Start on time?

Foster football players Mario Simmons, Ricky Rich, Ryan Stubblefield and Chidozie Nwankwo preparing for the coin toss before the Falcons’ play game against Shadow Creek last season. 

The complexity of attempting to start the 2020-21 school year’s athletic schedule on top continues to mount with each passing day in Texas.

The University Interscholastic League’s date for starting practice for football and volleyball programs is currently Aug. 3.

At the moment, that date appears more tentative with major metropolitan school districts in Houston, Dallas, Austin and El Paso making plans to start the school year remotely with the coronavirus pandemic still surging in the Lone Star State.

The UIL has not made any major announcements related to the 2020-21 school year outside of a change in requirements needed for physicals to participate in extracurricular actives.

At the moment, the UIL has been focused on summer strength and conditioning.

The league has imposed social distancing and disinfectant regulations to keep athletes safe during work outdoors.

The UIL also quickly amended those recommendations to allow for larger athlete-to-coaches ratios and allowed the use of locker rooms and showers after a two-week break around the Fourth of July holiday.

Fort Bend ISD was the first Houston-area school district to announce it would be starting its school year online.

Fort Bend ISD athletic released a statement on Thursday while officially announcing Dena Scott as athletic director:

“FBISD Athletics continues to keep the health and safety of our student-athletes and staff at the forefront of all planning efforts.

“After careful consideration, there will not be face-to-face athletic practices or activities during the start of the year and period of online-only learning.

“While we are not able to offer in-person programs and activities at this time, we will continue our efforts to support our students in the development of these attributes.”

FBISD has not established a timetable for returning to in-person programs.

The Texas Education Agency updated its guidelines on Friday to allow school districts to start the year with four weeks of online instruction and up to eight weeks with a waiver.

FBISD is scheduled to start the school year on Aug. 12. A four-week period would put the online instruction in place through at least the first week of September.

Fort Bend Austin, Ridge Point and Willowridge were scheduled to play the district’s first varsity football games on Thursday, Aug. 27.

The first week of September would include playing through the first two weeks of action.

Any further delay would effect district play for Districts 20-6A, 10-5A DI and 11-5A DII.

The issue is compounded by Houston ISD’s decision to postpone the start of the school year to Sept. 8 and begin online learning for six weeks.

HISD campuses will not start in-person instruction until at least Oct. 19, while extracurriculars are still up in the air.

With both FBISD and HISD teams in a holding pattern at the moment, Lamar Consolidated ISD is directly affected.

LCISD has one team in District 20-6A with seven FBISD teams. George Ranch will not able to play a district slate if Fort Bend stays out for the fall.

Foster, Terry, Manvel, Angleton and Katy Paetow only remain for District 10-5A DI, while Galena Park is the only team that is currently not delayed in 11-5A DII.

It appears at the moment, the UIL is likely primed to push back the start of athletics in light of the moves by larger school districts, multiple reports from across the state project that news to come next week.

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