COVID-19 forces high school game cancelations across North Texas

Nearly two dozen high school football games statewide have already been canceled because of COVID-19.

Many of those games are the opening games for schools in North Texas. 

Dallas ISD had to cancel quite a few. This year is different from last year. All of the COVID precautions in place last season aren't required.

North Dallas High School is one of a handful of Dallas ISD schools that will not be playing its season opener because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Many kids are counting on this season, but it’s unclear what this season will actually look like.

High school football is set to officially kick off this week.

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It’s an opportunity for Bryan Adams High School senior Hendrick Ramirez to hopefully earn a college scholarship.

"This season is the most important to me," he said. "This is where I’m going to make or break myself."

Unfortunately, COVID-19 remains in the picture. It remains a tough call for coaches who have to decide between what’s mandated, what’s optional and what’s safe.

"That’s a hard one to do because you can do everything right and it still happen," said Dallas ISD Athletics Director Silvia Salinas. "We learned a lot from last year, that’s for sure."

Salinas says Dallas ISD is canceling a handful of opening games this week because of COVID-19 outbreaks and quarantines. 

More than 20 games across Texas have been canceled this week. A majority of them are in North Texas.

Greg Tepper with Dave Campbell’s Texas Football says this week’s cancellation percentage is smaller than last year’s.

"Last year, we estimated it was about 12% of games were being canceled due to COVID-19," he said. "There are 568 UIL 11-man Texas high school football games scheduled for this week. So right now, we’re at about 3-3.5%."

But no one knows what the future will bring.

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"So far, we’re lucky that we don’t have to postpone an entire season," Salinas said.

At the start of last season, the governor’s mask mandate for everyone remained in effect.

UIL required masks for players on the sidelines and crowds at stadiums. Stadiums were only allowed to 50% capacity. Still, some seasons started weeks behind.

This year, none of that is required.

Districts are suing the state so they can make their own decisions in the classroom.

It’s unclear if that will extend to the football field.

The pandemic is proving to be a learning opportunity both on the field and off the field.

Dallas ISD is asking fans to wear masks at football games this season and says players not actively participating will wear them. Again, these actions are not mandated by the UIL.