xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Our View: State’s flip-flop on high school sports puts ball in Carroll County’s court | COMMENTARY

After Wednesday night’s Board of Education meeting, it appears Carroll County Public Schools will be going forward with its plan to open the buildings to students on Oct. 19 in a hybrid model that will have them alternating between attending school in-person two days and virtually two days with one day reserved for sanitizing facilities and online learning only.

With the question of whether and when to begin reopening schools seemingly settled, CCPS will soon move on to the question of whether to begin high school sports at essentially the same time.

Advertisement

This wasn’t an issue as recently as Wednesday night, but on Thursday, in sports parlance, the state threw a curveball, changing the rules in the middle of the game.

After having previously decided to contest the winter, fall and spring seasons, in abbreviated fashion, beginning Feb. 1, the dates were pushed way up, giving school systems the option of starting fall sports practice on Oct. 7 with games allowed Oct. 27.

Advertisement

Our guess is that most coaches, players and parents will be in favor of playing as soon as possible, but some, certainly, are justifiably questioning why the state has gotten into the habit of making a decision, having school systems react to that decision with detailed plans, and then changing direction at the 11th hour.

On Wednesday night, when Carroll County Supervisor of Athletics Michael Duffy asked board members if they would be comfortable moving up the high school sports timetable if the state gave them the opportunity, several spoke at the same time and President Donna Sivigny answered, “I think that’s a resounding yes.” Added Vice President Marsha Herbert: “If we can start it tomorrow, that’s fine with me.”

They shouldn’t be held to that position because “tomorrow” wasn’t an option at the time. But now, essentially, it is.

Board members have been in frequent contact with the county’s top health official, Ed Singer, throughout the pandemic and surely will receive guidance from him on this one. They may not want to hear what he has to say.

“I’d really be uncomfortable if we open sports and open schools at the same time because every time we have to reopen something, that gives us a new bubble that we have to deal with,” Singer told us Thursday afternoon. "I know there’s a real push to get high school sports reopened, but I kind of think we need to be putting the priority on getting the schools reopened.

“I’m going to be real uncomfortable if we move forward with both of those, but that’s going to be, ultimately, their decision. It’s just going to make it a lot more difficult for both the school system and us to manage if we’re trying to do everything at the same time.”

A senior scholar from Johns Hopkins University for Health Security likened getting sports going before successfully reopening schools as putting the cart before the horse. The executive director of the American Public Health Association called it “a fundamentally bad idea.”

Having students back in schools, even twice a week, was already going to be challenging. The inevitable quarantining of asymptomatic classmates of those who exhibit symptoms will disrupt families and classes. And asking teachers to simultaneously address the needs of the students in front of them as well as those tuning in online is a tall order, to say the least.

But hybrid is largely seen as a needed step to one day returning to full-on, traditional school.

“This hybrid model is going to be the hardest thing for them to do operationally,” Singer told us. “But if you don’t put some kids back in the classroom to get to the point where you’re comfortable managing that, how do you ever get to the point where you put all the kids back in school?”

How, indeed? But, then, what if you add high school sports to that mix?

Thanks to the state’s flip-flop, Carroll’s school system has yet another tough to call to make in a year filled with them.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement