in Commentary

UIL suspends all sanctioned activities for two weeks

Although the sports world dealt with the impact of a health crisis just 11 years ago, it’s been over a century since a pandemic has hit with such long-lasting and far-reaching implications.

To support the health and safety of students and communities across Texas, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) suspended all UIL-sanctioned contests due to the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), effective 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,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said. “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.”

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, the first such declaration in 11 years, leading the UIL suspension of activities. Shutdowns have occurred only twice before due to two pandemics involving the H1N1 influenza virus: the 2009 swine flu pandemic and the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Although UIL officials postponed all public high school athletic and academic competitions in 2009, Texas schools returned to action after a two weeks layoff. But in 1918, activities were halted in early October and did not resume throughout the remainder of the school year.

“As of right now, competitions are scheduled to resume, and the UIL intends to complete all spring sports seasons,” Clifton athletic director Chuck Caniford said. “Obviously, this will mean that there will be significant changes to the remaining schedules. Please be patient and understand that this is a very fluid situation.

“There are many variables that will affect the rescheduling of these competitions. As soon as we have information on the updated schedules, we will pass that along. I do not anticipate that we will have that information until at least late next week at the earliest.”

As the Coronavirus pandemic remains a fluid situation, the UIL will continue to follow the direction of state and local officials to monitor this situation and will make additional announcements regarding plans for Spring activities as needed.

“It’s hard especially for your seniors that have put in a lot of work for this year since they were in junior high,” Valley Mills athletic director Sam Moody said. “We support the decision and know that it is in the best interest of our athletes and community cancelling events and practices. Our number one priority is the safety of our students, and we will take whatever precautions are necessary to keep them safe.”

Although the UIL declared that rehearsals and practices can be held at the discretion of the local school district, Clifton ISD decided to suspend all extracurricular activities and extend Spring Break for an additional week.

“Because CISD will be closed next week due to health concerns, there will be no high school or middle school athletic practices, open gyms or open weight rooms,” Caniford said. “Once we know when practices will resume, we will pass that information along as well.

“Again, we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during this highly unusual and fluid time. We will continue to post updated information regarding UIL activities as soon as we receive it.”

With Meridian ISD taking Spring Break beginning next week, the school district will keep their doors to all facilities closed through March 22.

“All facilities are closed and practices cancelled for Meridian ISD until further notice,” Meridian Athletic Director Wade Morton said. “It’s necessary to allow authorities to get ahead of what’s happening and to not put students, faculty and parents in an environment we truly don’t understand at this point and time.”

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