in Commentary

UIL puts all activities on hold indefinitely, hopes to resume May 4 at the earliest

AUSTIN – As we deal with the day-to-day fears and uncertainties that have become a part of life during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) demonstrated precautionary restraint while delivering a ray of hope to students, athletes, sponsors and coaches across Texas.

On the heels of Gov. Greg Abbott proclaiming a public health disaster in Texas for the first time in more than 100 years Thursday, the UIL extended its suspension of all UIL-sanctioned activities indefinitely due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Texas. In addition, all contests, practices, rehearsals and workouts will remain suspended until further notice.

But with the next breath, the UIL stated, “At this time, the earliest games and contests may resume is Monday, May 4. Prior to this date, the UIL will allow its member schools a reasonable acclimatization period for rehearsals and practices to occur.”

And with that statement, the UIL showed it was not ready to pull the plug on the winter and spring academic and athletic activities just yet.

“We are working diligently on contingency plans to conduct state championships in each of the activities that have been suspended,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “While the immediate future is unclear, we are committed to providing these much-desired activities to all Texas students and will prepare for all possible outcomes, including extended school closures.”

Clifton athletic director Chuck Caniford saw the announcement as a “bad news, good news” situation.

“The bad news is that they have suspended competitions until at least Monday, May 4,” Caniford said in a Facebook post Thursday afternoon. “The great news is it appears that they intend to do everything possible to finish all of our spring sports seasons. As we have learned in the past week, all of this is subject to change, but I am encouraged by the language of their release today.”

The UIL reminded everyone that all decisions remain flexible and will be consistent with the advice of local, state and federal officials. Officials will continue to provide timely, ongoing updates and is reassessing this ever-changing situation daily.

In the meantime, Meridian athletic director Wade Morton urged Yellowjacket student-athletes to continue working out and conditioning in preparation of resuming competition, offering a home workout schedule.

“Don’t let what you’ve done in the offseason go to waste,” Morton said in his Facebook post. “All facilities are closed and practices cancelled for Meridian ISD until further notice. 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.”

UIL 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 the circumstance with the Coronavirus pandemic remains fluid, the UIL will continue to adjust to the situation and 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.”

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