School districts in large metropolitan areas quickly closed campuses with the spread of the COVID-19 virus rapidly accelerating this week, while smaller communities weren’t necessarily feeling a direct impact yet.
The dichotomy of the two situations resulted in lingering questions about high school extracurricular events scheduled this weekend.
The University Interscholastic League ended any questions on Friday with an announcement that all UIL sanctioned contest has been suspended from March 16 through March 29.
“We are urging our member schools and their communities to stay vigilant and take every possible precaution to remain safe and healthy,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt.
“We understand there is a lot of uncertainty during this unprecedented time. Please know UIL leadership is working diligently to adjust to this rapidly evolving situation and will share updates as soon as possible.”
The UIL did note that rehearsals and practices may be held at the discretion of local school districts.
Lamar Consolidated ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Needville ISD, East Bernard ISD and Brazos ISD have all announced campuses will be closed through at least March 23 for all activities.
UIL had already taken steps to related to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Texas with suspension of the boys’ state basketball tournament in San Antonio, the state robotics championships and state debate championships.
The UIL suspended the boys’ state basketball tournament after the conclusion of a 3A semifinal on Thursday afternoon in response to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.
“After much consultation with government and health officials, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the remainder of the UIL State Basketball Tournament,” said Dr. Breithaupt in a statement.
“Our number one priority remains the well-being of our student-athletes and spectators and we are taking every possible precaution to keep them safe.”
Two Fort Bend County teams are to participate in the state tournament in Hightower in Class 5A and Stafford in Class 4A. Stafford is one of the main areas in the county where the coronavirus outbreak has hit.
There is no word of when or if the tournament will resume.
The postponement of the cross-examining debate state championship effects Needville’s Hannah Holloway and Amber Simons was to participate in the 4A field, while Brazos debaters Antoni Gaskamp, Anna Mohar, Micha Alvarado and Hallie Pailes are to be in the 2A tournament.
Return to normalcy
The implication of extracurriculars returning at some point creates a conundrum for the UIL.
Outside of the direct need to complete the basketball, debate and robotics championships, UIL musical solo and ensemble regionals, academic and speech district meets were to have taken place during this week.
Not to be forgotten, soccer district certification was scheduled for March 24 with bi-district happening on March 26-28.
The UIL announced tentative plans on Friday for the return to normalcy after the two-week break.
For soccer, the new district certification will be April 11, 18 days later than originally scheduled.
The time period will allow a full week for two-plus games with the majority of districts having two games left on their regular-season schedule remaining.
For example for a game that still needed to be played, Foster girls soccer (18-2, 14-0) had a key contest scheduled for this coming Tuesday against Angleton (17-2, 13-1) to crown the District 24-5A champion.
Terry boys and Fulshear girls have already secured their district titles but may other teams like George Ranch boys, Foster boys, Lamar Consolidated boys, Lamar Consolidated girls, Terry girls and Needville boys are not firmly in the top four spots for the playoffs and these teams are likely angeling to complete their district schedules in April.
The soccer bi-district will take place by Tuesday, April 14, followed by area by Saturday, April 18 and regional quarterfinals ending by Tuesday, Apr. 21.
The soccer regional tournaments will take place on Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25.
The regional tournament may also not be played at the scheduled location and may be set up by the four teams in the regional tournament.
The 2020 UIL Soccer Championships will be pushed back two weeks from its original date, now set for April 29 through May 2.
Golf and tennis have also seen changes with district certification dates moving.
The golf date for district certification has been pushed back to Tuesday, April 14.
It was originally set for Wednesday, April 8.
Tennis district certification’s deadline is now Saturday, April 18 delayed from Tuesday, April 14.
For both sports, regional and state tournaments will remain at their original dates.
Baseball, softball and track and field will keep their key dates for district certification and the postseason the same as before the suspension.
On the baseball and softball front, district will have to deal with the loss of nearly a month’s worth of games to the district standings.
The UIL also noted that schools shall limit practice for UIL activities to a maximum of eight hours per school week per activity, in addition to a maximum of sixty minutes per day, if school is not in session.
In session, practices are up to the discretion of the local school district during the period of suspension.
The UIL also announced the new deadlines for district academic, speech and one-act play.
District Academic Meets, originally scheduled March 23-28, may now be held March 30-April 11. This includes speaking events. Entry deadlines may be adjusted as needed.
One-Act Play District/Bi-District certification deadline, originally scheduled March 26, has been extended to April 7.
One-Act Play Area certification deadline, originally scheduled for April 4, has been extended to April 14.
Academic Regional Meets are still scheduled for April 17-18 and One-Act Play Regional dates remain April 15-18. Current sites are subject to change.