Baltimore Sun

Bal­ti­more County propos­ing De­cem­ber re­turn

Win­ter sports would start prac­tices Dec. 7

- By Craig Clary Sports · Winter Sports · Baltimore County · Baltimore · Notts County F.C. · Maryland · Larry Hogan · High School Sports

It’s not of­fi­cial yet, but Bal­ti­more County pub­lic school ath­letes may be get­ting closer to the start­ing line for in-per­son work­outs and ear­lier starts for the win­ter, fall and spring sea­sons.

On Tues­day night, at a vir­tual Bal­ti­more County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion meet­ing, a pro­posal was made for the first prac­tice for win­ter sports to be moved up to

Dec. 7, with Jan. 4 be­ing the first play date for games. The last day of the win­ter sports sea­son would be Feb. 13.

The fall sea­son would run Fe­bru­ary through April and the spring sea­son would run April through June.

The pro­posal needs to be ap­proved by Karen B. Salmon, the Mary­land state su­per­in­ten­dent of schools, and the Mary­land Pub­lic Se­condary Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion.

Cur­rently, Bal­ti­more County is op­er­at­ing un­der the orig­i­nal twosemeste­r pro­posal for win­ter, fall and spring high school sports com­pe­ti­tion that would have sports re­turn­ing Feb. 1 and run­ning through June 19. Win­ter sports would run through March 27; the fall sea­son, March 15 through May 8; and the spring sea­son, April 26 through June 19.

Each sea­son would be­gin with a 20-day pre­sea­son and have five weeks of in­ter­scholas­tic ath­letic com­pe­ti­tion avail­able.

In a news con­fer­ence, along with Gov. Larry Ho­gan on Sept. 24, Salmon said high school sports could re­turn as soon as Oct. 7 with com­pe­ti­tions al­lowed to be­gin Oct. 27.

At Tues­day’s school board meet­ing, Rus­sell T. Kuehn ad­dressed that date for in-per­son con­nec­tions with fall ath­letes who are cur­rently train­ing and learn­ing in vir­tual set­tings.

“Based on what the gov­er­nor said and the state su­per­in­ten­dent, they dis­cussed Oct. 7 as the first day that high schools in Mary­land could have prac­tice, so that was about a week ago and there is no prac­tice un­der way,” he said.

Kuehn asked the panel: “What

is the dead­line for the de­ci­sion on in-per­son fall train­ing be­cause we are rapidly los­ing time?”

Dar­ryl L. Wil­liams, Su­per­in­ten­dent of Bal­ti­more County Schools re­sponded: “The Re­turn to Play Com­mit­tee is look­ing at some pos­si­bil­i­ties, but what we do know, ob­vi­ously Bal­ti­more County and other dis­tricts of the school sys­tems were not pre­pared to meet that Oct. 7 date.”

The orig­i­nal sec­ond-se­mes­ter plan, with games start­ing in Fe­bru­ary, would have sea­sons over­lap­ping each other.

“Based on the feed­back of the Mary­land school sys­tems, specif­i­cally our ath­letic su­per­vi­sor and talk­ing with our ath­letic di­rec­tors, there was a sec­ond pro­posal made about look­ing at the win­dow to be­gin ear­lier, in­stead of Jan­uary, to be­gin in De­cem­ber, and to con­tinue what we have in place now with the fall vir­tual coach­ing and engagement pro­grams,” Wil­liams said.

Ob­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion and feed­back from the health depart­ment, ath­letic di­rec­tors, coaches and ad­min­is­tra­tors is on­go­ing.

Mike Sye, Bal­ti­more County Su­per­vi­sor of Ath­let­ics, is ab­sorb­ing the daily changes caused by COVID-19.

“I think we are mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. There are a lot of stake hold­ers that are in­volved that have a lot of in­put in terms of the re­turn of ath­let­ics,” said Sye, who is on the Re­turn to Play Com­mit­tee. “We are just tak­ing it step by step and mak­ing sure we get all the in­for­ma­tion to make the best de­ci­sion we can. The tough­est part is that the in­for­ma­tion is al­ways chang­ing.”

See­ing youth and club teams play­ing soc­cer, lacrosse, base­ball and other sports doesn’t make see­ing the county ath­letes idle any eas­ier.

“I think that’s the tough­est part, peo­ple are see­ing that, but the school sys­tem has a large re­spon­si­bil­ity for the health and safety of the kids,” Sye said.

Sye re­al­izes that other coun­ties are go­ing through the same dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions.

“We are all kind of up­dated be­cause their met­rics change and their in­put changes, so while we try to be in align­ment with each other, ev­ery area is go­ing through it dif­fer­ently,” Sye said. “We are all just try­ing to work to­gether, but again try­ing to work with the rules of our own sep­a­rate coun­ties.”

As of Wed­nes­day, the orig­i­nal plan for com­pe­ti­tion is still Feb. 1.

“Our fo­cus right now is re­turn­ing Feb. 1 and then we are look­ing at other alternativ­es to get our kids up and run­ning,” Sye said. “If we can ever get to the point where we can bring kids in, that would be a great thing too.”

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