Edison vs Memorial

Edison’s Holden Martinson closes in on Memorial’s Josh McDill during last year’s rivalry game at LaFortune Stadium. TPS director of athletics Gil Cloud said the district’s football programs are hopeful of opening the 2020 season on time, despite a proposal to start the academic year with 100% distance learning. 

IAN MAULE/Tulsa World file

A Tulsa Public Schools proposal to start the academic year with 100% distance learning won’t affect how the district’s schools prepare for upcoming athletic seasons — but the coronavirus might.

Superintendent Deborah Gist’s plan wouldn’t rule out athletic activities. However, COVID-19 remains a threat and TPS director of athletics Gil Cloud cautioned the situation is “so fluid. It could change every day.”

Cloud said he’s hopeful of starting the 2020 football season and those for other fall sports on time.

“However, as this virus continues to affect large numbers of folks in our county, we must wait and see how the next two weeks trend,” he said.

Preseason practice continues for cross country, softball, volleyball and cheer teams. The regular seasons open for those sports Aug. 10 or the first day of school.

Football preseason drills open Aug. 10, and Cloud is hopeful the 78th Grady Skillern All-City Preview will be played as scheduled. First-round and semifinal games are set for Aug. 20 at Milton Stadium and East Side Sports Complex and the first-, third- and fifth-place games are Aug. 21 at LaFortune Stadium.

“We’re gonna go strictly on what the board of education approves and that would be based on city and county health professionals and the (Centers for Disease Control),” Cloud said. “I hate it for the student athletes (if another shutdown is required), but we’re gonna err on the side of caution.”

The 2020 state basketball tournaments for 6A-2A schools and all spring sports activities were wiped out when the coronavirus descended in March, causing schools to be shut down for the remainder of the academic year.

The board of education will vote Monday on Gist’s proposal, which would require distance learning for the first nine weeks.

Administrators would then decide whether to continue distance learning or return to in-person instruction.

Opening fall activities on time is one of three options the TPS has been working with for three months, Cloud said. The others include delaying two to four weeks or pushing the activities to the spring semester.

Cloud said the district has ample disinfectant and cleaning equipment to keep school buildings and training facilities safe for the athletes if the fall sports are allowed to continue.

“The board approved more than a quarter million dollars worth of disinfectant and electronic cleaning guns that allow us to spray an entire classroom in a matter of minutes,” he said. “We’ve been using them for three years.”

2020 All World Preseason Football Contest presented by Bill Knight Automotive

Vote here: Meet the nominees for the 2020 All World Preseason Football Contest presented by Bill Knight Automotive

Mike Brown