The UIL took a small but significant step toward starting football season on time when the organization announced Tuesday that it will begin allowing schools to conduct limited summer strength and conditioning programs starting June 8.

The UIL’s message comes a day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced sports programs could resume practice May 31 while following existing social distancing guidelines.

“UIL is aware of Gov. Abbott’s announcement yesterday,” UIL athletic director Dr. Susan Elza said in an email to coaches and athletic directors. “We are currently, and have been, working with the appropriate state officials to allow schools to begin limited summer strength and conditioning on June 8. As soon as we have the details of that plan, we will release them to schools to allow time to plan and prepare for bringing students back to campus for these purposes. We hope to have those details released to you this week.”

According to Bryan ISD athletic director Janice Williamson, Gov. Abbott’s announcement hasn’t affected a proposed timeline for resuming in-person workouts. The UIL previously had been working with the Texas Education Agency on a plan to allow schools to begin those outdoors on June 8. She said the announcement raised questions about how to conduct indoor workouts.

“When the governor announced what he did, it took [the UIL and TEA] by surprise,” Williamson said. “To follow TEA guidelines, you’re not allowed to do anything other than outside, so they’re trying to get clarification on that. We’re on hold until we find out a little more on the plan.”

Williamson said the announcement was welcome news and an encouraging, if limited, sign for the prospect of school returning to normal in the fall.

“Nobody wants to be back more than our coaches and our kids,” Williamson said. “We want to make sure when we come back we don’t have to close again because something went haywire. We’re going to have to get together and make sure when we roll it out, we do it correctly.”

TAPPS also announced plans to begin 11-man football summer workouts June 1 in a webinar Tuesday morning. No more than four participants per coach will be allowed, and no equipment can be used while participants follow social distancing guidelines.

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