friday.
For football, contact equipment (pads and helmets) are not allowed. School shirts, shorts and shoes may be provided but not washed on site.
No competitive drills involving one or more students are allowed.
For outdoor instruction, students and staff must maintain at least 6 feet of distance when not actively exercising. When exercising, they must be 10 feet apart.
Students also cannot be in groups larger than 15 total students. Balls and other equipment should be regularly disinfected during workout sessions.
If a positive COVID-19 case is identified among a participant, whether staff or student, the group they worked with must be removed while all members self-isolate. If the confirmed individual regularly had contact outside that group, then all students and staff who came into contact with the confirmed individual must be removed for two weeks.
The UIL lists ways to mitigate those risks, including having students remain in a single group to minimize the contact they have with different people.
If a student or coach experiences symptoms of COVID-19, they must self-isolate until a series of conditions are met.
The individual must wait 72 hours until the resolution of fever without fever-reducing medication, show improvement in respiratory symptoms and have 10 days pass since the first symptom appeared.
If an individual has symptoms that could indicate a case of COVID-19 and does not get evaluated by a medical professional or get tested, they are assumed to have the coronavirus. They may not return to workouts until the above three conditions are met.
Any student or coach living with someone who experiences COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of if they test positive, should self-isolate for two weeks. If they do not experience symptoms during that period, they may return to summer workouts.
There has been no organized activity since the middle of March, when the UIL suspended the boys basketball state tournament, and subsequently all other activities.
The UIL canceled the remainder of the spring sports season and state championships on April 17.