With the start of school weeks away, the Texas University Interscholastic League raised the curtain on its plan for conducting sports in the midst of the COVID-19 fight.

The UIL announced its updates calendar and mitigation guidelines set to take effect Aug. 1. Schools in Conferences 5A and 6A, which are chiefly in the metro areas will start later than Classes 1A and 4A.

Class 5A and 6A can begin football practice on Sept. 7, with the first games on Sept. 24. Final district standings must be determined by Dec. 5. Playoffs may run into January.

Henderson County area schools fall in the smaller classifications, including Athens, Brownsboro and Mabank in Conference 4A, Eustace, Kemp and Malakoff in 3A, Cross Roads in AA.

In those classifications, the first day for football and volleyball practice is August 3. Volleyball matches can begin on August 10, while football starts on August 27. Cross Country and Tennis can commence on August 17.

“Our goal in releasing this plan is to provide a path forward for Texas students and schools,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “While understanding situations change and there will likely be interruptions that will require flexibility and patience, we are hopeful this plan allows students to participate in the education-based activities they love in a way that prioritizes safety and mitigates risk of COVID-19 spread.”

According to a UIL press release, COVID-19 affects every community differently and the plan also allows for local flexibility and encourages districts to plan for possible interruptions in order to complete district seasons.

The LaPoynor Flyers and Martins Mill Mustangs were on the doorstep of playing for state basketball titles in March when Texas was hit by COVID-19 restrictions.

Later the UIL honored the schools, crowning them co-state champions in their respective divisions.

Before play was stopped, pitches were also begin thrown in baseball and softball, while track and field athletes were making their laps.

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