TEXARKANA — With mandatory regulations handed down by the University Interscholastic League and the Arkansas Activities Association, local high schools were adjusting training and practices for the active sports as of Monday.
With schools state-wide shut down in Arkansas, the AAA issued a statement to implement a dead period — no school activities involving student athletes and coaches — starting today through Sunday, March 29.
"On Monday, March 30, The AAA will reassess the COVID-19 situation and announce further plans," the release stated.
The AAA dead period includes school athletic facilities being closed, as well as prohibiting, "practice, training, weight lifting, tryouts, competition, or travel," for coaches and student athletes.
"We're completely shut down, no practices and no usage of our facilities," Arkansas High athletic director Barry Norton said. "We're trying to encourage social distancing. As serious as we are about our sports, the most important thing is the safety and well-being of our kids and our community. We're going to do our part, as best as we can, to help with this situation."
The UIL suspended all athletic competitions Friday and laid out regulations for school districts, both in session and out of session.
"It's a little different for us than some of the other schools in the area because we're on spring break right now," Texas High athletic director Gerry Stanford said about the practice and training times for the school's athletic programs. "We've got guidelines, provided by the UIL, as far as what we can and can't do, as far as practice goes.
"We have an 8-hour practice week with no more than 60 minutes a day. We've been told there will be more guidelines, given out by the UIL, either today or tomorrow (Tuesday), and we're going to stick to those guidelines. We're already very limited, as it is, to what we're doing. We're well under the scope of what the UIL has laid out for schools. There will be more decisions made this week, not just from the UIL but local decisions made on how to handle all of this."
While Texas High was on spring break starting Monday, both Pleasant Grove and Liberty-Eylau ISDs were in school Monday, but the decision to suspend classes beginning today through March 27 was made by each individual school district on Monday.
"Things can change, and it appears things will be changing with more information being gathered," PG athletic director Josh Gibson said. "As of Day 1, there were no competitions, but we're still in school and we're still working with kids."
Liberty-Eylau is attempting to keep the situation as normal as possible for its students, athletes and staff, while dealing with the fluid issue.
"We are going to shut down classes, as of Tuesday, and everything has been status quo, it's been normal," L-E athletic director Klint King said. "We had been working in the athletic period. With the shutdown, we don't have anything after school, and our teams will have some workouts Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to stay fresh so kids will be able to come back, hopefully, in two weeks when the UIL gives clearance for games and events. We're working on having a plan to give instruction online or via social media, for workouts, kids can do at home just so they can stay in shape.
"We want to keep engaged and active as much as possible, albeit with the understanding that if school is cancelled, it's to keep them at home, staying safe. We want them to know that if school is cancelled, it's not time for them to go to the movies or go bowling, it is for their safety, and so we can all get back to normal, as quickly as possible."
All Texas A&M University-Texarkana spring sports were also cancelled by the NAIA, which announced it was immediately ending the spring seasons nationwide due to the threat of COVID-19.