EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – El Paso High School announced it had suspended on-campus summer workouts indefinitely on Sunday afternoon, as a precautionary measure to avoid an outbreak of COVID-19 at its school.
The decision made by EPHS athletic coordinator Ray Aguilar ignited a domino effect as schools across El Paso, mainly institutions in El Paso Independent School District, elected to suspend their offseason workout programs.
Burges High School, Canutillo High School, Chapin High School, and Irvin High School all joined El Paso High in suspending summer workouts for some or all of their athletic programs, effective immediately, coaches and athletic coordinators for all of the schools confirmed to KTSM on Sunday.
Austin High School followed suit on Monday afternoon and suspended all workouts as well.
The suspensions are in effect until further notice, but the schools all said they are eying a potential return on July 13. Athletic coordinators at all six schools said that no cases of COVID-19 had infiltrated their schools; they all told KTSM that the suspensions were strictly for precautionary measures and that no athletes or coaches had tested positive for COVID-19.
El Paso High School’s Aguilar began the workout suspension trend on Sunday afternoon; El Paso ISD has confirmed to KTSM that it is, so far, leaving the decision to remain open, or suspend workouts, up to individual campuses.
El Paso ISD schools that do continue can only hold workouts for fall sports and everything must be done outdoors, according to Aguilar. Indoor workouts and weight rooms are prohibited. Winter and spring sports workouts are on hold for EPISD schools as of now.
Chapin head football coach and athletic coordinator Ryan Warner told KTSM that the Huskies’ decision was made by Chapin’s campus administration and that he fully supported the choice. Workouts at both Chapin and El Paso High will continue online. Canutillo and Irvin are also suspending all athletics and will reassess in a few weeks.
Burges football coach James Routledge told KTSM that the Mustangs football program is suspending workouts this week and had already planned on taking the week of July 6 off. At this time, Burges plans to return July 13. Other sports at Burges are still allowed to make their own determinations.
Franklin’s football program confirmed to KTSM that as of Sunday night, it will still be holding workouts. However, the Cougars’ boys basketball team announced on Sunday that it will be postponing workouts indefinitely out of an abundance of caution. That announcement was in accordance with the EPISD mandate that winter and spring sports cannot hold summer workouts and that decision came before schools around the district chose to suspend fall sports.
Aguilar cited the recent surge of cases of COVID-19, not only in El Paso, but statewide, as big factors in his decision to suspend athletics at EPHS. On Sunday, a record 284 cases of COVID-19 were announced in the city of El Paso.
“Being proactive now will not only ensure the safety of all, but also bring us a step closer to what we all desire: the beginning of the 2020 Texas High School Fall Sports season in August,” Aguilar said in a statement released to Twitter on Sunday afternoon.
Aguilar told KTSM that the current hope is to return to workouts by July 13, but nothing definitive has been decided just yet. Warner said that Chapin would reevaluate in two weeks; Canutillo head football coach Scott Brooks told KTSM the same.
Parents of El Paso High students were happy with the decision made by the school.
“They were understanding and understood the situation. They know at the end of the day that our goal is to play football in August,” Aguilar said. “Parents were very thankful and supportive of that decision. At the end of the day, we’re looking at the best interest of their kids, and trying to make that decision to protect their kids and do what’s best for them.”
EPISD has left the decision to continue or postpone workouts up to individual campuses. As of Monday, Andress High School, Bowie High School, Coronado High School, Franklin High School and Jefferson High School all have told KTSM they plan to continue workouts for fall sports.
Across El Paso, Ysleta ISD announced on Saturday that it had shut down all summer workouts at all of its campuses, after coaches at Hanks High School and Riverside High School tested positive for COVID-19 this week. YISD is looking at a potential return on July 13, but will assess the situation at that time to make the best decision.
Socorro ISD has a pre-planned district summer break June 29-July 3 that is completely unrelated to COVID-19, so all SISD athletics are on pause until July 6. On June 14, Socorro High School postponed the start of its workouts after a coach experienced COVID-19 symptoms. An update has not been provided on the Socorro coach, but the Bulldogs have not started their summer workouts; SISD athletic director JJ Calderon told KTSM that Socorro is targeting July 6 as its start date.
In San Elizario, football coach Roberto Herrera tweeted on Sunday that the Eagles would be holding online workouts on Monday, but be back in person the rest of the week.
Cathedral High School in El Paso shut down workouts on June 12, after a football player tested positive for COVID-19. So far, the Fighting Irish have not returned to workouts. A spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of El Paso told KTSM last week that Cathedral is also targeting July 6 for a potential return date.