sports

Activities limited during first semester; modified seasons in second term

(Sept. 18, 2020) Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association recently released a Roadmap for Return to Interscholastic Athletics and Extracurricular Activities Two-Semester Plan.

The MPSSAA consulted with the Maryland State Department of Education, Maryland Department of Health and Public Schools Superintendents Association of Maryland on the hybrid plan, which focuses on “student engagement options in the first semester and modified competition seasons for all sports during the second semester.”

It was developed to allow the 24 Maryland local school systems flexibility to maximize participation opportunities for the engagement of students during the first semester and sets a plan for sport competition in the second semester.

Worcester County Public Schools and the other school systems each set up Return to Play committees. For Worcester, the committee was made up of the three high school athletic directors, two principals, one athletic supervisor, one male and one female coach from each school, one trainer and one assistant superintendent.

The group came up with a plan for the first semester, which was submitted to Superintendent Lou Taylor.

He approved it and it was then passed on to the MPSSAA.

“We want to get players physically and mentally active and prepared to return to athletics,” said Dr. Dwayne Abt, assistant superintendent and chief safety and human relations officer. One of his duties is to also oversee athletics.

The MPSSAA plan allows for out-of-season participation in all sports. Local school systems can create any combination of virtual practices or in-person conditioning, skill-building sessions, sport-specific practices, intramurals, and intra-school/inter-school scrimmages.

In addition, student engagement must be based on the level of community spread and any other factors as identified by the local health department, according to the two-semester plan.

Worcester County Public Schools posted its Athletics & Extracurricular Activity Plan for semester 1 on Facebook earlier this week.

Currently, preseason conditioning workouts are available virtually for student-athletes in all sports.

The plan is for students to slowly return to school for in-person learning beginning Monday, Sept. 28.

According to Worcester County’s semester 1 plan, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 31, all spring sports are permitted to have virtual practices, in-person conditioning, skill-building sessions, sport-specific practices, intramurals, and pending approval by the superintendent, inter/intra-school scrimmages.

Then from Nov. 2 to Dec. 9, fall sports teams can participate in those same activities. Winter sports teams will be permitted to take part in activities from Dec. 10 to Jan. 29.

Semester 1 training sessions are open to all athletes. Coaches are not permitted to conduct tryouts. According to the MPSSAA, teams may not be established for the second semester during the first semester.

“Team selection for the competition season will occur within the confines of the respective preseason as identified in the second semester plan,” the MPSSAA plan states.

“Part of the reengagement plan is that coaches can’t make cuts or form teams,” Abt said. “It’s for players interested in playing those sports.”

The second semester runs from Feb. 1 to June 19. The MPSSAA has laid out modified sports seasons. Each sports season will have a 20-calendar day preseason and five weeks of competition.

All sports will have the opportunity to play between 50 and 100 percent of their typical season allotment of competitions.

Each sport will be evaluated by the MPSSAA on an individual basis to determine if there will be state tournaments or championships.

The first up will be winter sports, with practices taking place Feb. 1-21. Feb. 22 to March 27 will be the competition season.

The second season will be for fall sports. Practices are slated from March 15 to April 4. The competition season will run from April 5 to May 8.

The third season will be for spring sports. Practices will be held from April 26 to May 16. The competition season will be from May 17 to June 19.

Both Taylor and Abt are excited and looking forward to students returning to school for in-person learning and athletics.

“We’re excited to get the kids back to school and back playing. We’re doing the best we can under the circumstances,” Taylor said. “The goal is to get the kids moving in the right direction. Success is learned on the field as much as it is in the classroom.”

Because of covid-19, the last day students were in school was March 13.

Nearly all of the winter sports season was finished except for championship games, which were canceled.

With Maryland school systems beginning to announce virtual learning to start the 2020-21 school year, MPSSAA announced on Aug. 3 that after consulting with the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, the Maryland Department of Health and the Public School Superintendent Association of Maryland, it had decided to postpone the 2020-21 high school fall and winter competition seasons during the first semester.

“The health and safety of student participants, coaches, athletic administrators, and officials is a primary concern for the return of interscholastic athletics,” the MPSSAA plan states.

The full MPSSAA Roadmap for Return to Interscholastic Athletics and Extracurricular Activities Two-Semester Plan is available at https://www.mpssaa.org/assets/1/6/MPSSAA_Roadmap_Two-Semester_Plan_(2).pdf?6578.

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