The University Interscholastic League (UIL) released updated guidance Wednesday, July 22 signaling its biggest leap forward towards restarting athletic competition again since allowing offseason strength and conditioning workouts to take place in June.

Wharton ISD will reopen much like others will across the state on Monday, Aug. 3.

“We will be resuming workouts,” Wharton Athletics Director Chad Butler said. “We will continue to follow all guidelines and safety measures. Students and staff will be required to wear (a) mask.”

Boling ISD will also reopen the same day.

Now armed with an updated UIL direction, coaches will be allowed to start having more competitive drills as part of their instruction. With the new drills and guidance, a return to sports continues to take steps forward with August less than a month away.

“All we can do is continue to prepare as if we will start on time and do all we can to ensure (the) safety of students and staff,” Butler said.

Strength and conditioning and sport-specific skills like throwing and catching footballs and linemen working on footwork have been allowed as well as volleyball players working on their skills.

For football Monday, defensive backs can guard offensive receivers on pass drills amongst other drills.

While sports is taking steps forward, the added rise in COVID-19 cases is not lost on the UIL. Among the changes to upcoming workouts, masks or face coverings are to be worn at all times unless actively working out, not just by athletes but coaches and anyone else that will be around the school’s facilities. Masks will also need to be worn coming to and leaving workouts. Shared water is still not allowed.

The main focus in Wharton will continue to be getting athletes in shape but when appropriate they will add in sport-specific drills.

Not stated in the guidance, but face coverings for those not playing could be something required come August when games and scrimmages start to take place. No UIL sanctioned sport has been played since spring break when COVID-19 first began to take hold in the state. However, with each small step they take, football and other sports are getting closer to happening.

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