On Sept. 24, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon said high school sports may return as soon as Oct. 7 with competitions allowed to begin Oct. 27. That announcement came following the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association releasing its plan two weeks earlier to play all sports in the spring.
Each individual school system can now choose whether to start the fall sports season in October or use the previously announced second-semester plan, which would have no sports starting before the end of January.
Here’s the latest on what the school systems are planning:
Allegany County’s Board of Education met on Sept. 28 and voted unanimously to return to play Oct. 7. A news release wrote “school board members stressed the need to give students some sense of normalcy during this unprecedented time, but reiterated that they were not placing the importance of extracurricular activities over that of academics.”
Allegany County has three high schools: Allegany, Fort Hill and Mountain Ridge.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent George Arlotto “is now reviewing the many implications of the option announced by Gov. Hogan and Dr. Salmon today as compared to the previously announced plan ... in order to determine the best course of action,” said Bob Mosier, a spokesman for the county schools on Sept. 24.
Baltimore County Superintendent Darryl Williams wrote in a release on Sept. 24 that he will consult with the county’s athletics office, athletic directors, Return to Play Committee and the county’s health department “to determine if and how adjustments to our plan can be safely made. If adjustments can be safely made, we will share those adjustments with the community.”
Williams said that “athletics play a vital role in the educational success and engagement of students.”
The Carroll County Board of Education met Sept. 30 and agreed to stick to its timeline of beginning a hybrid learning model Oct. 19, but members added that they need to continue to monitor health department metrics and the potential of losing more than 300 staff members who have said they will take federally allowed employee leave.
After hearing the pros and cons of getting athletics back onto the high school calendar, amid the COVID-19 pandemic — a discussion led by county supervisor of athletics Michael Duffy, Westminster High School athletic director Terry Molloy, and Century High School principal Brian Booz — the board agreed to hold another meeting Oct. 7 to discuss the matter further.
A release was put out on Sept. 24 saying that “at this time Frederick County Public Schools is committed to athletics conditioning and skills-based practices during the first semester and to continued collaboration with the Frederick County Health Department.”
The school system’s Return-to-Play Committee is scheduled to provide an update at an upcoming meeting of the Board of Education of Frederick County. The Board’s next regular meeting is Wednesday, Oct. 7.
The Garrett County Board of Education on Sept. 29 voted unanimously to return to sports Oct. 7, according to the Cumberland Times-News.
Garrett County has two high schools: Northern and Southern.
Harford County Public Schools won’t start competitive high school sports seasons again until February, the school system announced Thursday, but it will begin “virtual athletics” on Oct. 12.
Student-athletes can begin registering for sports Monday on HCPS.org.
Harford schools will start offering in-person conditioning, training and intramural sports on Nov. 16.
Howard County Public School System Superintendent Michael Martirano addressed the state’s announcement during a Board of Education Meeting on Sept. 24. “I was notified yesterday that this announcement was likely, but there was no confirmation until the press conference actually occurred today,” Martirano said. “This decision needs additional analysis at the local level, and my staff has been directed to begin the analysis process. I will be reporting back to the board once more guidance is provided by the state and determinations are made and we do our internal vetting.”
Howard County’s next scheduled Board of Education meeting is on Oct. 8.
The state’s largest school district wrote Sept. 24 in a release that it will continue with virtual athletics during the first semester “at this time.”
“MCPS will work closely with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services to review all aspects of these two options. At this time, MCPS will continue with its plans as outlined in our R.A.I.S.E. Reimagined Framework for virtual athletics in order to ensure the health and safety of students, staff members and stakeholders.”
In an email sent out to coaches, Washington County Public Schools announced that it will not be resuming competition in October.
“At this time, due to several factors, WCPS is not moving forward with the option to resume competitive fall sports on October 7, 2020. However, voluntary in-person conditioning and skills-based activities will continue. We encourage students to participate in these opportunities to prepare for potential competition and to realize the benefits of these team activities.”
The Salisbury Daily Times reported on Sept. 30 that Wicomico County will not begin the high school sports season on Oct. 7.
“Our top priority must be instruction and returning our students to classrooms as soon and as safely as possible,” said Dr. Donna Hanlin, Wicomico Superintendent, in an interview with the Times. “However, we are exploring other alternatives for a consistent statewide schedule for beginning interscholastic athletics as soon as it is not only safe to do so, but logistically possible.”