Mineral Wells High School athletes have been ordered to stay home and not to expect to return to practice until at least March 29 due to concerns of the novel coronavirus.

The University Interscholastic League has suspended all sports competitions until March 30 and had left it up to individual schools to decide when and if sports teams will hold practice.

“As of right now, the UIL has set March 29 as the date teams can begin practicing again, but people need to be aware that may change depending on the UIL and whether or not school is in session,” Coach Gerald Perry said.

Monday morning, the situation remained fluid as Perry had a practice target date of March 23 before the UIL changed course, saying schools could lay out their practice plans themselves before applying the new date of March 29 and no practices.

At 2 p.m. Monday, the plans Perry and his staff were working on got thrown out the window as the UIL announced no practices outside the school day until the 29th, which is one day before sports competition is scheduled to begin again.

Perry and school administrators met online Monday to discuss the timelines and plans coaches have in place to move forward once the UIL has given the all-clear.

“We are operating on the information the UIL gives us,” Perry said. “That may mean starting sports competition again March 30, and it may mean we are out longer if UIL extends the period.”

Meanwhile, Perry and his coaching staff had begun developing a two-pronged plan to cover practices if competition resumes without school, or how practices will continue if school starts up again.

“The one thing I want to emphasis to our parents and their athletes is that attendance is not mandatory for practice while school is not in session,” Perry said. “The safety of our students is our utmost concern, and we will respect the decision of parents regarding their athletes coming to practice.”

If school resumes, the typical practice situations and terms for taking part are expected to be much the same, although individual coaches may have some changes in place.

“Our coaches have been submitting their plans for practices in both situations, “ Perry said. “We currently have those under review for any possible refinements that may be needed.”

The most significant changes athletes will probably notice will be increased diligence by their coaches concerning hygiene, disinfecting, and the new catchphrase “social distancing.”

“Social distancing will be the biggest thing for athletes because it’s kind of hard not to make contact with each other when you are on a team in close quarters,” Perry said. “We will focus on not touching each other and practicing good habits if we cough or sneeze.”

Mineral Wells athletes are already exposed to proper cleaning and sanitation habits because of the threat of staph infections in locker and training rooms. These are areas that are disinfected daily and are nothing new to the coaching staff.

The biggest problem for athletes will be staying in shape during the layoff, and coaches have been sending out do-it-yourself workouts for students to perform.

“If the UIL sticks with the current dates, we will potentially be dealing with sore arms, tight muscles, and even injuries because we haven’t had the ability to practice,” Perry said. “That’s why it is essential for our athletes to workout at home on their own.”

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