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BRAD ROBICHAUX — Get back to practice, but don’t get complacent

Texas is opening up. The University Interscholastic League is the latest example.

On Friday the UIL issued guidelines that would allow Texas schools’ athletic programs to begin summer practices and strength training, provided the programs adhere to a few rules meant to help keep the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading.

It’s fantastic that athletes are going to be able to go back to their schools, interact with their fellow athletes and coaches and get some work in before the restart of competition.

“It’ll be good just for that part of it,” Nederland athletics director and head football coach Monte Barrow said. “It’ll be nice getting back and being around guys that you’re used to being around, coaches and players.”

Memorial AD and head football coach Brian Morgan said the break from training over the spring might have even been good for some of his student-athletes.

“I think some of the kids are going to come back even hungrier,” Morgan said. “We’re hard on our kids. We have our kids from January all the way through to the end of the football season. It’s a grind. You hear the same voices talking to you every day and staying on you. They got a break from us, which I think could be a positive thing on their end as far as their drive and their work and fighting through some adversity.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, hasn’t taken a break, at all.

On Tuesday, the Port Arthur Health Department released data on the status of cases in Port Arthur and the Mid-County area as of May 22. A total of 93 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the area. The numbers break down to 60 in Port Arthur, 15 in Nederland, 10 in Groves and eight in Port Neches. Four people in Port Arthur and one person in Nederland have died from COVID-19.

Yes it’s great to be able to get back to work, whether it’s in terms of employment or training for fall competition. Do not stop being vigilant, though.

Guidelines provided by the UIL are meant to stop more people from contracting COVID-19, and just because workouts and practices are resuming doesn’t mean the threat from COVID-19 has gone away.

Coaches and athletes must make sure to keep their workout areas clean and disinfected. They need to make sure to stay six feet apart, and stay 10 feet apart if they’re actively working out.

The hard part may be making sure not too many people are crowding an area. Stagger your sessions so that you can make sure everyone gets a chance to work out while also keeping the number of people working out at a minimum.

Don’t be shy about testing either. The UIL also recommends coaches screen their athletes before they come to practice. Call them over the phone and ask them how they are feeling. If you’re feeling sick, please, for everyone’s sake, DO NOT GO to the workout.

It’s a hassle, sure. You may feel fine. Most of the other people you know probably feel fine too.

Time is also running out to get back into playing shape before the fall. Do not rush or overdo it. Ease yourself back into the practice routine.

Do not also get complacent.

Stick with the UIL guidelines and continue to do what you can to fight the pandemic.

Brad Robichaux is a reporter for The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at brad.robichaux@panews.com.