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2020-2021 UIL COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Guidelines

The following guidance related to UIL activities, based on the public health situation as we understand it today, applies to the 2020-2021 school year. This guidance is useful on August 1, 2020. Changes to the public health situation may necessitate changes to this guidance.

Given the varying numbers of COVID-19 cases across different areas of the state and the vast geographic area in Texas, UIL is presenting modifications for the 2020-21 school year that reflect the situation at this time. UIL will continue to work with state officials and monitor CDC and other federal guidance to determine any potential modifications that may become necessary. Schools should prepare for the possibility of interruptions in contest schedules.

District Executive Committees should work and plan to accommodate, as best possible, for these interruptions.

These guidelines are in addition to guidance issued by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and intended along with TEA guidance, which applies to academic and extracurricular non-UIL activities.

The information below includes a requirement for schools to develop a plan for mitigating the risk of COVID-19 spread during UIL activities. Schools should take their local context into account and follow all state requirements when considering UIL activities.

Each school recommendation is to identify a staff member or group of staff members to serve as a compliance officer(s) to oversee these protocols’ effective use. Schools must follow all requirements of state authorities in addition to the conditions below.

Face Coverings- Executive Order GA-29

Executive Order GA-29, regarding face coverings, applies to all UIL activities effective July 3, 2020. It includes the 2020-2021 school year. As the public health situation changes, and if Governor Greg Abbott issues subsequent Executive Orders, these guidelines may be further modified.

  1. For this document’s purposes, face coverings include non-medical grade disposable face masks, cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth), or full-face shields to protect eyes, nose, and mouth. Face shields may be superior to cloth face coverings in many circumstances, given improved ability to see mouth movements and improved air circulation.
  2. All employees, parents, visitors, and students ten years of age or older must wear face coverings or face shields upon entry to an area where UIL conducts activities and when not actively practicing or playing in the contest, unless an exception listed below applies.
  3. The face coverings requirements do not apply to a school in a county that meets paragraph 11 of Executive Order GA-29 unless the local school system chooses to implement these requirements locally. Even in these circumstances, the wearing of face coverings or face shields is strongly encouraged.

Exceptions to the wearing of face coverings or face shields include:

  • Any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
  • While a person is consuming food or drink;
  • While the person is in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water.
  • When a congregating group of persons maintains at least 6 feet of social distancing; or
  • Any other reason or circumstance indicated under Executive Order GA-29.

General Operational Guidelines

REQUIRED OF ALL SCHOOLS:

TEA requires all school systems to develop a plan for mitigating COVID-19 spread in schools. UIL guidelines require schools to include UIL activities for the 2020-2021 school year as part of this plan and carefully plan for reducing the risk of spread as students and staff participate in them. Schools must post these plans on the school web site’s homepage or another easily accessible area of the school website. These plans do not require UIL or TEA approval.

Required Screening

Required screening before attending or participating in activities:

If the school has not screened staff to participate in instructional activities, schools must implement these screening protocols before allowing staff to participate in UIL activities.

  1. Schools must require staff to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before participating in UIL activities or entering areas where UIL conducts activities. Listed are symptoms at the end of this document. The self-screening should include staff taking their temperature. Staff must report to the school if they have COVID-19 symptoms or are lab-confirmed with COVID-19. If so, they must remain off-campus and away from areas conducted by UIL activities until they meet the criteria for re-entry, as noted below. Additionally, they must report to the school any close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, as defined at the end of this document. If so, they must remain off campus away from areas where UIL conducts activities until the 14-day incubation period has passed. The close contact definition is in the document below.
  2. Parents must ensure they do not send a student to participate in UIL activities if the student has COVID-19 symptoms (as listed in this document) or is lab-confirmed with COVID-19 until the below meeting conditions for re-entry. School systems may consider screening students for COVID-19 as well. You can accomplish screening by asking questions by phone or other electronic methods and in person. The screening questions should also be asked of a student’s parent if that parent will be dropping off or picking up their student from inside areas where UIL conducts activities.
  3. Before visitors are allowed access to areas where UIL conducts activities, school systems must screen all visitors to determine if they have COVID-19 symptoms (as listed in this document), or have lab-confirmed COVID-19. If so, they must remain off-campus and away from areas where UIL conducts activities until they meet the criteria for re-entry, as noted below. Additionally, school systems must screen to determine if visitors have had close contact with an individual who is lab-confirmed with COVID-19. If so, they must remain off-campus and away from areas where UIL conducts activities until the 14-day incubation period has passed. When practical, supplement screening questions with temperature checks of adults.
  4. Schools are permitted to prevent any individual who fails the screening criteria from being admitted into school facilities or sites where UIL conducts activities until they meet the re-entry criteria as described below. Any individual for whom screening cannot be confirmed should be presumed symptomatic until proved otherwise.

Individuals Confirmed or Suspected with COVID-19

  1. Any individuals who themselves either: (a) are lab-confirmed to have COVID-19; or (b) experience the symptoms of COVID-19 (listed below) must stay at home throughout the infection period, and cannot return to campus until the school system screens the individual to determine any of the below conditions for campus re-entry have been met:
  • If diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to school when they meet all three of the following criteria:
    • at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without fever-reducing medications);
    • the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
    • at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • If an individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and who are not evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, you assume such an individual has COVID-19. They may not return to the campus until the individual has completed the same three-step set of criteria listed above.
  • If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above stay at home period, the individual must either (a) obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for the return based on an alternative diagnosis or (b) receive two separate confirmations at least 24 hours apart that they are free of COVID-19 via acute infection tests at an approved COVID-19 testing location found at https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/.

Identifying Possible COVID-19 Cases on Campus

  • Schools must immediately separate any student who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school until they can be picked up by a parent or guardian.
  • Schools should clean the areas used by the individual who shows COVID-19 signs while at school (student, teacher, or staff) as soon as it is feasible.
  • Students who report feeling feverish should receive a quick temperature check to determine if they are symptomatic for COVID-19.

This document refers to “close contact” with an individual who is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19. An appropriate public health agency determines close contact. For clarity, close contact is:

  • being directly exposed to infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on while not wearing a mask or face shield); or
  • being within 6 feet for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes, while not wearing a mask or face shield;

If either occurred at any time in the last 14 days at the same time, the infected individual was infectious.

Individuals are infectious at least two days before symptom onset or asymptomatic individuals who are lab-confirmed with COVID-19, two days before the confirming lab test.

Required Actions if Individuals with Lab-Confirmed Cases Have Been in a school or in an Area Where UIL conducts activities

  1. If an individual who has been in areas where UIL conducts activities is lab-confirmed to have COVID-19, the school must notify its local health department, by applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, including confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  2. Schools must close off areas heavily used by the individual with the lab-confirmed case (student, teacher, or staff) until disinfection of the non-porous surfaces in those areas unless more than three days have already passed since that person was on campus.
  3. Consistent with school notification requirements for other communicable diseases, and consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a school if a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate in any UIL activities.

COVID-19 Symptoms

In evaluating whether an individual has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, consider the following questions:

Have they recently begun experiencing any of the following in a way that is not normal for them?

  • Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Shaking or exaggerated shivering
  • Significant muscle pain or ache
  • Diarrhea

Screening Questionnaire Information

  1. When asking individuals if they have symptoms for COVID-19, school systems must only require the individual to provide a “Yes” or “No” to the overall statement that they are symptomatic for COVID-19, as opposed to asking the individual for specific symptom confirmation. School systems are not entitled to collect information during screening on an individual’s accurate health information beyond that they are symptomatic.
  2. Once you determine that individuals who responded “Yes” to either of these questions have met the re-entry criteria, school systems must destroy those individuals’ responses.

Performance Areas, Band Halls, Locker Rooms and Other Congregate Settings

  1. Schools should make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap, and water, or similar disinfectant readily available in these areas.
  2. All congregate areas should be regularly and frequently cleaned and disinfected, including all frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, chairs, lockers, and restrooms.
  3. You should thoroughly clean any equipment kept in student lockers and disinfected each day before students access these areas. Schools should develop a plan for managing the storage, cleaning and disinfecting, and redistribution of student equipment.
  4. Schools should consider identifying staff to monitor locker rooms and other areas where students may congregate to ensure effective use of school protocols. When possible, schools should open windows and doors or otherwise work to improve airflow by allowing outside air to circulate in these areas.
  5. Schools must require staff and students to wear face coverings while inside locker rooms, meeting rooms, training rooms, band halls, and other areas where students may congregate other than shower facilities.
  6. As part of their overall plan, schools should develop a plan for mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19 when disinfecting, cleaning, and laundering items such as towels, practice clothes, and uniforms. This plan should include protocols for redistributing these items to students. Involved staff should be trained specifically on these protocols.

Practice and Rehearsal Activities

In addition to the above general guidelines and rules in the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules and UIL manuals and handbooks, the following applies to practice activities during the 2020-2021 school year.

  1. Thoroughly disinfect all surfaces in practice areas throughout and at the end of each day.
  2. Any equipment should be regularly cleaned before, during, and after practice sessions.
  3. Schools may provide food, water, or other drinks. If they give these items, schools should do so to ensure students are not sharing these items.

The Game, Contest, and Event Management

In addition to the above guidelines and rules in the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules and UIL manuals and handbooks, the following applies to games, scrimmages, and events:

 Teams and Participants

  1. If the school plans to offer students transportation, schools should follow TEA guidance related to such transportation.
  2. Teams and participants are required to wear face coverings as described in Executive Order GA-29.
  3. The host site should designate a cleaned and disinfected area for teams to unload and load buses separate from fans, spectators, and other individuals not essential to the team or group.
  4. Visiting team /group locker rooms should be cleaned and sanitized by the host site before the visiting team arrives. Visiting teams/groups are responsible for cleaning and unloading, disinfecting equipment. Schools should limit these facilities to only students and staff essential for the game, contest, or event.
  5. Before each game, contest, or event, schools should follow the screening protocols described above to screen all staff members, contractors, volunteers, sports officials, contest judges, and individuals otherwise involved in working the event. These individuals should also self-screen as described in these screening protocols.
  6. Fan and spectator areas, including bleachers, stands, walkways, and other spectator areas, should be at least six feet from team /group areas such as team benches or performance areas. Distancing is not feasible. Utilize other methods to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as face coverings, implementing engineered controls such as physical barriers, or other risk mitigation efforts the school deems appropriate.
  7. You may provide food, water, or other drinks, and food, as previously indicated.
  8. Schools or host sites should consider doing so to ensure students are not sharing these items.
  9. Other areas used by participants, such as press box areas, should be cleaned and disinfected before and after use. Sites should develop plans for providing access to these areas that limit or remove potential contact between participants and non-participants.
  10. The host site should provide sports and contest officials a space to enter and exit separate from fans. Provide officials a dressing and meeting area, if applicable, that is clean and disinfect before their arrival.
  11. Pregame or pre-event meetings between teams and sports and contest officials should plan to allow appropriate distancing between individuals.
  12. Conduct pregame and post-game gestures of sportsmanship between teams, games, and contest officials in ways to help reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
  13. Provide all participants with entry and exit plans for contest areas that maintain separation from non-participants and fans. Individuals not essential to the team or group should not have access to contest areas, performance areas, courts, or fields before, during, or after contests and events.

 Student Groups not directly involved in the game or contest

Student groups such as marching bands, cheerleaders, drill teams, and other groups approved by the school district may attend and perform at games or contests in which they are not competing. Schools should consider limiting the number of participants to those essential to the performance.

  1. These student groups should remain separate from the game or contest participants at all times. These student groups should avoid mixing with fans or non-group members throughout the game or contest.
  2. Student groups are required to wear face coverings as described in Executive Order GA-29.
  3. Schools should consider limiting the number of students and staff given access to the playing areas and ensure protocols for entering and exiting the playing areas are in place.
  4. Locate fans and spectators to provide at least ten feet of distance from bands playing wind instruments.
  5. These students should maintain appropriate distancing from a game or contest participants, including when on the sideline.

 Spectators, Audiences, Fans, and Media

Schools may allow spectators to attend games, contests, or events within a maximum 50% capacity limitation. Maintain appropriate spacing between spectators according to the protocol, and according to the following:

  1. Schools and host sites should post visible signs and messages stating any individuals who are confirmed to have, suspected of having, are experiencing symptoms of, or have been in close contact with an individual who has been confirmed to have COVID-19 should not enter the facility.
  2. Spectators, audiences, fans, and media must wear face coverings as described in Executive Order GA-29.
  3. Sites are encouraged to utilize remote ticketing options to help manage capacity limitations within a 50% occupancy maximum. Minimize paper tickets and programming to help avoid transferable materials.
  4. If possible, set reserved times for entry to prevent mass arrivals.
  5. Groups should maintain at least six feet of distance from other groups at all times, including admission and seating. A group is no more than ten people, including household members and those who traveled together to the facility.
  6. Schools should not allow seating in consecutive rows and should block off seating to maintain a minimum of six feet of distance between groups.
  7. Pathways for spectator ingress and egress should be marked and unobstructed.
  8. Schools should provide hand sanitizing stations and hand washing stations at entrances and inside the facility.
  9. Seating, handrails, and other joint surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected before each game or contest.
  10. Press Box seating should include social distancing of at least six feet between individuals when possible.
  11. Schools should limit access to working media providing coverage of the event to ensure the following of protocols.
  12. Conduct post-game interviews while wearing face coverings and maintaining at least six feet of distance between the interviewer and individual interviewed.

 Concession Stands and Food Service

For games, contests, and events that will include concession stands or another food service, the following guidelines apply:

  1. Staff, contractors, and volunteers involved in food service must wear face coverings as described in Executive Order GA-29.
  2. Sites should avoid leaving condiments, silverware, flatware, glassware, or other traditional tabletop items on unoccupied tables or counter. Sites should only provide condiments or flatware upon request, and in single-use, individually wrapped pieces.
  3. Regularly clean and disinfect the foodservice counters and areas. Clean and disinfect dining areas (tables, etc.) after each patron departs.
  4. Limit contact between the individuals involved in foodservice and patrons as much as possible. Have employees, contractors, and volunteers follow proper food-handling protocols.
  5. Before each game, schools should follow the screening protocols described above to screen staff, contractors, and volunteers involved in food service before events. These individuals should also self-screen as described in these screening protocols.

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