Texas' UIL ramps up guideline efforts
September 6, 2020
Texas' University Interscholastic League is ramping up its efforts to get spectators to follow COVID-19 guidelines at games by threatening sanctions for those who don't comply. Meanwhile, local school districts are urging compliance - and patience - from fans and those involved in athletics.
The state's governing body for public schools, which said sanctions could come via local UIL district executive committees and/or the UIL state executive committee, also hinted at the possibility of shutting down sports if its protocols aren't followed.
The messaging comes after videos and photos were posted on social media from season-opening football games in Class 4A and below late last month that showed fans neither wearing masks in the stands nor practicing proper social distancing.
The UIL released updated COVID-19 risk mitigation guidelines Tuesday and sent an email to superintendents across the state that said adhering to those protocols is "critical." Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have announced that they aren't playing football this fall, and the UIL said in its email that "for students to have the opportunity to continue to compete in UIL activities this school year, we all must remain diligent in following these guidelines."
It is about to become easier for the UIL to track the spread of the virus. School districts have to submit a COVID-19 data survey weekly starting Tuesday to the Texas Education Agency.
The UIL's COVID-19 risk mitigation guidelines say that all employees, parents, visitors and students 10 years of age or older must wear face coverings or face shields upon entry to an area where UIL activities are being conducted and when not actively practicing or playing in the contest. The UIL is allowing a maximum of 50% capacity at games and said that the executive order issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on July 3 applies to all UIL activities.
Abbott stated that everyone in Texas must wear a face covering when in an outdoor public space when it is not feasible to be at least 6 feet from anyone not living in the same household. The only non-medical exceptions that would apply for fans at football games are when a congregating group of persons maintains at least 6 feet of social distancing or while a person is consuming food or drink.