UIL modifies 2020-21 Activities Calendar, provides updates to COVID-19 guidelines

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A pylon displays a sign for the UIL state football championships in the end zone in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

SAN ANGELO, Texas — The University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced its long-awaited updates to the 2020-21 Activities Calendar and risk mitigation guidelines in an effort to adjust to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The UIL released the updated calendar on Tuesday, which reflects different start dates for practices and games based on geographic location.

“These adjustments reflect the public health situation at this time and the varying numbers of COVID-19 cases across different geographic areas of the state,” the UIL said in a press release. “This plan provides a delay for schools in highly-populated metro areas, primarily conferences 5A-6A, given the challenges with COVID-19 those communities are facing, while providing schools in other areas, primarily 1A-4A, an opportunity to start seasons on schedule.”

Classes 5A and 6A will start practice on Sept. 7 instead of Aug. 3.

Volleyball contests will begin on Sept. 14 with football games starting on Sept. 24. The volleyball state championships for those classifications will be played on Dec. 11-12 with the football state championships delayed a month until January 2021.

In addition, Classes 1A through 4A will begin practices and games as previously scheduled.

“Acknowledging the situation is not always clear-cut, “the UIL said. “COVID-19 affects every community differently, the plan also allows for local flexibility and encourages districts to plan for possible interruptions in order to complete district seasons.”

Here is the updated 2020-2021 UIL Activity Calendar:

COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Guidelines

Along with the updated calendar, the UIL also released COVID-19 risk mitigation guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year and can be found at this link. This includes guidance around face coverings, general operations and protocol for individuals confirmed or exposed to COVID-19, congregate settings (band halls, locker rooms, etc.), practice and rehearsal activities, spectators and media, and concession stands and food service.

These guidelines are in addition to guidance issued by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and intended to be implemented along with TEA guidance, which applies to UIL academic activities and extracurricular non-UIL activities.

Spectators, fans and members of the media will be required to wear face coverings under Executive Order GA-29.

Exceptions to the wearing of face coverings or face shields include:

  • Any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
  • While a person is consuming food or drink;
  • While the person is in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water.
  • When a congregating group of persons maintains at least 6 feet of social distancing; or
  • Any other reason or circumstance indicated under Executive Order GA-29.

Schools may allow spectators to attend games, contests, or events within a maximum 50-percent capacity limitation, provided that appropriate spacing between spectators is maintained. Seating in consecutive rows is also prohibited, and schools should block off seating to maintain a minimum six feet of distance between groups.

Sites are also encouraged to utilize remote ticketing options to help manage capacity limitations and are advised to keep paper ticketing and programming minimized to help avoid transferable materials.

“Our goal in releasing this plan is to provide a path forward for Texas students and schools,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said. “While understanding situations change and there will likely be interruptions that will require flexibility and patience, we are hopeful this plan allows students to participate in the education-based activities they love in a way that prioritizes safety and mitigates risk of COVID-19 spread.”

The UIL says it will continue to work with state officials and monitor CDC and other federal guidance to determine any potential modifications that may become necessary.

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