EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – As El Paso saw its largest one day rise in COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with a record 523 cases, Sun City high school sports are permitted to continue, city and county officials said.
In a press conference, city/county health authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza said that the city does not have the jurisdiction to suspend or shut down high school athletics. Since Texas governor Greg Abbott has approved youth sports, the city cannot supersede that ruling; they can only provide guidance, which they have continued to do throughout the pandemic.
Instead, Ocaranza said, any decision regarding the cancellation, suspension or shutdown of athletics at the high school level must come from each individual school district.
“We cannot control, but we provide guidance and recommendations, and as the conditions become less favorable, that might be one of the options (suspending athletics) that could be suggested along with some other recommendations that have been brought up to school officials,” Ocaranza said. “Ultimately, it’s the decision of the superintendent and the school board to make those definite decisions.”
KTSM reached out to the three main school districts in El Paso to see if they would be continuing athletics. Both Socorro ISD and Ysleta ISD are moving forward with fall sports right now.
In a statement to KTSM, YISD officials said, “Ysleta ISD continues to make decisions based on data. While we have not delayed or canceled our athletic program as a district, we are monitoring each of our schools closely. Because our student-athletes and coaching staff continue to follow local, state and CDC recommendations (undergoing temperature checks, maximizing social distancing, and wearing face masks when appropriate during practices and games) we feel the measures put in place to protect our students and coaches are keeping them safe in their respective sport.”
El Paso ISD had not yet responded to a request for comment as of Thursday evening, but did say on Wednesday in its announcement of a request for a state waiver to continue remote learning that, “UIL, Fine Arts and athletic activities will continue as scheduled with strict screening protocols.”
Canutillo ISD released a similar statement on Wednesday regarding athletics; the Eagles’ Oct. 9 football game against El Dorado was canceled on Wednesday night due to a COVID-19 case at Canutillo.
The high school football season is just one week old in El Paso, but already 9 games have been canceled or postponed. Multiple volleyball games have been suspended as well due to the virus.