Md. School Officials Call ‘Time Out’ When It Comes to Fall Sports

    Football fans are wondering whether or not high school fall sports will proceed in Maryland, since high school football has been canceled in nearby states such as Virginia and delayed until Sept. 1 in North Carolina due to the coronavirus.

    The college football season has been uprooted, too, with the Big Ten only allowing conference games for the University of Maryland.

    As of Thursday morning, Prince George’s County Public Schools had canceled its fall sports season. Officials with Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Montgomery County Public Schools, Harford County Public Schools and the Howard County public school system have not made a decision yet to cancel their fall sports season.

    A message from Patch left for Baltimore City Public Schools and Baltimore County Public Schools had not been returned as of Thursday morning.

    According to the latest Maryland Health Department order, “high school and college athletics may resume sports gatherings and events, but may not open to spectators or the general public. For contact sports such as wrestling, basketball and football, play should be modified to safely increase distance between players following CDC guidance.

    The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association noted that as of July 7, student athletes can resume activity “for the purpose of mental, physical and social-emotional well-being. All local school systems may choose to initiate summer out-of-season school-based open conditioning, exercise, weight training and non-sport specific student gatherings.”

    Schools are recommended to implement the preparation phase found in the MPSSAA Guidance in anticipation of the first available date for practices to begin, which is currently set at Aug. 12 as declared by the state superintendent of education.

    MPSSAA’s “Roadmap for Return of Interscholastic Athletics” notes that currently, all athletics and activities may be operating in the “lowest risk” mode, which means performing skill-building drills or conditioning at home alone or with family members, which includes school system-approved virtual engagement. Schools can slowly start summer out-of-season school-based open conditioning, exercise, weight training and non-sport specific student gatherings.

    Brian Bassett with Howard County public schools said no fall sports have participated in summer conditioning. He told Patch the district is awaiting additional guidance and protocols from the MPSSAA for handling positive coronavirus cases during the fall sports season before making a decision.

    “Our director of athletics is very involved in the work of the state committee and is keeping the superintendent informed of any changes to their guidance or mandates. It’s true that [as of today] local districts are able to make the call on the return to athletics and ours has not changed at this point, but that could change at any point if the state decides to alter the date of return to athletics or protocols for all districts in the state. They have not yet done so, but we are seeing neighboring states beginning to make those changes,” Bassett said.

    The coronavirus’ impact on Maryland sports doesn’t fall just upon high schools. The Big Ten Conference recently announced it was canceling games that were scheduled against non-league opponents due to ongoing coronavirus concerns.

    Many college officials have confirmed they will take a significant financial hit now that those games have been removed from their schedule, including Towson University. The Tigers’ Sept. 5 game at Maryland has been canceled along with the $325,000 payment that would’ve come with it.

    The Patriot League Council of Presidents canceled its fall season, but said that because the U.S. Military Academy and Naval Academy are “unique in their environments,” they can proceed with fall sports. However, Lafayette College in Pennsylvania notified officials with the Naval Academy Athletic Association that it will not be trekking to Annapolis for the football game originally scheduled between the two schools Sept. 12. Navy’s season opens Labor Day weekend against Notre Dame at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

    The MPSSAA will update its status July 21, July 28 and Aug. 4 regarding fall practices and any modifications that will need to be made. Fall state championships will be assessed in early October based upon schools’ ability to participate in a regular season. Winter sports’ status will be assessed the first week of October based on the most recent information regarding indoor facilities and the coronavirus.

    The association noted that the MPSSAA will consider other approaches to the fall sports season, including modifying the start of the season or shortening the season.

    To see the story by Kristin Danley-Grenier as it originally appeared on Patch.com, click here

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