There’s a phrase that Kevin Kendro, the supervisor of athletics for Frederick County Public Schools, has been turning to a lot since sometime in March, when schools were first shut down and prep sports canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We used this term ‘Reimagining the athletic experience’ with our students-athletes,” Kendro said over the phone Wednesday night as he drove home from work after yet another blow was dealt to the local sports scene courtesy of COVID-19. “That’s pretty much what we’re doing right now, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
He trotted out the expression Wednesday after the Frederick County board of education voted earlier in the evening to postpone the fall sports season until after the first semester, which ends in January 2021.
The decision was made in conjunction with the school board’s unanimous vote to begin the 2020-21 school year in a full virtual mode except for targeted groups of students who would be brought into schools occasionally for face-to-face instruction.
It also pushes the fall sports season — which consists of football, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross-country, golf, volleyball and field hockey — into a no-man’s land of sorts. Athletes in those sports have no way of knowing when or if they’ll get to pick up, or in some cases begin, their high school careers.
The voluntary summer conditioning and re-acclimatization activities, which began on July 20 at Frederick County high schools after a delay, have also been halted, according to Kendro.
In an update he released on Twitter after the board’s announcement, Kendro said he is saddened by the suspension of play, but he is behind the choice.
“I’m supportive of the decision,” Kendro said on the phone. “We’re erring on the side of safety, being in a 100 percent virtual learning environment, and I think it’s the best for our students, staff and all athletic stakeholders to postpone at this time, but then potentially look at options as we get into the new year.”
Kendro said his Return to Play committee, which was set up in June to determine the guidelines and safety protocols for bringing kids back to schools for summer workouts, will continue meeting and exploring options during the fall hiatus.
While only the fall season was considered at Wednesday’s board vote, a postponement of extracurricular activities until January also affects the winter sports season. Athletic contests for that public school season generally begin in early December.
Should in-person schooling return after the first semester, Kendro wouldn’t say if a truncated winter season would be up for consideration, or if fall sports could be rescheduled in some fashion during the spring.
“At this time, honestly, we really don’t know,” he said. “That’ll be some of the things that we’ll have to figure out moving forward. Today’s board meeting just focused on the fall sports, but those are decisions that will obviously have to be made as well.”
Wednesday’s decision came after other Maryland counties, including Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore, canceled or postponed fall sports. Montgomery County also canceled winter sports.