AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas high school football teams in Class 5A and 6A won’t play their first games until Sept. 24, the University Interscholastic League announced Tuesday with its latest plan to start fall sports amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“These adjustments reflect the public health situation at this time and the varying numbers of COVID-19 cases across different geographic areas of the state,” the UIL said in a prepared statement.
The modifications to the UIL’s plan include moving back the first practice dates for both football and volleyball in the state’s largest classifications to Sept. 7. Big-school volleyball can start playing games Sept. 14.
State championships for football will be moved back to January 2021, and volleyball’s state championships are scheduled for Dec. 11-12.
For schools in 1A-4A, the first day of practice for football and volleyball remains Aug. 3. Volleyball can start playing games Aug. 10, and football can start playing Aug. 27.
“This plan provides a delay for schools in highly-populated metro areas, primarily conferences 5A-6A, given the challenges with COVID-19 those communities are facing, while providing schools in other areas, primarily 1A-4A, an opportunity to start seasons on schedule.”
The UIL says the plan is with an understanding that not all schools will be able to start at the same time, and this plan, “allows for schools to make playing decisions at the local level, and the UIL will work directly with schools that have scheduling issues not addressed in this plan to allow them flexibility to complete as many contests as possible.”
The UIL also clarified that local COVID-19 orders supersede its guidelines, so counties have the ability to tell schools they cannot play.
Many student athletes are pleased they will have any season at all this Fall. Junior Aden Britt, who plays volleyball for Weiss High School in the Pflugerville ISD said navigating new safety protocols during summer strength and conditioning was a difficult, but necessary, transition.
“Wear a mask, stay six feet apart, don’t go out and do whatever you want,” Britt said. “But I do think we should have the opportunity to play our school sports and just get out.”
Parents are happy, too. Mike Boose, who has two twin sons in the Pflugerville ISD, said they have been working hard all summer. He and other fellow parents were concerned their children will lose out on their season and potential athletic scholarships for promising upperclassmen athletes.
“We also want to bring some sort of normalcy to the kids who are looking forward to this. And have been working since they were four, five and six years old.”
All schools must still follow local health authorities.