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UIL moves forward with school safety plan for games and competitions

ROUND ROCK (Nexstar) — Proposed safety and security changes could come to University Interscholastic League events after a proposed rule would require schools to have an emergency action plan in place.

Many schools have already developed a standard operating procedure, but in the wake of the deadly high school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, schools are upgrading their safety protocols.

"We are responsible for the fans, we are responsible for the students who are there," Longview High School Principal James Brewer said. "If something does happen, all the officials, all the people work together know exactly what we're supposed to do."

As the discussion began in the athletic committee meeting, Barber Hill ISD Superintendent Greg Poole said safety was a top priority.

"There's nothing as important as what we're dealing with right now involving students," Poole stated.

"We are as a group, totally sensitive to whatever we can do to ensure safety in the best way we can," Poole explained.

While most districts have some semblance of a safety plan already being used, this formality could also include the involvement of law enforcement and other emergency personnel at the local and state level.

"Schools are now, it appears to be, a target, where schools used to be a place where everybody felt like they were safe," Idalou ISD Superintendent Jim Waller said.

Coming up with multiple backup plans is crucial, Waller said, in case resources are diverted from the school if an emergency happens elsewhere.

"We have one ambulance in our town, that ambulance is at the football game," Waller said. "Whenever that ambulance has to go on a run, we have to depend on a... surrounding town."

Some districts have an entire police force, while others, like Idalou are only made up of a few individuals. Waller said he is lucky to have a police chief, and most safety operations are coordinated with city officials.

"If you have something in place as a school district, then you're showing the people in your community that you've been proactive," Brewer emphasized.

Schools could face disciplinary action if the rules are approved by the UIL legislative council.
The emergency action plan item was passed out of the athletics panel and could be voted on by the legislative council in October. They would not take effect until the 2019-2020 school year.

The committee also moved forward with a plan that would require schools to report catastrophic injuries to a governing body. It would also update the submission process that handles those reports. Many schools already self-report, but the change, if approved in October, would penalize schools and districts that fail to notify the league. That suggestion would also take effect in August 2019.

The UIL also addressed a plan that would ban train horns from football games. While some fans believe the booming noisemakers add to the fan experience, others argue they pose a danger to the long-term hearing of fans and players. People have also said the sound is bothersome and takes away from the enjoyment of the sporting event.

The proposal to remove train horns from football games was sent to the UIL medical advisory committee to discuss in its September meeting.


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