Summer activities led by coaches and athletic trainers commenced June 8, and district officials have implemented “vigorous sanitization protocols” and social distancing measures to help keep staff and students safe, Zepeda said at a June 16 board of trustees meeting.
This includes screening staff and students daily, temperature checks upon arrival and disinfecting balls and other sporting equipment between use.
“If they’re inside, if you can imagine this, between every single person, every time they touch a bar or touch a weight, those weights have to be cleaned before another student gets in to lift that same weight,” Zepeda said.
The Texas Education Agency and University Interscholastic League laid out several requirements for school districts bringing students back to campuses for fine arts and athletics practices this summer in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before students and staff could return to district facilities, they were educated on these guidelines, according to officials.
Zepeda said even as coaches are instructing athletes, custodial staff members are disinfecting areas in addition to nightly and weekly deep-cleaning processes.
On-site training and practices are currently limited to high school students, but Zepeda said he is hopeful middle school students will be able to join in soon as regulations are loosened. Coaches and athletes must be at least 6-10 feet apart from one another at all times, he said.
“Trying to limit their personal interaction can be very challenging,” Zepeda said. “I think our coaches have gotten very good at saying, ‘Hey, spread apart, stay away’ and trying to explain what 6 feet is and what 10 feet is.”
Similar protocols are being implemented in fine arts programs that are preparing for fall competitions such as marching band and dance teams, Director of Fine Arts Mary Running said at the June 16 meeting.
These groups are starting out with smaller groups and holding leadership camps, officer camps, percussion camps and guard camps before transitioning to full rehearsals in late July. Like athletes, these students and staff members are required to complete online trainings in proper hygiene and other guidelines from the TEA and UIL, Running said.
Participants also complete daily health screenings and temperature checks and are required to be a minimum of 6-10 feet apart at all times depending on the activity. For instance, students can be no closer than 10 feet away from each other when marching, dancing, singing or playing wind instruments.
Chief Academic Officer Linda Macias said about 2,100 students are expected to return to campus for face-to-face summer school programming starting July 6 with no more than 10 students per teacher. For now, about 37,500 students are participating in virtual summer school offered at no cost.