BISD sets Oct. 5 return for varsity fall athletics

The Brownsville Independent School District Board of Trustees approved a plan Thursday that will allow the six high schools to start fall sports Oct. 5 at the varsity level only.

“We’re going to go ahead and begin the process of starting athletics on Oct. 5 for both our 5A and 6A districts across our fall sports, our Phase 1 sports, which are football, volleyball, cross country, tennis and golf,” BISD athletic director Gilbert Leal said.

“For Phase 1, we’re going to hold off on subvarsity … we’re looking at varsity only to try to get our seniors through their seasons and reduce the number of people we’re going to have in our facilities during this first phase,” he continued. “It’s going to allow us to use our subvarsity staffs and it gives us more bodies to reduce the coach-to-athlete ratios, and it gives us a better chance to be able to monitor and sanitize and do all those things.”

Student-athletes will have the choice between virtual learning or on-campus instruction starting Sept. 28, but it is not mandatory to be on-campus to participate in extracurricular activities.

“Regardless of the choice parents have for instruction, face-to-face or remote, all students can begin with one week of face-to-face strength and conditioning as well as an orientation of COVID-19 entry and exit protocols for the week of Sept. 28 through Oct. 2,” read a memorandum released Friday by superintendent Dr. Rene Gutierrez.

Leal said the Class 5A and 6A district executive committees for BISD’s programs will be meeting Wednesday to discuss start dates and season plans. District 32-6A superintendents have a “verbal agreement” to have all member schools begin practice Oct. 5 for fall sports.

Leal is hopeful that with the BISD school board giving a green light to start in three weeks, the programs can move forward with their “Plan A” schedules. But he acknowledged that the results of Wednesday’s DEC meetings and official decisions from other Rio Grande Valley school districts will still determine some season details.

“We know now that we have a plan that we’re going to work with, that is being supported by Dr. Gutierrez and our school board,” Leal said. “Our protocols are in place, (the school board) felt comfortable with our plans, so we basically have three weeks to be able to get all our preparations and details taken care of to get into competition in October. What we need now to start happening in the next couple of weeks to make sure, we need the school districts around the Valley to make their decisions. It’s totally up to the individual districts, so if there are some that choose not to participate, we need to have enough time to be able to plan and see what we need to do to adjust our schedules.”