The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association postponed the 2020 fall and winter high school seasons during the first semester on Monday, but it is working on a plan to have all sports compete during the second semester.
Some Maryland Counties, including Frederick, had already postponed or canceled fall sports because of the coronavirus pandemic. And with several counties, including Frederick, opting for virtual learning because of the health crisis, the MPSSAA decided to postpone sports on a state-wide level.
But the possibility of having fall and winter sports as well as spring sports during the second semester of the 2020-21 school year was welcomed news in Frederick County, where fall sports had been postponed until after the first semester during a Frederick County board of education meeting on Wednesday.
“I think it’s obviously good for our students and coaches and community that there potentially will be fall and winter sports along with our spring sports during the second semester,” Frederick County Public Schools supervisor of athletics Kevin Kendro said.
Kendro has headed a return to play committee, which was formed to help Frederick County athletics resume following a pandemic-related shutdown that canceled the spring season. Oakdale football coach Kurt Stein, who is on that committee, thought the MPSSAA’s announcement about having all sports played in the second semester was a positive.
“We had always hoped that the chance of playing all three sports in the spring was our best chance for the kids to get to play,” Stein said. “And I do think a statewide approach has the best chance of being successful.
“So for the MPSSAA to come out and say that today and trying to get all on the same page statewide, I think it increases our chances of getting that done and having some football games in the spring,” he said. “So I think it’s a good thing.”
In a release, the MPSSAA said its decision to postpone fall and winter sports for the first semester came after it consulted with the Maryland Department of Health and the Public School Superintendent Association of Maryland.
“This decision comes in light of the recent announcements of local school systems to begin education virtually and provides each school system with options for the gradual increase of student engagement for the physical and social-emotional health of students,” the MPSSAA said.
But the release also indicated future plans for fall and winter teams.
“The MPSSAA, the MDH, and the PSSAM will continue to collaborate on finalizing a hybrid two-semester plan focused on student engagement options in the first semester and modified competition seasons for all sports during the second semester,” the release said. “Details of the hybrid two-semester plan will be available in the coming weeks prior to the start of the 2020-2021 academic year.”
Before fall sports were postponed in Frederick County, the county’s fall teams were holding voluntary workouts, which began on July 20. The MPSSAA’s release indicates school districts might have the option to do such activities before the second semester.
“Local school systems will be able to use MPSSAA waiver regulations as approved by the Maryland State Board of Education on June 23, 2020 for student engagement during the first semester,” the release said.
“That does give local school systems the flexibility of requesting waivers from the MPSSAA, where they could engage in out-of-season practices and things of that nature during semester one,” Kendro said.
Maryland wouldn’t be the only state that plans to have fall teams compete during the second semester in early 2021. For instance, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia and Washington have moved high school football until next year, according to an article on highschoolfootballamerica.com.