The University Interscholastic League has announced its revised guidelines for summer strength and conditioning and sport specific instruction programs with attention to safety in several areas due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the rules and regulations include two-hour limits per day for strength and conditioning sessions and 90 minutes per day for sport specific skill instruction from Monday to Friday, athletes will not have access to locker rooms or shower facilities and a limit of students is in place based on location.
All activities, including games, practices, workouts and rehearsals, were cancelled until further notice on April 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic. That decision came a little more than a month after the UIL had suspended those activities in mid-March with a hope to resume on May 4.
Earlier this week, the UIL said that June 8 would be the starting point for off-season workouts and details would be coming soon. The seven-page manual released Friday — which can be found at https://www.uiltexas.org/athletics/covid-19-strength-conditioning-2020 — provides limited action with an eye towards a normal resumption of the 2020-21 high school sports calendar with volleyball and cross-country practices slated to begin on August 3 and competition set to start the following week. Football practices are scheduled to start on August 5 with the first Friday of the regular season being August 28.
The sessions for strength and conditioning instruction and exercises can not involve specific sports skills or specific sports equipment while the sessions for specific sports skills can include sports equipment but contact equipment is not allowed.
Both types of sessions can be conducted until the first day of school or the first day of that sport's season, whichever comes first. There are five dates where school facilities will not be available to athletes — July 3, July 7-8 and July 20-21.
However, information provided and dates are subject to change based on COVID-19 related information. The UIL will continue to work with state officials and monitor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal guidance to determine any potential modifications to these guidelines.
“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 Dr. 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.”
During workouts, schools must have at least one staff member per 20 students in attendance to ensure social distancing, hygiene and safety measures are followed and provide hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations to be readily available.
Surfaces in workout areas must be thoroughly disinfected throughout and at the end of the day while no clothing, towels, food or water can be shared. Equipment, such as balls, should be regularly disinfected during sessions and should not be shared between groups. It must be disinfected before being used by a different group.
Competitive drills involving one or more students on offense against one or more students on defense are not allowed.
The UIL also states that at the start of every week, schools should consider pre-screening students for COVID-19 symptoms and consider taking the temperature of each student each day before sessions begin.
For sport specific activities taking place outside, athletes may not be placed in groups of larger than 15. When those activities are conducted indoors, students can not be in groups larger than 10.
Indoor workout activities can be conducted at 25 percent of maximum capacity and workout stations must be spaced to allow for more than 10 feet of distance in all directions.
If a student does test positive for COVID-19, schools are directed to follow the Texas Education Agency’s protocol for that situation.