East Texas school districts to decide whether at-home students are UIL eligible

East Texas school districts to decide whether at-home students are UIL eligible

(KLTV) - Students across East Texas will soon learn whether their decision whether or not to return to campus for the new school year will have an impact on their UIL participation.

School districts are finalizing back-to-school plans under Texas Education Agency guidelines. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many districts are offering families the option for remote learning, on-campus learning, or a combination of the two.

In the case of virtual learning, the option has raised questions about a student athlete’s eligibility for extracurricular activities. University Interscholastic League (UIL) has announced it will leave eligibility requirements up to individual districts.

On their website, the UIL lists the following for their participation guidelines.

As schools prepare for a variety of learning options for the coming school year, UIL is providing the following information related to those options and UIL student eligibility.

Students participating in remote learning offered by their school district, whether synchronous or asynchronous (as defined by TEA), may participate in UIL activities if they meet all other UIL eligibility requirements. Students must be enrolled in remote learning options through the school the student will represent. Schools may develop local policies with additional requirements for participation. You can find more information related to the full-time student rule in the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules.

Schools should develop grading policies for remote learning options that outline the criteria for determining if a student is passing all courses at the end of grading and evaluation periods. Days when school is not in session should be treated as school holidays for purposes of determining academic eligibility for both remote and in-person learning. All students are academically eligible when school is not in session for a full calendar week or more. More information related to no pass-no play can be found in the TEA-UIL Side by Side Manual.

For the 2020-2021 school year, UIL eligibility requirements for the first six weeks of school have been modified to allow a student to be eligible for the first six weeks if they accumulated at least two and a half credits since the start of the 2019-2020 school year. Schools may impose additional requirements.

The superintendent of Hallsville ISD said the district will not award UIL eligibility to students who are learning from home.

“If the parents feel like they need to keep their kids home from school due to the situation, then it would just make sense not to push them back into the same building, same practice fields, same clubs and organizations where the buildings would be full during the day,” said Collum.

Both Tyler and Longview ISDs are allowing students to attend UIL events no matter how the student attends class during the school year.

Longview ISD’s statement about the UIL participation reads:

Longview ISD will allow students that are attending school remotely to participate in UIL and extracurricular activities. We do not want anyone to feel pressure to choose an on-campus or remote option because of an activity they love or the technology they may need.

Families should feel comfortable with their education options and activities should not stand in the way of that decision. Extracurriculars enhance the education experience and it is our job to figure out how to make that work for our students who love to participate in them.

With that being said, students may have to be on campus to participate in practices for their chosen activity and we are working with our coaches and organization sponsors to figure out how to best accommodate students who are learning remotely.

Whitehouse ISD is not allowing remote students to participate unless they have extenuating circumstances and fill out a waiver.

Some districts — like Lufkin ISD — have not yet made a final decision whether remote students can participate.

Copyright 2020 KLTV. All rights reserved.