AUSTIN – High school sports in the Coastal Bend Publishing area will, in large part, resume as scheduled under new guidelines released by the UIL last week.

While large school athletics for schools such as Gregory-Portland ISD will be delayed until September, districts including Sinton, Refugio, Taft, Odem-Edroy, Woodsboro, Mathis and Austwell-Tivoli are slated to begin athletic competition in August.

The state’s governing body for public school athletics released its sports-specific and risk mitigation guidelines for the 2020-21 school year on July 21.

“Our goal in releasing this plan is to provide a path forward for Texas students and schools,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “While understanding situations change and there will likely be interruptions that will require flexibility and patience, we are hopeful this plan allows students to participate in the education-based activities they love in a way that prioritizes safety and mitigates risk of COVID-19 spread.”

The risk mitigation guidelines released by the organization call for schools to limit capacity at all events to 50 percent as well as mandate the use of face coverings by all spectators and attendees. 

The modified calendar released by the organization shows fall athletics in 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A beginning as previously scheduled with some changes to accommodate schools whose summer workout programs were kiboshed by local officials.

Football teams in those conferences may begin practice on Aug. 3.

That day will be the beginning of the acclimatization period for schools who have offered summer strength and conditioning since July 20.

For schools that were unable to offer a summer program, Aug. 3 represents the start of strength and conditioning and sport specific activities with no pads or helmets. The acclimatization period for those schools begins on Aug. 10.

The first day for all football teams in 1A through 4A is Aug. 27.

The season for schools in 5A and 6A was pushed back by more than a month by the UIL.

Football programs that offered strength and conditioning after Aug. 24 may begin on Sept. 7 with an acclimatization period, while programs that didn’t offer those workouts must start them by Sept. 7 before the acclimatization period can begin on Sept. 14.

The modification will also require changes to the postseason, which will now begin on Dec. 10.

The state championship games in the state’s two largest classifications will now be held on Jan. 11, 2021.

The entire plan released by the UIL is subject to change based on state and local ordinances.

UIL tweaks calendar for other sports as well

The calendar for volleyball in 1A-4A also begins on Aug. 3.

Practices can begin that day for schools with summer programs, while Aug. 10 is the first day for practices for schools without summer programs.

Matches begin Aug. 17.

In 5A and 6A, schools that started workouts after Aug. 24 can begin practicing on Sept. 7 and may start playing matches Sept. 14. Schools that don’t start workouts by Aug. 24 can start practice Sept. 14 and play matches beginning Sept. 18.

In 1A-4A, teams will be permitted to play up to three matches during the calendar week for the first two weeks of the season before school begins.

In 5A-6A, teams will be permitted to play three matches per calendar week all season with the caveat that only one may be played during the school week, which is defined as Monday through Thursday.

Volleyball’s biggest change will be the ban on invitational tournaments and showcases, which was done to avoid multiple teams from different areas all congregating at the same site.

Teams will be permitted to play up to three matches during the calendar week for the first two weeks of the season before school begins.

The allowable match limit for all programs is 29.

There will also be no regional tournaments for volleyball with the semifinals and finals being played on separate dates.

In team tennis and cross country, 1A-4A programs may begin on Aug. 17, while 5A and 6A programs may begin on Sept. 7.

The UIL also made tweaks to the basketball calendar and guidelines, and again the most notable is the ban on tournaments and showcases for this season.

Girls basketball practices may begin on Oct. 21 for all conferences with games beginning Nov. 6.

Boys basketball practices may begin Oct. 28 with games beginning on Nov. 13.

Basketball teams will be limited to 27 total games for the season.

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