In response to the surge of coronavirus cases in Texas, the University Interscholastic League recommended that all public schools halt strength and conditioning programs beginning this past Friday, July 3, until at least July 13, according to a tweet by UIL Texas on Thursday, July 1.

Many area schools have already suspended summer strength and conditioning workouts because of positive coronavirus tests among student-athletes or school staff members. These include San Angelo, Eden, Brady, Winters, Stanton, Coahoma, Big Spring and Forsan to name a few.
Others have at least partially suspended their summer strength and conditioning programs.

Sonora ISD Athletic Director Kevin Sherrill said although participation has been good so far this summer, he is following the UIL recommendation.
“Yes, even though our numbers have been good, I wanted to follow the UIL’s recommendation,” Sherrill said. “We are not having summer strength and conditioning the week of July 6 through 10. The weight room was also closed on July 3. We will continue to follow UIL guidelines concerning our strength camp and will talk with the district Superintendent about a plan moving forward.”

Additionally, Sherrill said he and his staff have been diligent in following CDC guidelines and recommendations from state officials to ensure that everyone stays healthy.

They are all taking precautions such as disinfecting workout spaces and equipment after each use, he said.

Students also bring their own water and they do not share space in the locker room.

“We continue to disinfect the weight room 2 to 3 times a day. We always disinfect immediately after use,” Sherrill said. “We are working in smaller groups to help with distancing in the weight room. We have moved a significant portion of our summer sessions outdoors to allow for more fresh air and easier distancing.”
The UIL recommendation to halt summer conditioning came at the same time as many Texas schools had already planned a break from activities following the July 4th holiday weekend.

“In anticipation of the July 4 holiday and the potential for increased social interactions that could spread COVID-19, UIL is recommending schools consider closing summer workouts, rehearsals, practices and instruction between July 3 and July 12, resuming Monday, July 13,” the UIL tweeted out from its official Twitter account. “For schools in areas experiencing community spread of COVID-19, this temporary suspension will reduce risk of exposure and provide an opportunity to review current plans and re-evaluate local context in order to make informed decisions moving forward.”

The UIL, which governs athletics and other extracurricular activities for the state’s public schools, has not mandated how individual districts conduct summer strength and conditioning programs since the state approved a resumption of off season school activities June 8.

Nonetheless, the UIL contends it “will continue to work with state officials and monitor CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and other federal guidance to determine any potential modifications to UIL summer guidelines,” according to the July 1 tweet.

Summer practices for the 2020-21 school year are scheduled to begin later this month for high school sports. High School football teams may begin practice on August 3.

Additionally, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath recently told state lawmakers that in person classes are set to resume at the start of the 2020-21 school year as planned.

Districts will have flexibility in adapting to the Coronavirus pandemic as necessary, according to Morath.

As for Sonora ISD, Superintendent Ross Aschenbeck said the district is still considering options.

“We haven’t decided on a plan,” Aschenbeck said. “We just sent out a parent survey and will have to analyze the results.”