Q&A Panels from Athletic Directors around the state. Topics include budgets, equipment returning, physical requirements, helmet conditioning, summer strength and conditioning, and more!

May 13th ,2020
Region 3 Panelists
David Kuykendall: Frisco ISD
Shawn Pratt: McKinney ISD
Johnny Ringo: Highland Park ISD
Leslie Slovak: Richardson ISD
Philip O’Neal: Mansfield ISD

What are you preparing for if we have the opportunity to return in mid-June?

Kuykendall: Had a call yesterday with Performance Course to make sure on the same page & with UIL guidelines. Trying to be on point when we have more direction from UIL. Already in the process of buying gloves, masks, sanitizer, thermometers, foggers, etc. Trying to figure out who many kids can be in the weight room at any time. Trying to figure out when to open the Natatorium, a little different than everything else. A lot of club swim in the area and are trying to get in there a lot earlier than schools.

Pratt: got a lot of the supplies in the beginning. Met with athletic trainers to try and set up protocol on how student athletes will enter/exit.

Ringo: Proposed June 22nd-29th start date to Superintendent at the beginning. Trying to accommodate coaches to have 3 day camp in July. Still trying to hold May physical date at the end of the month.

Slovak: nothing new to add, brainstorming. The rules will drive what the plan looks like. Question from S&C coaches: could your coaches lead a virtual workout? The answer is yes

How are you handling sport specific camps this summer?

O’neal: some people have already cancelled, some are waiting to see what is opening up, some are waiting until July. All over the map.

Have you been asked to cut your budget?

Anticipate, not asked yet: O’Neal, Ringo, Slovak

What are you currently preparing for if we can return in August?

Kuykendall: recently put a committee together in Frisco to talk about what the next school year could look like. The TEA website has what it would look like for year round schooling. The committee talked about a/b day schedule where one day they are at school and the other day they’re not. A very early thing to talk about, mainly just discussion right now.

Pratt: what does everything look at for 25-50%, what can we do for the stands, concessions, etc? Trying to look at ways that we can make things work. Field diagrams

Slovak: from a planning standpoint, we are planning best case that we are back on time. All the coaches have met in the new districts and ready to go. Trying to work on what we can control right now. Everything is ordered and ready for the fall.

O’Neal: working on things that I have control on and not wasting energy on things I cannot control.

May 14th, 2020
Region 5 Panelists

Andre Walker: Houston ISD
Debbie Decker: Katy ISD
Debbie Fuchs: Clear Creek ISD
Troy Kite: Humble ISD
Ray Zepeda: Cy Fair ISD

What strategies/priorities have been established in the past couple weeks/end the school year?

Walker: 3 of our athletic facilities are being used for testing facilities. Information sent out to his athletic coordinators: testing locations, food distribution centers to pass on to kids and to take care of themselves/families. Not pushing out a lot of athletic information right now. Made sure kids have gotten what they needed off campus and start preparing for next year by getting equipment from the campuses (helmets, etc.). Cleaning: having all facilities cleaned after testing is over. Waiting for testing to end so everything can be cleaned/athletic staff back in office.

Decker: weekly coordinator meetings for the most up to date information. Organized each campus to get back equipment. High Schools let kids get stuff out of the lockers. Exercised social distancing, had masks, stayed 6-8 ft. away. Once they collected equipment from kids they let it sit for 7 days before laundered. In Middle Schools the coaches had bags with the kids stuff and they would put it in the trunk/kid would drop equipment off. Trying to do end of season meetings with spring sports and doing inventory for equipment.

Fuchs: Similar to Decker, did equipment pick up at HS last week. High return of kids returning things, did same thing at intermediate. End of season sport meetings just like if we were meeting face to face. Doing challenges with coaches each week: pay it forward (what can you do in your community?) Will be celebrating scholarship athletes virtually instead of a luncheon. Still setting it up.

Kite: doing budget things. Letting every department roll over any remaining budget to the next year. Hard to get equipment back on a normal year, even harder now. No punishments if things are not returned. Did equipment returns last week to determine what losses they will have equipment. Budget is a big concern.

Conditioning of helmets/to send them off or not?

Kite: High School not going to because want be able to get them back if we start on time. Did Middle School right after and in the process of getting it back.

Decker: some were already done and have gotten returned. Some have had shut downs so waiting on some to come back (stuck in an in between). System around the district of sharing with each other if needed.

Fuchs: sent them off already and got them back.

What have you done for the possible return of athletics for kids?

Kite: had a whole plan ready before UIL announcement today. No HS facilities are available to public. Had plan for open weight room, batting cages, etc. Had a detailed plan to get kids in weight room. Thermometer station, questionnaire, consent release, staggered the weight room to be less than 25%. Have gloves, masks for coaches and they would be doing the sanitization.

Walker: talked to superintendent about starting outside. As we continue to go and get more info hopefully move inside to the weight room.

Fuchs: same thing. Asking coordinators how many kids they can bring in and follow the guidelines and making plans for their campuses. Will be sent to asst. superintendent of athletics.

Decker: athletic trainers are working with asst. ADs for sanitation plans. Possibility doing outside weight rooms. We had MS track and fields open. Plan moving forward: 100 different scenarios, talked to coordinators yesterday about what if you only had 25 kids at a time.

Zepeda: having to screen everybody who comes in now. We purchased the infrared thermometers for each campus and looking at supplies to make sure everyone is comfortable.

Kite: took the government parameters for public gyms (employees have to wear masks, etc.) TEA commissioner came in last week on his call and said if/when we get back to schools it would be 10 students to 1 teacher and we made a back up plan for that as well.

Zepeda: Susan mentioned that they will put out a lengthy Q&A from UIL to help everyone get back/up to standards.

Everyone’s plans with physicals after emergency Legislative Council meeting?

Decker: May 26th we are going to the board to follow the UIL guidelines. 3rd week in July looking to use sign up genius and do an appointment type schedule. Start with coaches/bus driver physicals and as we get into August target middle school athletes.

Fuchs: have not set anything in stone because athletic trainers still want to have physicals annually. Visiting with superintendent and checking with local doctors to see if they can handle annual physical load.

Walker: everyone has to have new physicals. Have school based clinics and will be utilizing those

Kite: essentially the same thing as Katy ISD. Partner with Memorial Herman so they usually provide physical dates but staffing for that is not conducive right now. Have a list of places to go with the costs/who can handle it to send out to parents once everything is approved. If you have one on file from last year, we will use it this year.

Zepeda: 3 hospital systems that felt they couldn’t service 17,000 athletes right now. Amended our policy to if you have a valid one on file and a successful questionnaire you do not have to get a new one.

Calendar: what the fall might look like/What you think it might look like?

Decker: direct supervisor started calling meetings once a week throughout the summer to discuss what it will look like. Possibility starting a week earlier, longer school days, longer break at winter, maybe kids come every other day, etc. We will fight to still have an athletic period for coaches/kids to connect.

Fuchs: similar to Katy. Possibility of a hybrid schedule: in class/online. Extended calendar with the breaks in the middle. Setting up a committee that will have a huge impact on decision making. Bringing in the community and experts that will make the decision in the next month.

Walker: same as Katy. Talked abut virtual for summer school. Meet every Friday with supervisors to discuss all different kinds of possibilities: starting earlier, longer days, we will see.

Kite: just like everybody else, superintendents are getting same information. 50% or hybrid could be very doable with athletics. 25% might be a little more difficult. The key for us is that we are very extra curricular driven. The safest way possible but getting the kids back to normal. Not seeing the year round calendar happening.

Zepeda: Local decision by everyone from my discretion. Our superintendent wants kids back on campus in the fall. But they are looking at plans for all virtual, blended model (every other day in school), as well as full participation. My concern on the blended model for athletics/the contact that comes with athletics.

Kite: if 6 ft is still a thing, sports as we know it may not happen. Have to prepare a lot of plans in advance.

Budget implications: what are you hearing about your 2020-21 budget/any cuts? What about 21-22?

Decker: spoke with CFO and he felt that we will be somewhat insolated next school year. But 21-22 will have significant cuts in education. At some point districts have stated tapping the breaks at expenditures. If they don’t there will be a big break in the next year. Heard from Austin that plexi glass will be installed in the cafeteria, etc. but waiting to see. Fully think that athletic revenue will be reduced, over $2 million last year will not happen.

Fuchs: similar to Decker, okay right now and fortunate moving into the next school year. Nervous about 21-22.

Kite: this year only essential things were brought forward in budget: officials got approved but that’s about it. CFO is projecting 32-40 million operation deficit. A lot of that includes money we will not be spending next year. 21-22 could potentially be brutal. Trying not to hire anyone this year: last one in, first one out.

Walker: pretty much the same stuff. Will be fine this year but 21-22 could be rough. Will impact equipment, uniforms for the kids in the future.

May 19th, 2020
Region 6 Panelists

Dwayne Weirich: Round Rock ISD
Leal Anderson: Austin ISD
Todd Raymond: Pflugerville ISD
Janice Williamson: Bryan ISD
Jason Dean: Georgetown ISD
Jody Hormann: Leander ISD

How is your district handling the lettering of athletes who did not participate in sports?

Williamson: our plan is to letter all the athletes who would have qualified

Dean: same plan, if they were going to get pulled up from JV to letter on varsity we’re not going to hold that against them

Pool: around the country: some said they would letter when they get uniforms, they would letter all seniors, letter all athletes who did community service if they did so many hours.

How are you preparing yourself for Summer S&C?

Raymond: started purchasing sanitizer, thermometers, wipes, cleaning stuff, etc. so if/when we are allowed to start we are prepared. Do not want to rely on custodian service.

Weirich: important to start having conversations with people in leadership positions: what will we allow as a district once things are released by the UIL

How are you handling sport specific camps this summer?

Hormann: planned on being closed all of June as a district, but will try to change now with the June 8th date. Nothing indoors for the camps, unsure of what it will look like. If indoors are not able to do it, should you let outdoors do it? Something to discuss as a district/with local areas.

Dean: equity part is important if indoors cannot have a camp. Have to be mindful of that until June 8th.

 Any concerns with 2021-22 budget?

Weirich: No, budget was increased with rule changes such as officials. Do not anticipate budget cuts at this time.

Raymond: finance department did a purchasing freeze at the beginning. Got that lifted to buy stuff for the fall. Trying to make sure the purchases are needed and not wanted. With respect to next year, I requested a budget increase and got the feedback that it would not be available at this point.

How are you preparing for school starting in August?

Williamson: looked at all of the proposals from TEA as a district and looked at eliminating some of the teacher workdays/in services and bringing kids back a week earlier. As for athletics, we’re working with trainers to find out the best way to get kids in weight rooms, bought backpack foggers and stocked up on everything to keep the place clean. Superintendent is tied in close with A&M so anything they do will impact us.

Anderson: do know that once we start this fall it will be different. Different calendar scenarios if there’s a resurgence. Thinking that there will be a piece of school online and waiting for direction from the governor. Are we able to get fall sports up? We are hopeful but know it will be different no matter what.

Dean: do not participate in adjusting the calendar so trying to see how it all plays out. Wanting to start sports on time. Summer workout plan will be different, have to think of: how are we handling water bottles?, other scenarios. Having to adjust and think about things we haven’t thought about before.

If your school day is interrupted, how does athletics fit in to the school day?

Anderson: brainstorming right now, no decisions have been made because it is difficult. Not sure how all of it would work because if you’re only with 25% what do you do with the other 75%? How do you travel with those restrictions? Still a lot of work of what needs to be done around that. Want our kids to participate and be engaged as much as possible. Have had our coaches reach out as much as they can online. Face to face is big in athletics and want to get back to that as soon as possible.

What do you do if coaches are apprehensive to return?

Raymond: have already had coaches help with equipment pick up. Have flipped it back on the coach and say what can we do on our end to get you up here and comfortable with the situation. Will be interesting to see what measures we will have to take.

Anderson: will not put our coaches in a situation where they must make a decision. If we can help them so they can be comfortable and be with the kids (masks, hand sanitizers, etc.) we will do everything we can to help them feel safe in their minds.

What strategies/priorities have you taken in your department to close things out this year?

Dean: 2 weeks ago we had the equipment pick up: one campus per day and one sport at a time; an all day process. Communicated well with student/parents on the process. Only 2 kids in locker rooms at a time and had to wear masks/gloves, cleaned out lockers in 3 minutes. Good turnout, around 75% of students showed up. Closing out department: doing end of the year meetings online through zoom. Not the way we wanted to do it but necessary.

Hormann: we are not allowing any kids in school facilities so coaching staff cleaned out lockers. Worked with their principals to have a couple days to clean out lockers and pick up days for equipment are happening this week where kids are dropping off anything they need to return as well. Closing the year: really pushed for ordering to be completed before Spring Break so not much ordering once this started happening.

Williamson: process was like Hormann’s; did a lot of things district wide. Athletics went yesterday/today and the coaches bagged up the lockers and put the bags in the parking lot and the kid turned their equipment in and picks up their bag from the lockers. The cloth goods will sit for 7 days and then will be washed on the highest temperature allowed. Fogged all of the locker & equipment rooms a few weeks ago. Very few have been allowed to go on campus. All coaches are working to help with the process. Closing the year: google meets have been done for coach evaluations. Helmet reconditioning was sent in early on around Spring Break once realized Spring Football would not be happening. Budget: looking at anything ordered right now very closely because once legislature meets and oil/gas money isn’t there we want to be in a position where we can survive.

What is your district doing for physical requirements?

Hormann: following UIL exceptions, it is in our board policy for every kid to get a physical every year. Have to go through some things for the board to approve that.

Anderson: same boat. Still waiting on board approval to follow UIL exception.

Williamson: very similar, have been in contact with the board and do require a physical every year but decided will follow new guidelines this year.

May 27th, 2020
Region 8 Panelists
Dr. Brian Woods: Northside ISD
Dr. Lloyd Verstuyft: Southwest ISD
Mr. Roland Toscano: East Central ISD

UIL has released guidelines for a start date of June 8th, what are the positives and what do you see as concerns?

Woods: We are hopeful, the opportunity for us to start as early as June 8th is a hopeful thing. I think that this is doable and something we can accomplish; it will be a little more expensive because of the student to coach ratio. I think it is important to not rush to make plans, we need to be comfortable before we execute it. It is a great opportunity to take the first wave of kids interacting with staff and getting involved.

With the safety cautions, do you think getting everything for sanitation/PPE equipment will halt the start of S&C?

Toscano: We have been able to acquire what we need for our plan initially. We are aware of what that entails and will provide everything we need for proper sanitation. I do not think it will be an obstacle.

Do you have any concern with participation of kids in S&C? Any obstacles?

Verstuyft: This is where local decisions really come into play. Have to consider other summer plans going on. Have to be cautious and make sound decisions for everyone involved.

Fundraising and sponsorships: what are your thoughts on trying to continue to obtain them?

Toscano: I don’t think we necessarily change our relationship with who supports us. We have to be considerate and might need to suppress our expectations.

Plans for compensating coaches this summer?

Woods: Plan to compensate coaches, because of the number of coaches per student will make it more fiscally challenging than the past. Official pay: concerned for the budget in the immediate range. Plan to compensate in an equitable way in a diverse district.

Verstuyft: Agree with both. Important to regard the value of our coaches. The earlier the athletic department forms a proposed budget the faster we can take it to our governing bodies to get approved.

Conferences: what are y’all’s thoughts about letting coaches and ADs attend?
Woods: if we think it is safe we wouldn’t deviate from letting coaches attend. We would encourage in an online setting if that is the final outcome.

Verstuyft: We all believe in the associations and their learning opportunities. If they’re following social distancing guidelines and it is safe, it would be okay. We would have to relay the protocols to our governing board to get their approval.

Any thoughts for out of town travel for non-district/tournament games?

Toscano: All criteria/conditions that must be met would have to align at where we have landed as a school community. Given the current climate we may spend more time discussing if we can have the same experience more locally. Would not spend much time previously discussing that but will be more likely to going forward.

Woods: We need to be ready to flex into more local, high quality tourneys if we feel like that is necessary. Already talk of development along that line; need to be ready if kids cannot stay in hotels in August.

Football season: what are your thoughts of live streaming of games? Pay per view experience/letting students broadcast?

Verstuyft: A lot will be contingent on where we are after June/July, but would support the ability. Depending what the landscape looks like and if we’re restricted to get together as a crowd it would be a good option. We have had a huge jump in technology in the past few months and that could be used to our advantage in the fall. Even if we do have some ability to have crowds at games, I think we should still use it.

Straight online ticketing sales and limited cash on hand?

Toscano: A good idea; we need to prepare to limit contact. We are going to have percentage of the population who will not want to gather in crowds, continue following social distancing guidelines, etc. with the current world. A good plan to consider and flesh out and be ready to use.

What can we expect for school in August? Any change to the academic calendar?

Woods: No answer right now. Leaning away from a major calendar change because it would involve significant communication with community. If the school calendar doesn’t change, it has to be ready to flex immediately, and possibly be different at numerous schools. A big challenge for athletics is to take game(s) and having to reschedule them because the school was closed, etc. Challenge is to get away from the notion that the schedule will be officially set.

Thoughts on hybrid schedules?

Verstuyft: We are meeting with area Superintendents multiple times a week and with the TEA. Connecting locally at a high level. For inner session capabilities for longer breaks. We are all looking at numerous opportunities. In the area, we walk aside each other and want to do similar things in local districts because the schedules effect each other.

Importance of returning to Athletics/Extra Curriculars?

Woods: really excited for S&C notion, it is the first opportunity for kids to be back in our building: it is our opportunity and responsibility to get that right. The goal is to return on time for the UIL and bring a sense of hope and normalcy to families. Live streaming: any way to get competition out to the community will draw people back together. It is important to reconnect with our families and get them back in our schools.

What are some major areas of concern regarding safety?

Toscano: The theme that is rising to the surface is flexibility. We need to have the ability as an org to change directions on the dime with contingency planning. According to our survey, 30% of parents would not feel comfortable sending their kids back to school if things do not change. They need to know we have a comprehensive plan to return and communicate it for numerous scenarios (face-to-face, hybrid, if someone gets tested positive, etc). The plans must be clear and concise. School calendar needs to have some form of flexibility. Not ready to jump into a massive calendar shift but also know that there needs to be time built in to flex. Our community will be more confident with a plan regardless of what the world brings us. The degree that we do that well is the degree of comfort in our community.

Outdoor graduation plans?

Verstuyft: We all want to recognize the seniors. Lots of factors: have to consider how big your class is, how your community feels about outdoors, etc. Anything done will have some risks to it. We had a 40 person task force that have been working through all of the logistics. Have a detailed plan for entrance/exit, social distancing guidelines, etc. Seats labeled off and the parents will be aligned with where their student sits on the field. Addressing an outdoor commencement that will acknowledge/recognize the students because they deserve something and have a sense of closure.