High School Athletics Start In-Person Workouts Amid Pandemic
Adhering to the new guidelines set by the UIL to allow students on campus for limited summer workouts, several school districts in the area were back practicing on Monday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The first week of in-person workouts didn't have the best results from some schools in the local area. On Friday, the Catholic Diocese of El Paso announced that a Cathedral football player tested positive for COVID-19, thus suspending the offseason workouts until further notice. Socorro High, expecting to return for workouts Monday, announced on social media over the weekend that they would suspend workouts indefinitely after a coach reported symptoms of COVID-19.
This news also comes at the heels of El Paso's increase of newly reported COVID-19 cases, though hospitalizations and newly reported deaths declined last week. The city reported a pair of deaths and 77 new cases Monday morning.
There were a number of school districts allowing their coaches to return for in-person workouts on Monday, including El Paso, Socorro, Canutillo, San Elizario, Fabens and Anthony. Ysleta ISD is planning to return on June 22.
This isn't a school district's internal issue. It's not the coaches, it's not the players, it's not the programs themselves.
It's the outside problems related to the pandemic that will set schools back.
A school can follow all of the UIL guidelines perfectly—sanitize facilities, administer smaller group sessions, take all measures for hygiene and safety measures—yet still have someone internally test positive for the virus. Coaches and administrators can only control their own environments, not off-the-field activities.
Theoretically, a player could leave workouts, contract the virus elsewhere and return to practice the next day as per his normal routine. Three days later, he could be coming down with symptoms of COVID-19, which would then prompt the shutdown or suspension of the voluntary workouts.
But at the same time, if the UIL is permitting these coaches and athletes to return, will each school be their own case-by-case situation? Last week, the UIL also announced that they will have expansions to their guidelines for summer workouts. Starting on June 22, schools can host indoor workouts and skill-specific activities up to 50% capacity, up from 25% previously.
Either way, workouts on Monday were safe and followed guidelines, sources who attended practices in multiple school districts told 600 ESPN El Paso. Videos posted on social media from workouts showed students in football, volleyball and cross country training outside. Coaches are working to take equipment out from the weight room and onto outdoor facilities while still adhering to guidelines.
Above all, everyone involved in high school athletics is hoping El Paso can have a better week this week as it prepares to compete in athletics come August.