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COVID-19 conditions prompt HISD to scale back athletic events

The increase in COVID-19 cases in the region has prompted Houston ISD to suspend middle school athletics, along with non-district and sub-varsity competition at the high school level, according to a Monday memo sent by athletics director Andre Walker to campus athletic coordinators.

Walker did not immediately respond to a voicemail left at his office late Monday afternoon. Another HISD employee who asked to remain anonymous confirmed the validity of the memo.

Walker wrote in his memo that the district’s high schools — including Heights, Scarborough, Waltrip and Booker T. Washington high schools — will participate only in varsity-level district competitions until further notice. HISD teams will not compete in non-district events or tournaments, and all competition among sub-varsity and club teams is suspended.

In addition, middle school athletics in cross country, football, swimming and volleyball are suspended. Walker wrote in his memo that middle school basketball, soccer and track seasons will be re-evaluated at a later date.

“Due to the increase in coronavirus cases in Harris County, the Department of Athletics will scale back on athletic events,” Walker wrote. “… We will continue to monitor the Harris County and City of Houston coronavirus status information.”

According to local health authorities, there have been a total of 266,525 cases of COVID-19 in Houston and Harris County, with the disease having caused at least 2,708 deaths and 221,450 patients having recovered. The number of new reported cases rose steadily from mid-September to late December, with more than 3,000 new cases having been reported Dec. 28.

According to HISD’s COVID-19 dashboard, there were a total of 465 active cases in the school district as of Monday — 188 among students and 277 among staff. The area campuses with active cases are Heights and Scarborough high schools, Frank Black, Clifton, Hogg and Williams middle schools and Crockett, Durham, Field, Garden Oaks, Helms, Highland Heights, Love, Oak Forest, Sinclair, Smith, Travis and Wainwright elementary schools.

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