Sherman, Tioga alter workouts after positive COVID-19 tests

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Because of positive coronavirus tests, Sherman and Tioga have been forced to change their summer workout schedules.

A pair of Grayson County athletic programs have made changes to their summer workout schedules because of positive coronavirus tests.

The Sherman ISD has moved its summer athletic workouts to a virtual setting after a coach informed the school district about a positive coronavirus test while Tioga ISD cancelled activities for the next two weeks following positive tests by family members of two athletes.

Tioga athletic director and head football coach Cody Patton made the following announcement Monday morning on Twitter: “I apologize for the following message but as a safety precaution and to protect the health and well being of our student-athletes; All Tioga Summer Workouts including sports specific are cancelled for the next two weeks. We will try to resume on July 13th if possible.”

At Sherman a small group of students and employees having direct contact with the coach were immediately notified over the weekend, a letter was sent to the parents of all student-athletes to notify them of the situation and led to the alteration of the off-season program.

“Although guidance from the Grayson County Health Department does not require the district to suspend the Summer Strength & Conditioning workouts, out of an abundance of caution, the district will transition to a virtual workout format on June 29 through July 3,” Sherman ISD said in a statement. “Virtual workouts will continue during the previously scheduled off week, July 6 through July 10. The district plans to resume the in-person Summer Strength & Conditioning workout schedule for all athletes on July 13.”

Both schools had held three weeks of in-person workouts after the University Interscholastic League allowed schools to resume off-season activities earlier this month.

But the Bearcats and Bulldogs became just the latest athletic programs across the state in dealing with the recent resurgence of positive coronavirus tests.

Next week Sherman and Tioga were not scheduled to hold any sessions because the UIL had made July 7-8 part of five dates to keep facilities unavailable for athletes and so the Bearcats and Bulldogs were going to take off the entire week as a follow-up to the Fourth of July holiday weekend, in which July 3 is also a blacked-out date on the UIL’s calendar.

If there are no both, Sherman will return to its in-person workouts on July 13 through the end of the month as part of the lead-up to what will hopefully be the start of the fall sport seasons — volleyball, cross-country and football.

In order for students to avoid missing any more time off in light of the positive test, Sherman will be using the website so that athletes can continue to train at home in a safe environment. Rack Performance provides coaches with an easy-to-use online tool that creates, customizes and tracks a strength and conditioning program. Workouts will be posted each day at 9 a.m.

Since the summer workouts began, school districts around Texas have had to deal with positive tests in some form or fashion. The first came less than a week into the resumption of activities and the numbers of those programs affected have increased steadily.

Sherman was one of more than a dozen to deal with this over the weekend and some school districts, like Lake Dallas and Garland, have preemptively shut down workouts despite them not producing any positive tests.

Other programs have stopped due to either an athlete, coach or an athlete’s family member testing positive, either until July 13 or indefinitely — like Harlingen chose to do on Sunday. Some schools, such as Bonham, have kept their normal schedule after isolating those who came in contact with a positive case. West Orange-Stark has had multiple positive tests and still continued workouts.

Schools were allowed to begin those workouts on June 8, a nearly three-month gap without any UIL activities after the state’s governing body initially suspended action in mid-March and then extended that to an indefinite cancellation before announcing off-season conditioning guidelines on May 22.

Among the rules and regulations included 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 would not have access to locker rooms or shower facilities, provide their own food and water and a limit of students was in place based on location.

The guidelines were given with an eye towards a normal resumption of the 2020-21 high school sports calendar — volleyball and cross-country practices are still 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 UIL has stated it 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 or the potential start of the calendar in 35 days.

Less than a day after workouts began, the UIL adjusted some rules which went into effect on June 22 — teams can now have 50 percent of their indoor capacity, up from the original 25 percent allowed, and the number of students working in outdoor groups went from a maximum of 15 to a maximum of 25 and those in indoor groups increased from a max of 10 students to a max of 15 students. The ratio of needing one coach per 20 students in attendance has been removed.

The UIL also altered its wording in regards to cleaning equipment, saying those surfaces should be thoroughly disinfected before and after use. The initial guideline said that equipment must be thoroughly disinfected.

“Sherman ISD will continue to take every precaution to keep our coaches and student-athletes safe during this time,” the statement said.