Fall sports can return at all Maryland Public Schools in October

Posted at 1:45 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 17:15:47-04

FREDERICK, Md. — Gov. Larry Hogan and State Superintendent Karen Salmon announced fall sports can return at all Maryland Public Schools.

On Oct 7, all Maryland school systems can start fall practices and games can start on Oct. 27.

The announcement came after they toured the Frederick County Career and Technology Center to see how they are adapting while bringing students back in person.

"We’re really glad to be getting some kids back in the classroom for some face-to-face instruction. At the high school, we have kids from all over the county and they are learning things they really couldn’t do online with hands on real-world experience," said Hogan.

Hogan said all 24 jurisdictions now have approved plans from the state for returning some groups of students in-person this fall.

That, coupled with the downward trend in cases and record low positivity rate, Hogan and Salmon took the next step forward for student athletes.

"The steps taken today are directly related to the needs of our students to be active and engaged for their physical, social and emotional well being," said Salmon.

Local school systems have the choice to start fall sports or wait until the second semester but Salmon and hogan encourage sports opportunities when safe to do so.

"The mentorship, comradery and daily structure with these experiences and what they provide not only supports our students academic success, but also has a generational history of reaching many at risk youths, some of them struggling in their remote learning environment," said Salmon. "If we wait to do any kind of conditioning or involvement in sports until say February, those students would have been out of conditioning and practice for almost a full year and that’s very concerning."

Salmon said the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association has laid out guidelines for return to play that must be followed. It includes social distancing at practices, limiting game attendance, wearing face coverings and no sharing water bottles or carpooling. Locker room use is not recommended.

"We’re not going to do anything that endangers our kids but we think it’s really important to try to make efforts to get more of them back into face-to-face instruction and to give them the opportunity to have some of the sports activity that they also need," said Hogan.

Salmon said all school systems should as soon as possible provide conditioning and training opportunities to students as well.

To date, 11 local school systems—Allegany, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, St. Mary’s, Washington, and Worcester—have announced plans to bring students back onto school campuses for in-person athletic opportunities this fall.

October 7 Option For Fall Sports.

  • All school systems shall, as soon as possible, provide conditioning and training opportunities utilizing the current available options provided by the MPSSAA.
  • On October 7, all local school systems may choose to begin formal fall sport season practices in preparation for a competition season which will begin on October 27. All practices and preparation must be in accordance with Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) required practice regulations, and all face covering and public health protocols established by the state and local health departments.
  • The state is expanding the seasonal competition timeframes as previously announced for all winter and spring sports within this plan.
  • The October 7 option provides for seven weeks of competition for fall sports—including cross country, field hockey, football, golf, soccer, and volleyball:
    • First available practice date: October 7, 2020
    • First available competition date: October 27, 2020 (Golf may resume competition on October 7, 2020.)
    • Last play date: December 12, 2020
    • Culminating event/tournament: December 14-19, 2020
  • With the October 7 option, winter sports can begin practice on December 14, and spring sports can begin practice on January 4. Additional details will be provided by MPSSAA.
  • Local school systems that choose not to exercise the October 7 option for fall sports may utilize the Second Semester Plan option as previously announced.