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Baltimore County outlines plan for fall return of high school sports

Catonsville's Jamal Johnson carries the ball in a win over Parkville last season.
Catonsville's Jamal Johnson carries the ball in a win over Parkville last season. (File photo/2014)

Baltimore County has implemented a plan for high school athletes to return to play this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan will begin with athletes returning to campuses for “voluntary conditioning and skill development sessions.” On Monday, the Maryland State Board of Education voted to approve the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s proposal to begin competitive sports, beginning with practices Dec. 7. Games would begin Jan. 4.

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Baltimore-area public school teams have not competed since the MPSSAA shut down competition in early March. A few private schools have been playing fall sports, while the state’s two largest private-school leagues allowed teams to start playing this week with an open-scheduling format.

Baltimore County decided to move ahead with its plan this week.

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“We appreciate the important and unique role that athletics play in connecting students to their schools, promoting physical and mental health, developing students' collaborative and leadership skills, and more,” Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams said. “We have worked closely with our athletics and health services staff and with the Baltimore County Department of Health in developing this opportunity to bring student-athletes back to school campuses for conditioning and skill development activities.”

According to a news release, there will be no tryouts and all interested participants are encouraged to attend. Students participating “will be required to register, complete pre-participation physicals, and sign parent/student participation acknowledgment statements.” No flu shots will be required, but are heavily encouraged.

Student-athletes will be required to follow safety measures, including wearing a face covering, practicing social distancing, bringing their own water bottles and demonstrating good hygiene and behavior that is consistent with healthy practices. The plan currently limits the amount of student-athletes to workout in “pods” of 20.

In case there are symptoms, the coach, student-athlete or member of the program that it involves must take the following steps:

  • Make sure that they do not have a fever. Each employee or student is recommended to check their temperature at home.
  • Not reporting to an event if they are running a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher.
  • Not reporting if they have any symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, including, but not limited to fever, new or onset shortness of breath and/or loss of taste or smell. Additionally, if one of the two following symptoms are present, they are advised to stay home: fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, chills, sore throat, congestion, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • If they have COVID-19 symptoms, they must consult with their health care provider.
  • They are also not advised to report if they are awaiting their test results or if they are under isolation.

Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties began play on Tuesday, ahead of the MPSSAA’s announcement.

Here is a breakdown of the schedule for each Baltimore County sports season:

Winter sports

Voluntary workouts: Nov. 16-Dec. 4

Practices begin: Dec. 7

Play begins: Jan. 4

Play ends: Feb. 13

Fall sports

Voluntary workouts: Dec. 7-30

Practices begin: Feb. 13

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Play begins: March 5

Play ends: April 17

Spring sports

Voluntary workouts: Jan. 4-22

Practices begin: April 17

Play begins: May 7

Play ends: June 19

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