UIL Allows Texas High Schools to Resume Workouts

The University Interscholastic League (UIL), which governs most high school varsity sports and arts in the state of Texas, has approved high schools in Texas to resume both strength & conditioning and sport specific instruction at the state’s high schools beginning June 8, 2020.

This is part of an ongoing national narrative where, even when state and local governments have allowed pools to reopen, many teams are without water because many of the country’s large aquatic centers are owned by schools, which in many states are not yet open.

Under these guidelines, ‘strength and conditioning’ sessions may be no more than 2 consecutive hours per day, Monday through Friday, and that no student may attend more than one session per day.

For most sports, this will be weight room time or conditioning time, without specific sports equipment such as balls, dummies, sleds, or contact equipment being used.

Other Restrictions:

  • For indoor workout activities, facilities may be used up to a capacity of 25%
  • Social distancing must be used unless safety considerations are in play, such as spotting a lift
  • Workout stations must be spaced to allow for at least 10 feet of distance between them in all directions.
  • Any equipment must be thoroughly disinfected before another student uses it.

For swimming, this conditioning time could include doing an in-water workout without stroke correction or starts, for example.

In addition to those 2 hours of general strength & conditioning work, coaches may employ up to one hour per day, for students in grades 7-12, of sport-specific instruction. In swimming, that could include, for example, specific stroke correction.

Students who are participating in multiple sports can receive up to 60 minutes per sport of sport-specific instruction, up to a maximum of 90 minutes per day.

Other Restrictions on Sport Specific Instruction:

  • Drills are allowed, but not where there would be a defender in close proximity. For example, in football, no 7 on 7 or offense vs. defense drills are allowed
  • Contact equipment must not be used (for example, helmets in football)
  • Students and staff must remain at least 6 feet apart when not actively exercising. When actively exercising, they must remain 6 feet apart
  • Students may be placed in working groups no larger than 15 total students
  • Any equipment should be regularly disinfected during sessions.
  • Indoor facilities should be capped at 25% capacity

Rockwall ISD

In one case study, Rockwall Independent School District (ISD), which has a large aquatic center used by a local USA Swimming club, will allow some swimmers back in the water, but not all.

Specifically, the Rockwall Aquatics Center of Excellence, or RACE, uses the Rockwall ISD Aquatic Center and the club is owned by the local school district.

The team has faced some conflict with local parents, because as of now, only Rockwall ISD students in grades 7-12 are being allowed to return to the water. That means that younger students, swimmers from other districts who are members of the team, and home-schooled or online-schooled students aren’t able to resume training. This also means that college swimmers who have returned home amid the pandemic are also excluded.

The district’s athletics director Russ Reeves told SwimSwam on Saturday that this isn’t meant to exclude anyone, but instead is part of an effort to get as many swimmers back in the water as is possible. He is anticipating that they’ll be able to get about 80 to 90 of RACE’s 300 swimmers back into the water at this time.

“At this time, Rockwall ISD is only opening all of our athletic facilities in accordance with UIL/TEA guidelines,” Reeves said.

Reeves says that it was important to him that the district reopen the aquatics center along with other facilities, but that there would be wide-reaching ramifications if they allowed all RACE members to return to training right away.

All 3 of RACE’s Olympic Trials qualifiers are not current students in Rockwall ISD, and are thus not able to train with the team.

“Rockwall ISD has made a difficult decision but it is consistent with all our other District facility usage, which is very limited,” Reeves said. “We have many requests to use our facilities, not just athletic, by outside individuals and groups so by allowing the use of our facilities to anyone other than Rockwall ISD student-athletes there would be ramifications for all facilities in Rockwall ISD.”

In other words, if the district were to allow non-ISD students to use the aquatics center, they believed that this would mean that they would have to allow outside groups like churches and other organizations to resume their use of facilities, and the district isn’t prepared for that.

“Our decision has been made by looking at the totality of all our buildings,” Reeves continued. “These decisions are hard to make because we pride ourselves on accommodating the needs of all, but this new paradigm requires our decisions to address many new factors we have never had to consider before 2020.”

Guidelines from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) say that indoor facilities at schools should not be reopened to the community. An exception is made under the guidelines for UIL-approved conditioning or training programs, but require “indoor facilities to remain closed for purposes of athletic or fitness activities to unsupervised students and to the community.”

Reeves says that he understands the frustration that many swim families who aren’t yet allowed to resume using the aquatics facilities are feeling, and that he knows how hard they’ve worked. But, he also says that he views this limited opening as a good test run for their safety procedures before a wider opening.

“Rockwall, thankfully, hasn’t been hit as hard as other areas by the coronavirus, but we could, and we have to protect against that,” Reeves said. “It is our hope this partial opening will begin our journey to normal operations as quickly and safely as possible.

“Our Aquatic staff will continue to reach out virtually with the swimmers that will not be initially be able to swim in the Rockwall ISD Aquatic Center. Our staff has been doing virtual training with all our swimmers for weeks and that will continue to be provided until will can get all our R.A.C.E. swimmers back in our pool safely.”

Neil Walker, the head coach for Rockwall ISD, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the United States.

Rockwall County has had 164 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection leading to 13 deaths so far.

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Noneya
2 years ago

Looking at the Prosper Aquatic Club site it looks like their doing Masters. Swim lesson and Club without 10 ft rule or ISD student requirements. Can anyone confirm? Their site seems very detailed and they started June 15. I also hear TWST is practicing all groups. Are they practicing at the CISD pool?

Watersportsforlife
2 years ago

http://chng.it/pfYVMjvs

Please consider this petition. We live in the North Texas area. The club’s that rent these school district building are being locked out. The future of swimming diving water polo in the North Texas area needs help. If large clubs fail because they can not get in When school districts open them up again to renters none will be had. No renters then these building are to massive and expensive to own as a sole highschool sports arena. Highschool water sports will be cut. We have already seen this at the college level. Our LSC is a large one. Help us. We are blazing the way for others when the time comes to open. We need 1 million.

SWM DAD
2 years ago

My question is if the team is leasing the facility from the ISD why doe the ISD have the say? We all sign liability waivers that exempt the ISD from being sued. Parents are paying to put their kids on a private club team not a school team. There needs to be a hard line drawn between the club and the school. If a church group leases the auditorium does the school dictate what is preached?

Westerville
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

I can’t answer for Swm Dad, but enrolling for the purpose of swimming would walk the kid right into a UIL violation if they then try to swim for that district high school team. In Texas, they would also have every jealous swim parent and rival team coach reporting them to UIL to get them declared ineligible. So before anyone thinks it is a good idea to go enroll in the local high school so Little Timmy can get back in the water, think twice. It can come back to bite you.

Not a Karen
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Yes- as we have to withdraw from our current school (a public magnet program) to send transcripts over to RISD to enroll them there- which then loses my child’s spot at their current school. My kids school has a wait list that is hundreds of applicants long. It is against the law to be dual enrolled in 2 public schools. Plus it violates our rights to school choice. The $ doesn’t follow the child in Texas. RISD still gets my tax dollars every year, despite the fact that none of my kids attend their schools.

Texas Forever
2 years ago

RACE needs to do what many other clubs are doing that typically access ISD’s. Reach out to neighborhoods, HOA’s, anything will help to get kids in the water. UIL will issue the guidelines that are followed throughout the state or they could lose their ability to use the facility. Our ISD has told our club maybe August.

Post apocalyptic swimfan
Reply to  Texas Forever
2 years ago

I disagree. Many of these programs that operate out of ISD have had the posh life with fancy pools and ability to run meets any time they like. Now the smaller coached owned teams with smaller pools are the ones that get the head start. Follow the rules and guidelines of the state and school districts. Maybe this will open up school districts to get rid of the monopoly these associations have on pool time and allow multiple programs to share in these facilities.

PassionateCoach
Reply to  Post apocalyptic swimfan
2 years ago

Those ISD Pools Provide some pretty awesome meets for all athletes- maybe you all should appreciate that rather than gloat over the fact that we are not able to operate yet. Athletes should have the right to swim for coaches they trust regardless of their affiliation with district or not. Every athlete should have the right to choose a team/coach that is the best fit for them.
Seems to me there are some disgruntled programs that aren’t performing and are taking advantage of the “Covid” situation as a way to re-gain swimmers that have left their club for whatever reason.

Coaching is a passion for some of us – not a job! We care about every athlete and… Read more »

Coach
2 years ago

Be careful biting the hand that feeds you. These pools were built with taxpayer dollars for the high schools. Don’t make club swimming an enemy of the district’s AD, or that club pool time may be given to water polo, masters, or even a different club team. Being patient for a few more weeks is much better than burning bridges and becoming the bottom tier of an AD’s priority list.

SWMDAD
Reply to  Coach
2 years ago

As a taxpayer with in the ISD that has a student/swimmer that does online school would be left out. The problem is most of these facilities were built with bond funds and then are subsidized with tax dollars. When you add the fact that we are paying hundreds in team dues a month we are basically being tripped billed. how much of the “CLUB” dues go into the ISD general fund? The ISD makes major bucks off of swim teams and there needs to be a hard line between the two.

Gooner
2 years ago

While I applaud the lead being taken by Rockwall ISD the leadership by RISD in those allowed back is sorely lacking. Making a stand that some kids are more important than others seems arbitraryily unfair. This facility was built through a bond program paid for by all the residents of Rockwall for the use by all members of Rockwall. Setting a precedent of allowing some aribitrary members of the swim team and not all of the swim team back in the facility seems completely lacking in thought. Shame on you RISD!!!

Coach
Reply to  Gooner
2 years ago

So they should close the pool again?

What are you taking about?
Reply to  Coach
2 years ago

No one is advocating shutting the pool down. I think the point is that an interpretation has been made about who can and who can’t swim now the pool is open.

Buckeye Swim
Reply to  What are you taking about?
2 years ago

What is lost in all this is the kids have a better chance of drowning 18 &U deaths is 6 and about 2500 cases of the virus or .0025%

Not a Karen
Reply to  Coach
2 years ago

No- they should open like AAAA in San Antonio decided to open. OPEN TO THE WHOLE TEAM regardless if you are an “enrolled student-athlete for the district.” Not sure how the homeschool kids seem to be more of a risk. Especially when we all shop at the same grocery store.

H2OK
Reply to  Not a Karen
2 years ago

AAAA changed plans. See my comment above.

Noneya
Reply to  H2OK
2 years ago

PAC is open and doing masters and swim lessons as well as club. I also heard TWST is open now. Maybe these ISDs learned from the others and are trying something different?

Coachmommy
Reply to  Gooner
2 years ago

My kids are 6 and 7 and super high energy, so having them home with no school and no activities has been awful. I can’t WAIT to get them back in the water. However in terms of their developmental needs as swimmers, I would never say it’s the same as those in middle and high school. Also, older kids will likely be able to better function under the restrictions that will be in place, which will hopefully loosen as more things become accessible to more ages.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Coachmommy
2 years ago

Bet you never thought when you signed on for the mom gig that you’d someday say having your kids at home was awful. That’s why they make babies so cute. It’s a trick.

Noneya
2 years ago

So to all the other ISDs considering doing something like this, please understand that USA swimming should be the guidelines not UIL. If you read the new UIL closely and you have anything to do with swimming you realize that this is intent for collision sports (yes I mean football, this is Texas). This ISD is trying very hard to do right by its community by applying what they’re familiar with.
ISD’s not familiar with swimming or comfortable with USA swimming guidelines will be desperate to use something they’re familiar with, such as UIL. UIL has not published anything specific to swimming yet because high school swimming does not start in Texas until August.If they applied USA swimming guidelines… Read more »

Aaron
Reply to  Noneya
2 years ago

This would be true BUT the ISD’s are the ones one the hook financially if something happens. It is really that simple.

Noneya
Reply to  Aaron
2 years ago

Are they more liable for a homeschool child than an ISD child? The answer is no. AAAA an ISD owned team out of San Antonio just announced that they are going to let their children back starting next week. They are using USA swimming guidelines instead of UIL collision sport guidelines. Good for them!!! Let’s go.

H2OK
Reply to  Noneya
2 years ago

Update to AAAA in San Antonio: The one branch of AAAA planning to re-open to its club swimmers using USA Swimming guidelines has since changed course and is now doing what RACE/Rockwall plans to do (all the other AAAA branches are still closed with no reopening plans in sight). AAAA-Northeast is opening to its club swimmers but only those in grades 7 and up who are ALSO enrolled in a district school. This means no private school, homeschool, charter school, outside the district, graduating seniors, collegiate swimmers, younger swimmers, or masters. In the high performance group alone, dozens of kids are left out. Many of them are juniors/rising seniors who need this year for college recruiting. Meanwhile, 7th and 8th… Read more »

Corn Pop
2 years ago

Minnesota relaxed the restrictions . The next day Curfew & National Guard in APC patrolling .

Not a Karen
Reply to  Corn Pop
2 years ago

Which has nothing to do with trying to get kids back in the water.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Not a Karen
2 years ago

Yes Karen. However some things do stand in the way sometimes.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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