What should fans expect when another high school football season begins amid COVID?

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Friday, August 20, 2021
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Eyewitness Sports breaks down which Houston-area high schools are requiring masks for spectators at football games.

SPRING, Texas (KTRK) -- Once again, the high school football season in Texas arrives amid a pandemic.

Next week, University Interscholastic League (UIL) teams will begin playing regular season football games. ABC13 sports reporter Adam Winkler reached out to several local districts to learn if the face masks worn by football players on the field will be the only face coverings required at area high school football games this season.

As ABC13 has reported, several local school districts are defying Gov. Greg Abbott's orders and requiring masks on campus.

UIL published COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Guidelines just last week. In those protocols, the UIL says it will not limit capacity for spectators at games and cites the governor's executive order prohibiting school systems from requiring masks.

Spring ISD is among the local districts to enforce a universal masking requirement for all staff, students, spectators and visitors on campus. But Spring ISD tells ABC13 that fans will not be required to mask up for football games, because it's an outdoor setting. In addition to following the UIL's guidelines, Spring ISD says its teams that travel to other school districts will follow any local requirements in addition to the UIL guidelines.

Klein ISD, which does not require masks on campus, says there will be no temperature checks or capacity and/or distancing restrictions at its football games.

We also checked in with Alief ISD, where masks are "strongly recommended" for students and staff. Signs at Crump Stadium, along with the public address announcers, will convey that message as well as encourage social distancing.

In response to an inquiry from ABC13, the UIL says its guidelines from Aug. 9 remain the most up to date. However, beyond that guidance, the UIL notes specific protocol decisions are to be made at the local school district level in conjunction with their public health authorities.

When asked if there were any plans to pivot from their recently-published guidelines, an official with the UIL tells ABC13 it will work closely with state officials and the organization remains adaptable should further statewide updates become necessary.

At the private school level, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) says it will comply with all federal, state and local guidelines when establishing requirements for participants and attendees at events hosted by the organization.