The University Interscholastic League announced on Tuesday, July 21, that schools classified as a 4A or below can begin their athletics on time this fall.
The plan says schools in Conferences 1A-4A can begin practices on Aug. 3 and start games on Aug. 10 for volleyball and Aug. 27 for football. Team tennis and cross country can begin matches and meets on Aug. 17. Pleasanton, Jourdanton, Poteet, Charlotte, Lytle and McMullen County all fall under those categories. Conferences 6A and 5A will begin practice on Sept. 7 and games on Sept. 24.
“It’s exciting,” Pleasanton Athletic Director Tab Dumont said. “It’s still a lot of uncharted territory and a lot of questions need to be answered, but it’s exciting to know that our kids will get to get out on the field and in the gyms and playing courts and start doing their things.”
Jourdanton AD Darrell Andrus had heard rumblings that the UIL was considering going with the plan they released. He just wasn’t sure of the feasibility of the plan, though he admitted joy that the season was slated to go as scheduled for his team.
“I’m very excited,” Andrus said. “It was definitely an interesting announcement. I had actually heard several people talk about that specific scenario, but I couldn’t understand how that would work exactly. But after seeing it and moving forward and seeing how everyone quickly responded to finding games and getting their schedules set, it sure seemed to work out.”
The UIL said in a press release that their plan “allows for local flexibility and encourages districts to plan for possible interruptions in order to complete district seasons.”
“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 UIL also added the plan gives authority to local school districts and District Executive Committees to move forward with any plans should there be any interruptions in the season, noting the fluid situation that is the coronavirus pandemic.
The scheduling difference between 4A-1A and 6A-5A, and the delay from TAPPS, the state’s largest governing body of private schools, creates a challenge for local schools, though. Pleasanton was scheduled to play San Antonio Edison (5A) in week 1 and Antonian Prep (TAPPS). Jourdanton was slated to face Eagle Pass Winn (5A) in week 5. Charlotte was scheduled to face Texas Military Institute and St. Gerrard, both TAPPS schools, in their final two non-district games. Jourdanton filled their week 4 open date with a home game against Canyon Lake on Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
The decision to delay 6A and 5A athletics will have more of an effect on the volleyball, team tennis and cross country schedules. Dumont said Pleasanton volleyball is working feverishly to fill their schedule because “half” of their volleyball schedule had been affected by the UIL’s delay of bigger schools, the TAPPS delay or local mandates in places like Bexar County that prohibit school sporting events for the first part of the season.
“We’re scrambling for volleyball, too. We lost probably half our schedule for volleyball,” Dumont said. “We were playing a lot of schools in Bexar County. We’re scrambling for volleyball games … we’re scrambling for team tennis, cross country. Everything has been affected. We’ll do the best we can to get it all filled in and ready to go.”
Schools like Pleasanton, Jourdanton and Poteet have opted to allow virtual learning as an option for students and parents wishing to exercise caution during the pandemic.
Jourdanton will start school on Aug. 17 with virtual learning only, before offering in-person learning on Sept. 8. During that time, students will be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities. Once they return on Sept. 8, students will only be allowed to participate in these extracurricular activities if they are attending school in person, rather than virtually. Pleasanton ISD is scheduled to start school on Aug. 17, but has proposed pushing the start date back to Sept. 8 with inperson and virtual education options.
Whether or not kids participate in sports is a decision that is going to be left up to families to make.
“It’s a choice. Extracurricular activities are a choice,” Andrus said. “Nobody has to participate in them. These are people, parents and students, that are choosing these activities.”