Most sports can resume interscholastic competitions by Oct. 27th; Golf approved to start on the 7th

by Gary Adornato

During a press conference with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, in Frederick County on Thursday morning, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon, announced that Fall sports in state public schools can can commence on Oct. 7th.

“The Maryland Department of Education and the Maryland Public Schools Secondary Athletic Association (MPSSAA) have heard loudly and clearly from members of the school communities, from across the state, that there is a desire for more options as it relates to Fall sports,” said Salmon. “After recent discussions with the State Board of Education, the 24 local school superintendents, the Executive Director of the MPSSAA, stake holders and parents, I am taking the following steps to permit for more opportunities for student engagement in interscholastic activities.

“Today I am announcing all school systems shall, as soon as possible, provide conditioning and training opportunities, using the current available options provided by the MPSSAA. On Oct. 7, 2020, all local school systems may begin formal Fall sports session practices in preparation for a competition season which will begin on Oct. 27th. Golf competitions may begin immediately on Oct. 7th.”

The statement was not a mandate and does not guarantee that all 24 school districts will be in a position to begin Fall sports by Oct. 7, but they do now have that option. Previously, the MPSSAA announced that Fall Sports were scheduled to resume on Feb. 1, 2021. School systems that do not opt to begin by Oct. 7, still have the option of using the MPSSAA’s second semester plan and resuming on Feb. 1. Salmon also announced that time frames for each season will be extended.

Following the press conference, the MPSAA announcing the following timeline for the return of Fall Sports, as well as start dates for Winter and Spring sports:

October 7 Option For Fall Sports

  • All school systems shall, as soon as possible, provide conditioning and training opportunities utilizing the current available options provided by the MPSSAA.
  • On October 7, 2020, all local school systems may choose to begin formal fall sport season practices in preparation for a competition season which will begin on October 27. All practices and preparation must be in accordance with Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) required practice regulations, and all face covering and public health protocols established by the state and local health departments.
  • The state is expanding the seasonal competition timeframes as previously announced for all winter and spring sports within this plan.
  • The October 7 option provides for seven weeks of competition for fall sports—including cross country, field hockey, football, golf, soccer, and volleyball:
    • First available practice date: October 7, 2020
    • First available competition date: October 27, 2020 (Golf may resume competition on October 7, 2020.)
    • Last play date: December 12, 2020
    • Culminating event/tournament: December 14-19, 2020
  • With the October 7 option, winter sports can begin practice on December 14, and spring sports can begin practice on March 15.
  • Local school systems that choose not to exercise the October 7 option for fall sports may utilize the Second Semester Plan option as previously announced.

It is unclear how post-season events and championships would be impacted if some school systems begin playing in October, while others opt to wait until February, but those issues will most likely be sorted out once it is clear what school systems will play and when.

“Getting our kids back on the playing field and allowing youth sports to resume this fall is critical for the social and mental well-being of our students,” said Governor Hogan, prior to introducing Salmon for her announcement. “Now that all 24 jurisdictions have submitted plans to resume in-person instruction, allowing fall sports to begin next month marks another important step on our road to recovery.

“We have had our record lows every single day. We’ve been going down for months. We are now at 2.6% positivity. We’ve dropped to our lowest lows among young people. All 24 of our public school jurisdictions have now made the decision and submitted plans, which were approved yesterday by the Maryland Department of Education, to at least begin bringing some students back safely into schools.”

The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM), the state’s two largest private school athletic associations continue to consider their options for a return to fall sports. Both conferences have stressed repeatedly that they have not cancelled any of their sports seasons, including the fall, just postponed them at this point.

“The MIAA and IAAM are continuing discussions regarding return to play options for fall sports at our member schools,” said MIAA Executive Director Lee Dove, in response to the state’s announcement on Thursday.