Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced that school districts could begin allowing high school sports practices on Oct. 7, but Montgomery County Public Schools officials said the district will not participate “to ensure the health and safety of students.”
During a visit to schools in Frederick, Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced that all high school sports can resume in-person practices on Oct. 7. Golf can begin tournaments the same day, while other athletic competitions must wait until Oct. 27.
In a press release, state officials said that all school systems in the state “shall, as soon as possible, provide conditioning and training opportunities” for student athletes.
They reiterated that, like decisions about whether to reopen school buildings for face-to-face classes, each school district has the choice to not allow athletics to resume.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, MCPS wrote that it will “work closely with the Montgomery County Department of Health” to review the new guidelines, but “at this time,” it will not resume practices or games.
In its message, MCPS wrote that it will continue offering “virtual athletics,” which began this month. During the virtual season, students can listen to lectures from guest speakers and do virtual workouts.
Under the state guidance, cross-country, field hockey, football, golf, soccer and volleyball seasons will stretch from Oct. 7 to Dec. 12. Championship events and tournaments for each sport are scheduled between Dec. 14 and 19, according to the press release.
Winter sports (basketball, swimming and diving, indoor track and wrestling) can begin practices on Dec. 14 and games on Jan. 4.
Spring sports (baseball, softball, lacrosse, tennis, and track and field) can begin on March 15, and games on April 5.
Schools that choose to not resume athletics in October can participate in the state’s “second-semester plan,” which says fall sports can begin practices on March 15 and competitions on April 5. The season would end May 8.
Under the second-semester plan, winter sports begin practices on Feb. 1 and competitions on Feb. 22. Spring sports begin on April 26 and competitions begin on May 16.
MCPS guidelines say the district hopes to participate in the second-semester plan.
State guidelines say face coverings are required for all employees, spectators and athletes when indoors. When outdoors, face coverings are required “if unable to consistently maintain at least six feet of distance from other non-household individuals.”
Masks are not required while swimming or during “other physical activities where the use of a face covering is likely to pose a safety risk.” Masks are also not required if wearing one would impede communication with someone who has a hearing impairment or when it is hot.