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Governor Abbott closes Texas schools for remainder of year

On Friday, Governor Greg Abbott outlined his plans for starting a gradual reopening of businesses in Texas, but declared it unsafe to reopen schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Shortly after his announcement, the University Interscholastic League announced that due to the Governor’s decision, spring sports and activities, previously suspended, would be canceled.

“Our staff had been working hard on plans to resume activities this spring, but without schools in session, interscholastic activities cannot continue,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said. “Our highest priority during this challenging time is ensuring the health and safety of our students and communities and making progress in the containment of COVID-19 in Texas. We are now turning our attention to the 2020-2021 school year.”

Besides cutting softball, baseball and track seasons as well as UIL academics and speech contests before district competitions, the high school campus had already advanced OAP to bi-district and two teams to state CX Debate competition. Those contests are now done, as well.

“We won district and qualified for bi-district the last day of school before spring break, and we were set to compete at state CX starting the day we came back,” OAP director and debate coach Melonie Menefee said. “We were so hopeful that somehow, someway, these contests would be able to happen. For the seniors, especially, this is just so disappointing.”

Some organizations have moved to online contests where possible, including NSDA nationals competition, scheduled for this summer in Albuquerque; the contest will now be entirely virtual, as are other competitions being offered. UIL academics are looking into ways to facilitate virtual contests, as well.

“So many organizations are working to offer ways for students to continue to interact and hoe their craft,” Menefee said. “It’s not the same, and it can’t be the same, but I am appreciative of those people working so hard to provide opportunities.”

Still up in the air are activities like prom and graduation. The governor said more information is coming about how to deal with high school graduation. Principal CoreyHickerson said in a weekend announcement that plans for graduation and other end-of-year activities would be announced as soon as they were finalized.