Local private schools were impacted by announcements of cancellations related to the coronavirus on Friday.
The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) announced in a release the cancellation of all interscholastic competition until April 13, beginning Saturday. Schools could complete scheduled competition Friday. The Woodlands Christian Academy, Legacy Prep, Covenant Christian, Calvary Baptist and Lifestyle Christian are all TAPPS members within Montgomery County.
Shortly after TWCA extended next week’s spring break and decided it would not return until at least March 30, athletic director Randy Hollas reached out to TAPPS executive director Bryan Bunselmeyer. Hollas felt the announcement of cancellations was inevitable, and said the steps taken by the association were preferable to the one big step most fear.
“I think everyone’s concern is that they’d just cancel sports for the year,” Hollas said in a phone interview Thursday. “We’re hopeful that, moving it back, things will calm down.”
The Southwest Preparatory Conference (SPC), in which The John Cooper School is a member, stated in a release that all conference games between March 25 and April 13 will be canceled. The beginning date was chosen because it is when most member schools return from spring break, per the release.
Like Hollas, John Cooper athletic director John Hoye felt the cancellations coming.
“I really expected it because we saw what the colleges have done with their championships for basketball and the professional leagues,” Hoye said in a phone interview Thursday. “Keeping in mind the goal is to keep this virus contained, it just makes perfect sense. I was kind of anticipating it.”
Cooper, which is currently on spring break and plans to remain out of session until March 23, had baseball, softball and track and field teams competing in Florida during the break. The baseball and track teams are supposed to return this weekend.
“You’re kind of at the mercy of some other factors when they are that far away,” Hoye said. “You just try to stay abreast on everything — what’s going on there, what’s going on here, what are the airlines doing, how are the different venues reacting? You’re trying to take everything into consideration. Then you’re just trying to a lot of planning for different scenarios.”
In a letter to member schools, SPC Commissioner Bob Windham and Board Chair Jon Kellam said the conference will explore different scenarios regarding spring tournaments between the conference’s north and south zones.
“With the fluid and uncertain situations we face, we can assure everyone we will strive for a fair and equitable way to seed and conduct our spring tournaments if, in future weeks, it looks feasible and safe to conduct our Spring SPC tournaments this school year,” the release stated.
Hollas noted that TAPPS could also have some flexibility when it comes to fitting in competition.
“There are a lot of options out there,” he said. “TAPPS doesn’t go into June with baseball and softball like the (University Interscholastic League) does, so it’s possible they could adjust that. In track and field, we normally have district, regional and state. Maybe they try to combine it more. There’s a lot of options to look at.”
TAPPS set out guidelines outlining plans for practice, athletic contests and fine arts competitions.
All athletic competition is canceled from March 14 to April 12. Practices, “will be left to local discretion,” for schools that are open. At closed schools, practice is not permitted.
The SPC did not specifically mention practice guidelines in its release, but Hoye said that John Cooper will not have practices for at least one more week while the school is not in session.
Hollas says if school is in session before April 12, TWCA will hold practices.
“The big concern that most people have is getting large groups of people together,” he said. “In a school like ours, we have almost 700 kids or 750 kids (from pre-K to 12) in one place at one time. To have a baseball team of 18 kids (together) is not as big as a school-based decision. So, for us, if school says we can go, we’re practicing.”
The TAPPS athletic guidelines apply to baseball, softball, track and field, tennis and golf.
Like many others in high schools and colleges across the country, shortly after the initial shock of cancellations, Hollas’ thoughts went to the Class of 2020. His hope, and the hope of many, is that the cancellations will allow some sort of spring season to be played.
“Anyone involved in high school sports, you just don’t want to take away someone’s senior year like that,” Hollas said. “You want them to have the opportunity to play and finish up the right way. We’re still hopeful that they’re going to be able to get state playoffs and probably an abbreviated district schedule.”
Fine arts competitions, which include music, academics, speech and debate, art and robotics, will continue in TAPPS but will be, “amended to allow for the competition to move forward without the exposure of large crowds or numbers of participants.”
Both organizations said there will be more updates as information is available.