COVID-19: UIL presses fans to mask up at events

Staff photos by Albert Villegas

Wharton Tiger fans are shown during a home opener against Columbia at Eddie Joseph Memorial Stadium on Friday, Sept. 4. Announcer Jerrell Barron, who is also the Wharton High School principal, is shown in the press box. He often reminded fans about UIL mandates that require fans to wear masks during the course of a high school game. The bottom photos are of fans at the Wharton/Columbia volleyball game, and Boling Bulldogs fans at the season opener in Van Vleck, also on Friday.

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) issued its 2020-21 COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Guidelines to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). These guidelines are in addition to guidance issued by the TEA and intended to be implemented along with TEA guidance, which applies to academic and extracurricular non-UIL activities.

This action came after fans last week were shown at Texas high school football games from Class 4A and below.

According to news reports, images from across the state showed many fans not wearing masks. The UIL reported the guidelines explain in part that “schools are still required to follow Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-29 related to face coverings.” 

On Thursday, Sept. 3, the Journal-Spectator e-mailed each superintendent from Wharton, Boling and East Bernard. In the e-mail, each was told the UIL said, “It is recommended that each school identify a staff member or group of staff members to serve as compliance officer(s) to oversee effective use of these protocols. Schools must follow all requirements of state authorities …”

The Journal-Spectator asked each superintendent the following: “What is or will (your) ISD do regarding these guidelines?” Each was told other superintendents from neighboring ISDs were e-mailed the same question. By press time the next day, no school official had responded.

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