Football scrimmages canceled, others go on as COVID-19 cases hit school districts

Education

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Friday night’s Travis High School football scrimmage was canceled after San Antonio ISD decided to cancel all out-of-district competition until the season starts.

The district hopes by doing so, it will keep athletes healthy for when the games really count.

“Our district has led the way with our response to COVID-19. Since day one, our focus has been the health and safety of our staff, our students and our broader community of families and neighbors,” an automatic message on SAISD’s website reads. “We strongly believe that the best path forward as a school district is to require face masks for students and staff, and also to require staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. We are being proactive to protect the health and safety of those we hold dear.”

Other scrimmages went on as planned Friday night. At Gupton Stadium in Leander, Cedar Park High School squared off against Westlake High School. This, despite Leander ISD having record positive cases districtwide.

As of Friday, there were 210 positive cases at Leander ISD. That exceeds the previous high of 130 in January 2021.

“Cedar Park had a mandate this week that they wanted everyone to wear masks, and only 20% of the kids showed up wearing masks, so it seems pretty lax right now honestly,” said James Lane, a Cedar Park High School father.

Lane watched his freshman son scrimmage Friday night but said he wasn’t concerned about the lack of masks being worn from people in attendance.

“It’s a tough decision. It’s a personal decision. And I feel personally okay about it,” Lane said. “Last year was a tough year, it disrupted a lot of lives here, and we are just looking forward to getting back and seeing some football.”

Over at Austin ISD, athletics director Leal Anderson is highly encouraging all student athletes get their vaccines. He believes that’s the easiest way to minimize game disruptions and absences on the field.

“That’s number one. That’s very important in terms of being able to control safety,” Anderson said. “We definitely want to prevent as many positive cases as we can. We don’t want anyone to get sick.”

Even still, Anderson said it is inevitable some athletes will fall ill or be forced to quarantine after becoming exposed to COVID-19. There are at least three freshman Bowie High School football players under strict isolation orders right now, parents shared with KXAN.

Anderson said there will be new vaccination hubs for all AISD students starting the week of Aug. 30. As for gameday next Friday, the district plans on limiting capacity to 25%. Masks will be required from all spectators.

However, Anderson is not considering canceling all out-of-district scrimmages like San Antonio ISD did. He said the mental benefits of sports are necessary for kids right now.

“It’s finding that balance of giving our kids an opportunity to play and doing it as safely as we can,” Anderson said.

Reach KXAN’s Education Reporter Alex Caprariello by email at alexc@kxan.com or by phone at 512-703-5365, or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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