High Schools Shut Down Summer Workouts Due to Positive Cases, Recent Surge in El Paso
Ah, the inevitable has begun. High schools across El Paso are starting to shut down summer workout programs as cases start to pop up internally. In accordance, some schools are shutting down their programs as a precautionary measure, citing the rising positive cases in the city.
It started on Saturday when the Ysleta Independent School District suspended all summer workouts across the board for all high school athletic teams in the district when a Riverside coach tested positive for COVID-19. The Riverside coach was not in contact with students and no other staff member is reporting symptoms. Still, due to the positive cases at Riverside and Hanks, YISD decided to suspend the summer strength and conditioning programs until further notice.
El Paso High School head coach Ray Aguilar Jr. announced Sunday in a tweet that even though they didn't have a positive case internally, the school would suspend all workouts as a precautionary measure.
"Being proactive now will not only ensure the safety of all, but also bring us a step closer to what we all desire: the beginning of the 2020 Texas High School Fall Sports Season in August," he wrote on Twitter.
Chapin High School principal Robert Marsh tweeted on Sunday a similar move and canceled on-campus practices while "administration will continue to monitor the situation and update everyone on any changes."
Franklin's basketball program announced on social media their intentions to stop the in-person workouts. Football programs from Irvin, Canutillo and Burges have joined in suspending all workouts, reported KTSM's Andy Morgan. The Eagles cited a "minimum of two weeks," while the Mustangs said they had "planned to take the week off anyways," according to the reports.
More schools and programs could follow suit. Socorro ISD, which had its athletes return to campus on July 15, is the lone school district that hasn't made any announcements as of Monday morning.
It's not solely up to the school districts to mandate anything though. The UIL, which has been monitoring the record rising numbers in Texas, told KCEN News on Friday "Per UIL guidelines, participation in Summer Strength and Conditioning is optional and schools should take their local context into account and follow all local and state requirements when deciding whether to offer UIL activities... Any plans regarding UIL activities and events for the 2020-21 school year will be dependant upon guidance from local and state authorities and will be released by UIL when more information is available."
The ultimate decision from UIL on whether or not to proceed with the fall sports season will have to come soon. The way that the athletic schedule stands, teams are set to compete in just around six weeks. Do you disallow fall indoor sports altogether, like volleyball and basketball, and keep outdoor activities open still? Or do you plan on everything starting as it is and take it case by case? There are so many unanswered questions looming out there.
Over the weekend, the City of El Paso announced that they were postponing its reopenings of Quality of Life Services, which include libraries, recreational centers and spray parks. The 990 new reported cases last week were 67 percent more than El Paso County had experienced in any prior week during the coronavirus pandemic, according to El Paso Matters. El Paso experienced seven straight days of triple-digit cases for the first time during the pandemic.
Problem is, the UIL is hoping for the best news from the CDC but the cases statewide are still alarming. Locally, the schools have done an admirable job for the most part in their efforts to bring students back for workouts. But the coaches can only control the players for a small percentage of the day. They have no control over anyone's off the field activities to ensure social distancing protocols are being followed.