Carroll County high school sports: Spring workouts to end Nov. 25, start of winter season to be delayed

Spring high school sports activities will end by Thanksgiving, and the start of the winter sports season has been delayed because of rising COVID-19 numbers throughout Carroll County.

Michael Duffy, Carroll County’s supervisor of athletics, said all spring sports activities that are currently taking place are suspended as of Wednesday, Nov. 25, and he suggested the Board of Education delay the winter sports season to Dec. 14, seven days after it was scheduled to start.


Board members agreed and said they would revisit the topic Dec. 2 to see where the county is with COVID-19 cases.

Duffy said having no sports activity during those two weeks could provide time needed for a possible rise in cases from family Thanksgiving gatherings to die down. He said he’s hoping people will stay in their “bubbles” and cases will be low enough to move forward with winter sports safely.


“We’re asking people to be responsible and do the right thing,” Duffy said.

Duffy said colleagues in other jurisdictions are pessimistic that winter sports will be able to start. Basketball and wrestling are considered risky given that they are played indoors and there is no way for players to avoid close contact with other players.

Duffy said if they are unable to start sports in December, “I think our chances of having a winter season are very slim.”

He added that students would need to wait 20 days after the first day of practice before starting competition, which would leave little time for any winter season.

Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, an ex-officio member of the school board, questioned the continuance of workouts prior to Thanksgiving when the board voted for students to stop hybrid learning and return to virtual learning.

“I don’t get that,” he said.

Duffy said workouts were taking place before the schools were in hybrid mode for high school students. The workouts are currently taking place outdoors and athletes are spread out, he said.

Ed Singer, the county health officer, said he understood the commissioner’s concerns but confirmed athletes are keeping their distance, playing outside and, in his opinion, are at little risk of transmission.

“Now when we talk about winter sports, that’s an entirely different conversation,” he said.

Singer said he is a former wrestler who knows his position on winter sports would upset his wrestler nephew. But he said he cannot imagine putting 30 to 40 wrestlers in a room. It could result in 40 kids in quarantine from being close contacts, Singer said.

“There’s no way we’re going to limit the outbreak among sports teams,” he said.

Singer said in order for him to endorse having winter high school sports, COVID-19 cases would have to come down significantly. He later added that he does not foresee the county having improved case rates by December.


Board member Ken Kiler said wrestling has already been going on in the county and noted events in Eldersburg. He said his concern is that high school students will find ways to compete in wrestling in a less restrictive environment if the school system chooses not to do it.

Fellow board member Tara Battaglia said Carroll County Public Schools’ athletics seems locked down compared to the recreational leagues.

“We have a solid plan in place to make sure it’s not massively crowded,” she said.

Battaglia said “we have to have the community help us out,” in terms of following guidelines, recreational sports programs included, to get case numbers down so high school sports can resume.

President Donna Sivigny reminded the board it does not have authority over recreational sports. But Sivigny said the board could ask the communities to follow protocols that would mitigate the spread.

“We took away sports from those juniors last spring,” fellow member Marsha Herbert said, noting that CCPS protocols will be tougher and she knows they will do a better job than those outside the school system.

“I hope we can go forward with this,” she said. “Our senior athletes need this. They really do.”

Board members also unanimously approved a modification to the school’s policy on extracurricular academic eligibility. All students will be eligible if there is a winter season, regardless of first quarter grades. That will change with the second quarter, however.

“The second quarter report card, to be distributed on February 9th, will determine eligibility for fall extracurricular activities,” the policy reads. “Beginning with this report card, in order to be eligible, students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average (C) and have no failing grades (Fs).”

The plan is for the winter sports season to be followed by the fall sports season to be followed by the spring sports season.

Initially, attendance was not going to be a factor to determine eligibility to play sports. However, the school system declared starting Feb. 9, attendance will be an added consideration in eligibility and students must be present for learning nine of every 10 days.

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