(Aug. 7, 2020) Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association announced on Monday that after consulting with the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, the Maryland Department of Health and the Public School Superintendent Association of Maryland, has decided to postpone the 2020 high school fall and winter competition seasons during the first semester.
The decision was made after nearly 75 percent of the 24 school districts in Maryland announced they will begin education virtually to start the year.
The organizations are working to finalize a hybrid two-semester plan focused on student engagement options in the first semester and modified competition seasons for all sports during the second semester.
Details of the hybrid two-semester plan will be available in the coming weeks prior to the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, as the health and safety of student participants, coaches and officials is a primary concern for the return of interscholastic athletics and activities, according to the press release.
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association launched the Roadmap for the Return of Interscholastic Athletics, which is designed to provide guidance for local school systems to resocialize students in athletics and activities in a safe and controlled environment.
Worcester County Public Schools along with the other school districts in the state have also each formed committees made up of coaches, athletic directors and several others.
With interscholastic athletics postponed during the first semester, that means activities could start in the second semester, which is the end of January. There are several possibilities, Lou Taylor, superintendent of Worcester County Public Schools said, with fall, winter and spring sports having shortened seasons in the second semester.
Taylor said he has been in constant contact with other administration around the state.
Several teams had already started summer conditioning and training, Taylor said, but as of late this week after the announcement to postpone fall and winter competition those activities have been put on hold.
“We’re all waiting on the final word,” Taylor said. “The number one thing is the health and safety of everyone involved. Athletics are big not only for our student-athletes, but for parents and the community.”
Jamie Greenwood, who coaches boys’ soccer in the fall and girls’ tennis in the spring for Stephen Decatur High School, would love to get his players back on the field.
“Hopefully we can do something. It’s disappointing we can’t start right away, but hopefully we’ll have something in the spring,” he said. “Something is better than nothing.”
The group was slated to begin preseason training next week.
“We had a fantastic team this year,” Greenwood said.
Worcester County Public Schools announced on July 30 it would be starting school on Sept. 8 with virtual learning. However, schools could transition into a hybrid learning model by Sept. 28, dependent on current conditions of the spread of covid-19.
Worcester Preparatory School in Berlin is expected to begin in-person instruction on Sept. 1 for students in grades 9-12, and everyone returning by Sept. 8.
The fall sports season will also be modified.
“The Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference is moving forward with a plan to modify its fall sports season. The details of what a modified fall season will look like are still being discussed,” said Worcester Prep Athletic Director Matt McGinnis, who is also the president of the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference. “Whether it is a modified conference schedule or an in-house, intramural style program, our goal is to have some sort of athletic experience for our student-athletes here at WPS.”
Fall practices are starting on Aug. 17, McGinnis said.
“These will be non-mandatory and limited to small group training sessions where coaches can work with up to 14 players at one time,” he said. “They are only allowed to work on conditioning and individual skill development. After Labor Day weekend, teams will move into more of a ‘traditional’ team practice.”
The final details of the modified season will be decided before students return to school.
Cheryl Brown, coach of the Worcester Prep girls’ volleyball team, said she plans to begin preseason on Aug. 24.
She is eager to see her players and get back on the court, and doing so safely.
“We will make it the best we can … They need some sense of normalcy, something in-person and not virtual,” she said. “They’ve been so far apart and disconnected. For the sake of the kids, [playing sports] is great for their mental health and a great outlet [and] being with each other is a great asset. When you’re part of a team I feel it’s instant friendship and instant support.”