Here’s what the lifting of Texas’ mask mandate means for high school sports

Brian Gosset
·2 min read

The University Interscholastic League announced modifications to its risk mitigation guidelines on Thursday following Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement to drop the statewide mask mandate next week.

Schools are allowed to modify or eliminate the mask requirement, as long as they remain consistent with guidance from the Texas Education Agency. Schools are also allowed to determine spectator capacity and seating arrangements for UIL events.

The UIL did not specify whether it will only pertain to indoor or outdoor sports. However, following next week’s state basketball tournament, the majority of sports left are outdoors.

Under the current order, masks or face coverings are required for spectators and any coach or player not actively participating, unless the school has been exempted. Spectator capacity has been limited to 50%. All new modifications may go in effect starting Wednesday.

However, TEA said that school boards have the authority to determine mask policy.

Fort Worth ISD said on Wednesday that it doesn’t intend to rescind its requirement that students use face masks as a measure to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Abbott’s announcement also included opening of all Texas businesses to 100%. Abbott’s order requiring the use of face coverings statewide has been in effect since July. At that time, he said face coverings were a necessary step to keep businesses open.

It’s nearly been one year since the final high school games of the 2019-20 school year were played following the start of the pandemic. Sports such as boys basketball, soccer, softball and baseball were going on up until March 14, when the UIL suspended all activities.

The lifting of the mask mandate comes on the same day as the start of the two-day UIL girls basketball state championships in San Antonio. The boys championships follow March 12-13.

The UIL said it will continue to work with state officials and monitor the CDC and other federal guidance to determine any potential modifications that may become necessary.

TAPPS

Officials in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools also announced its plans moving forward following Abbott’s announcement.

According to executive director Bryan Bunselmeyer, TAPPS will allow member schools to establish protocols. Schools will be responsible for events they participate in, but restrictions shouldn’t be imposed on opponents unless mutually agreed upon.

TAPPS will effectively withdraw capacity limits, allowing schools to determine crowd size.

The association continues to recommend social distancing where possible and masks should be worn by those who feel at risk for contracting COVID.

TAPPS will continue to monitor the metrics for the pandemic and will offer any necessary advisories.