RETURN TO PLAY
Yesterday afternoon the state superintendent of schools, Dr. Karen Salmon, announced a new option that would allow fall sports to competitively resume by October 7, 2020. Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) is sharing more information with our school families as there are many considerations that must be made in light of this announcement.
WCPS recognizes the value of competitive sports in supporting students’ physical and social-emotional well-being and instilling positive character. We are committed to running a safe sports program that is in the best interest of our student athletes and our learning community.
Each school system in the state of Maryland may choose how they will run their sports program based on two possible timelines:
Beginning athletic competition on February 1, 2021, and playing abbreviated seasons for the remainder of the school year
Winter sports – beginning February 1, 2021
Fall sports – beginning March 15, 2021
Spring sports – beginning April 26, 2021
Beginning athletic competition on October 7, 2020, and playing abbreviated seasons for the remainder of the school year
Fall sports – beginning October 7, 2020
Winter sports – beginning December 14, 2020
Spring sports – beginning March 15, 2021
WCPS must consider several uncertain factors in reaching a decision, including but not limited to:
Because students are not in session for the full school day, those who are not attending in-person classes may not have transportation to participate in afternoon practices and events.
Understanding other school systems will have to make the same decision to start now or begin in February, many teams may find themselves limited to a game schedule of local teams or teams that are a considerable distance from their home school. Clearly, we want to make a decision that provides our students the safest and best experience.
As we lose daylight and weather changes, sports teams may be impacted by limited indoor facilities and access to lighted fields.
Some sports do not allow for athletes to safely distance themselves from one another.
Availability of officials
WCPS must assess the availability of officials and referees, who may be affected by several challenges, including the adjusted timeline of sports seasons and the prevalence of the virus in other communities.
Community health metrics and potential spread of the virus
Regardless of when sports seasons begin, athletic competition creates opportunities for the virus to spread from student athletes to students in schools and to students from other schools. Local data regarding Washington County COVID-19 cases will be reviewed throughout the athletic seasons. Likewise, health metrics from other communities will be reviewed in advance of our athletes traveling to other schools outside of Washington County.
Feedback from our community is also considered among these factors. If you have thoughts or questions regarding the proposed plans, please email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org
WCPS is seeking further clarification from the State regarding the above details and the return to athletic competition. We are encouraged to see student athletes participating in voluntary in-person conditioning and skills-based engagement activities, which began on Monday, September 21. We appreciate the athletes, coaches, and families who are supporting these activities by following our established health and safety protocols. The health and safety of all WCPS students and staff remains our top priority.