If Cases Continue to Rise, Are High School Sports in Jeopardy?
Last weekend, the city saw various high school teams kick off their fall sports season amid the coronavirus pandemic, and most notably, the football season began.
COVID-19 rules were put in place for every game. There was limited fan capacity at each stadium. Cheerleaders, band members, coaches and even some players wore masks. It felt like the majority did their part in taking the precautionary steps in order to get to this place.
Staying in this position is another thing.
The city continues to see a surge in positive cases
The city of El Paso is reporting another day of triple-digit numbers for COVID-19 cases. The 4,383 active cases are the most active cases since the county's August surge. The seven-day positivity rate is over 10 percent for the first time since the middle of August as well.
EPISD, YISD and Canutillo announces updated delays and restrictions
EPISD, YISD and Canutillo independent school district announced changes to their return-to-class model at the end of last week.
EPISD will postpone their reopening date, YISD will restrict athletic events and push the return to campus date, and CISD is extending remote learning.
EPISD schedule revisions include an Oct. 21 teachers beginning a phased-in return and will be set to have all students that choose in-person instruction back on Nov. 2.
YISD will forbid spectators or student groups (band, cheerleaders, etc.) from attending athletic events. In addition, teachers will be allowed to voluntarily return to classrooms starting on Monday, Oct. 5.
Canutillo ISD will ask parents—if possible—to return or stay with remote learning on Monday, Oct. 5. They will extend the remote learning past Oct. 19 if the cases continue to rise.
Cancellations thus far
After previous cancelations by Irvin and Cathedral last week, El Paso High will postpone their next two football games due to a positive COVID-19 case, reported by KTSM on Sunday. The Tigers were going to face Bel Air on Friday and Austin on Oct. 16, which will both be rescheduled.
An internal COVID-19 case canceled Cathedral football's first two games of the season. They are the second team to cancel games after Irvin High School canceled their first two games due to a positive COVID-19 case prior to the season starting.
El Paso is the only team with a COVID-19 case to play a game prior to shutting things down. The Tigers lost 61-15 to Clint over the weekend.
Even though the first weekend of high school football was done in a safe manner, there are a lot of underlying factors that could derail the season. The rising COVID-19 cases could end up being a red flag for public health officials, who could place further restrictions on the season. If returning back to class continues to be delayed due to rising COVID-19 cases, how will the athletic activities continue in each district?
Moreover, we have seen each district make their own decisions on regulations involving fan attendance and activities that are permitted on campus. Could a district cancel games altogether one weekend if multiple teams have COVID-19 cases? Or, could all districts adopt a similar model like YISD and not allow fans back in games?
There is still a lot of uncertainty.
Maybe everything stays on track. Maybe this season gets completed. Maybe—for everyone's sake—there are no other COVID-19 cancelations. But amid the pandemic, one thing is certain: expect the unexpected.