McALLEN — A flurry of activity has kicked off throughout school districts across South Texas, as local health and school officials throughout the state determine when and how to safely resume on-campus athletic competition.

In the Corpus Christi and Laredo metro areas, however, local officials announced decisions to further postpone the athletic and extracurricular activities as both cities struggle to contain and manage the novel coronavirus threat level and case count in their respective areas.

Discussions between districts, school administrators and local health officials this week were rapidly sped up by a pair of announcements from the Texas Educational Agency on Tuesday and the University Interscholastic League on Wednesday, respectively, regarding wide-sweeping updates to each organization’s COVID-19 guidelines moving forward.

That spurred Corpus Christi ISD to take action Thursday, when the school district announced in an email to its athletic coordinators, coaches and student-athletes that it planned to push back the restart of its on-campus summer strength and conditioning programs three weeks until at least Monday, Aug. 3, the UIL’s first day of scheduled fall sports practices, and asked student-athletes to stay at home whenever possible and maintain social distancing protocols in the interim.

“Due to the continued increase (of) COVID-19 in our area, all CCISD SSC/SSI programs will postpone the July 13 start date,” the email to coaches, student-athletes and school administrators read. “We will continue to monitor the local and statewide environments, and will make an announcement when it is safe to resume training.”

PSJA High defensive lineman Robert Grimaldo (52) attempts to stop Corpus Christi Flour Bluff running back Noah Hinojosa (25) as he carries the ball in a season opener at PSJA Stadium on Thursday, Aug 29, 2019, in Pharr. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

According to the Corpus Christi Caller Times, CCISD Executive Athletic Director Brenda Marshall said it was a collaborative decision made between the Corpus Christi area athletic coordinators and directors, and indicated that the district’s start date remains intentionally open-ended without a specific return date set yet.

It’s also important to note that 14 different CCISD employees tested positive for COVID-19 in July.

The situation in South Texas escalated again late Friday evening, when the Laredo Department of Public Health issued an order which forbids all area schools, public or private, from returning to face-to-face instruction until after Sept. 4 with Laredo schools only being able to re-open virtually before that.

Additionally, the Laredo Department of Public Health mandate stipulates that, “All school sponsored events and activities, including but not limited to clubs, sports, fairs, exhibitions, academic and/or athletic competition, shall not take place until school systems resume on-campus instruction.”

Laredo United quarterback Wayo Huerta(10) is sacked in the end zone by Mission defenders Dante Lopez (43) Fabian Ahumada (10) and Charlz Schuktz (91) for a 2 point safety during the first half of a Class 6A Bi-District gameat Tom Landry Stadium on Saturday, Nov.16, 2019 in Mission. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor dlopez@themonitor.com

This multi-week delay to the resumption of preseason practices and athletic competition will interfere with the start of the fall sports for schools throughout Laredo, which is already starting to have a domino effect on several prominent teams throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

The Weslaco High Panthers were set to travel to Laredo Nixon for a Week 2 Class 6A high school football non-district game that’s now unlikely to happen. That also goes for the Harlingen High Cardinals who have Week 1 and Week 3 tilts scheduled against Laredo United South and Laredo United, respectively.

The pair of announcements are also likely to have profound effects on the high school volleyball early-season, non-district schedule, which is dominated by regional tournaments. 

Now, it appears as though many of the Rio Grande Valley’s top high school volleyball programs will miss out on the annual Border Olympics and United ISD Tournament scheduled for August in Laredo, while major local tournaments like McAllen ISD’s PoundFest will be forced to adjust on the fly with the sudden dropping out of several of its annual competitors.

amcculloch@themonitor.com