Last week, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association granted athletes from across the state to begin conditioning for fall sports starting Wednesday, although each county can make its own determination on when and how to open.
Maryland public schools were closed for the last three months of the 2019-2020 school year and spring sports were nixed even before they got started due to the coronavirus pandemic. But this fall, schools are scheduled to reopen on time and fall sports practices have been cleared to begin on August 12. Several Southern Maryland Athletic Conference schools are prepared to start today, but others are going to wait.
“The Maryland State Board of Education supported the request for waiver of interscholastic athletic regulations,” according to an MPSSAA news release on June 23. “The waiver recommendations apply to interscholastic athletics from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. These regulations, at the request of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association and local Superintendent of Schools, will give the local schools system the flexibility to navigate county/city COVID-19 restrictions and administer interscholastic athletic opportunities based on local conditions.”
Huntingtown High School athletic director Vashawne Gross noted that returning Hurricanes athletes can take to the field today and other workouts will be held inside. Gross noted the school has implemented a number of additional health-related protocol designed to keep athletes safe as schools transition back from numerous COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’re going to do everything that we can to make everything safe for our student-athletes when they return for summer workouts,” Gross said. “Just the other day I think I bought 40 new towels so we can keep all the equipment clean, especially in the weight room. We can even move some equipment outside so that the students are not so confined. The students and their parents already know these workouts are clearly voluntary.”
Lackey High School athletic director John Lush noted that the Charles County athletic directors met on Thursday to iron out a plan to resume summer workouts, but the meeting did not yield a specific date.
“Right now we’re still in a holding pattern,” Lush said. “We really didn’t come up with a definite date to start back. I think we’re going to be watching the numbers and then make a decision moving forward. Once we get going, we’ll have a good plan moving forward on how to maintain social distancing on our fields and in the weight room.”
St. Charles High School athletics posted on its Twitter page, @SchsSathletics, on Saturday, that “The status of summer conditioning is in the works and information will be communicated soon. Fall sports season is still unknown at this time.”
Not every county is prepared to re-open immediately. Anne Arundel County public schools announced that its initial summer protocol still stands and will actually extend for another three weeks before being re-evaluated. The AACPS has made several announcements on its website.
“In order to maintain safety across all its athletic programs and focus our energy on the opening of the 2020-21 school year, AACPS will continue with the attached summer plan for all our coaches,” according to the website, aacps.org. “This guidance allows for virtual interactions through the Google platform, but prohibits in-person and sports-specific interactions at this time. AACPS athletics will continue to re-evaluate this summer plan. We will an update to all athletic departments and on our website at two checkpoints — first on Monday, July 6 and again on Monday, July 20.”
Attempts to obtain information from St. Mary’s County public schools were unsuccessful by press time.
Attempts to obtain information from St. Mary’s County public schools were unsuccessful by press time on Monday morning.
Since then, Southern Maryland Newspapers has learned through a news release that the county schools have approved a return to outdoor only summer training and conditioning beginning on July 13 with the following guiding principles driving its operations: Ensuring the gradual, safe return of student-athletes to in-person participation in interscholastic athletic activities, maximizing participation opportunities, including the implementation and transition to new phases and providing ongoing communication regarding the current operations of the SMCPS Athletics program, in alignment with state and local guidelines, considerations, and recommendations.