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Burnet High School band

The Burnet High School band is on the beat when it comes to social distancing and wearing face coverings in the stands at games, but the University Interscholastic League told Burnet school district officials that the fans could do better. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

Typically, coaches make adjustments after the first football game. However, Burnet school district officials are asking fans to do so in regard to social distancing and face coverings.

The University Interscholastic League, which governs Texas public school activities and sports, raised concerns with the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District about Bulldog fans not following COVID-19 protocols at Burnet’s season-opening 46-6 win against Jarrell on Aug. 28. 

On Aug. 31, BCISD Superintendent received a call from the UIL deputy director about the issue.

Prior to the 2020-21 school year, the UIL outlined rules and protocols for participants and spectators at athletic competitions. These included limiting attendance to 50 percent of a venue’s capacity, maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet between groups not from the same household, and wearing face coverings. 

The UIL viewed photos and videos of games posted on social media and noted many people at contests statewide not following UIL and Texas Education Agency guidelines. 

The league sent emails to superintendents across the state to remind them of the guidelines. Part of the letter read: “Schools not following these guidelines are subject to sanctions, including suspension of contests or discontinuation of public access to games by the local UIL District Executive Committees and/or UIL State Executive Committee.”

In the phone conversation with McBurnett, the UIL deputy director praised the football players and coaches, the band, cheerleaders, and the Highlandettes for their adherence to COVID-19 protocols when not on the field or performing. In a letter to the community after the phone call, McBurnett stated “that the UIL expects our fans to do a better job with these same requirements in the future.”

To address some of the UIL’s concerns, BCISD officials are placing green stripes on alternating rows of bleachers and selected seats at Bulldog Field to mark unavailable seating areas. 

District officials are also reminding spectators that face coverings are required to be worn when entering the stadium or any athletic venue and must be worn while seated. 

The UIL also updated its 2020-21 COVID-19 risk mitigation guidelines on Sept. 1. 

The guidelines apply to all UIL activities, including non-varsity and middle school competitions. 

The UIL has allowed 1A through 4A schools to begin athletic and band seasons as previously scheduled but delayed 5A and 6A seasons until September. Marble Falls High School, which is a 5A school, will play its first varsity football game on Friday, Sept. 25. 

“We want to keep our fans and our athletes safe, and we want to have full seasons of athletic and academic competitions,” McBurnett stated in his letter to the community. “Join us by wearing a facial covering, and staying apart, when we come together to cheer on the Bulldogs.”