“Welcome to the end of summer.
What’s that you say? Summer keeps on keeping on until Sept. 22.
The calendar turns Wednesday from July to August.
August is now the new September.”
— Reporter-News editorial, Aug. 1, 2018
That’s from two years ago. Who could’ve guessed then what the start of August 2020 would look like?
It looks more like August back in the day.
This week, the city would be emerging from the main month of summer — July, when many folks vacation, run their air conditioners on high and ponder the fate of the Texas Rangers. When we spend afternoons at the pool or inside chilled movie theaters, watching the latest blockbuster.
This week, our attention would begin turning back to school as extracurricular activities began.
Football workouts. Volleyball workouts. Long-distance runners hitting the trail or the pavement.
High school bands would be assembling on baked asphalt parking lots (bring hats, sunblock and water bottle — and your music!) to begin work on marching routines.
In just a few weeks, school would follow.
Last call for barbecues and The Cove, and those lazy-hazy-crazy days.
Memo to mom and dad: Tax-free shopping is coming up.
Alas, that would be in an alternate universe this year.
Monday, for many, will not be the start of the “new year,” as it is determined by the school calendar.
Strike the lazy and hazy, and we’re left with just crazy due to COVID-19.
As Taylor County and the rest of Texas and the rest of the nation views statistics we had hoped would melt in the summer heat, many activities have been pushed back. Some waaaaay back, to the spring term.
When everything will be normal again, right?
Football workouts for Abilene’s three public high schools won’t start until Sept. 7. The bigger schools traditionally were a week behind the smaller ones hitting the practice field. Smaller schools can begin fall sports workouts Monday. That’s Class 4A and below.
They can play football the final weekend of August.
Fans of the Mustangs, Indians, Mavericks, Lions and Gorillas can rejoice.
How workouts will happen will be different but at least your favorite high school team will be back. Hopefully without being grounded again.
Last week, we learned the Southland Conference will play only league games this year. That means Abilene Christian University’s anticipated and revenue-rich opening football game at Kyle Field against Texas A&M has been canceled. The Wildcats open the season Sept. 12 at home vs. Central Arkansas.
For Wildcats fans and local football-starved fans, that is good news. The American Southwest Conference recently delayed four fall sports until the spring.
Football is not central to how COVID-19 is affecting our lives, but we all know how important football is in Texas, from the high school level to watching the Cowboys and Texans.
It’s hard to imagine no football. But we’re darned close.
It’s also hard to imagine students in masks. It’s hard to imagine band practice for all divisions being delayed until Sept. 7. That may mean silence at halftime of the first games, or maybe all season.
One thing that remains is tax-free weekend. That’s this coming weekend, and by now you know the drill: tax-free savings on many items priced under $100. But stores will have mask, capacity and foot-traffic rules in place. No free-for-all over 99-cent notebooks allowed.
It’s the reality we live with now. We can do some things as before. We can’t do some things, period. And we can do some things but not like before.
When those intersect, we have problems.
Should students who stay home for school be allowed to go to school for extracurricular events? Both the Abilene ISD and Wylie ISD are good with that, but some districts in Texas are not.
How much fun is school without the fun stuff?
Again, we appreciate the educators who have worked through the summer months to come up with a plan for the unknown.
Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott and State Attorney General Ken Paxton said cities cannot force school districts to delay in-person education, as has been ordered in beleaguered Houston, saying by law school decisions rest with districts and the Texas Education Agency. Other states are wrestling with the same issue.
No, folks, it’s not August as we’ve come to know it.
Gone are those lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer.