UIL now requiring student athletes to wear face masks

Student-athletes in Texas will need to wear face masks at summer strength and conditioning events, although not when actively working out.

The University Interscholastic League updated its requirements for workouts to reflect Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide mask mandate. They were released on Wednesday.

All employees, parents, visitors and students over the age of 10 must cover their faces when entering an area where UIL activities are being conducted except when actively exercising or in counties that are exempt under the governor’s order, the league’s website states.

"Schools may, for example, allow students who are actively exercising to remove face coverings as long as they maintain at least six feet of distance from other students and staff who are not wearing face coverings," the UIL stated. "However, schools must require students and staff to wear face coverings as they get into positions that allow them to maintain safe distancing."

The governing body for public school sports in Texas gave the go-ahead for some organized workouts to begin in June. Students are screened before working out and other restrictions apply.

Dallas ISD’s executive director of athletics, Silvia Salinas, says its 53 school programs are currently not practicing or conditioning while they heed the advice of the UIL to close summer workouts between July 3rd and 12th.

There have been some scares.

"But we’ve had situations where some either tested positive or been around somebody that tested positive," Salinas said.

The district is working to decide when it will resume practice and conditioning events.

"We haven’t spent a great deal of time indoors, to be honest with you, over the course of the last month," said Bob Wager, the athletic coordinator for Arlington Martin High School. "The vast majority of our camp has all been outside on fields that have been spread all over campus."

Wager says his team is off this week and they’ll start back up on Monday.

"Quite frankly, in the challenging time that we’re in, it was great for our kids to be around one another. Not too close," he said.

Last month, practices temporarily halted after a student tested positive. Due to early decisions made, workouts had only stopped a couple days and only a dozen athletes were told to isolate.

"That’s what coaches do: we adjust," the coach said.

Wager welcomes the latest moves by the UIL.

In addition to the face-covering rule, schools must provide hand sanitizer or hand washing stations in workout areas. They must also disinfect all surfaces throughout the day.

"Once you give us those guidelines, then we can put a plan in place to go to work," Wager said.

Dallas ISD hopes face coverings will in the long run speed-up a return to normal.

"They don’t want to come to something if they’re not safe," Salinas said.

Students will be allowed access to locker rooms as long as social distancing measures are implemented. Competitive drills will also be allowed.

The new rules go into effect on Monday.

LINK: https://www.uiltexas.org/athletics/covid-19-strength-conditioning-2020