MPSSAA re­leases new plan for re­turn to high school sports

Start­ing fall prac­tice Au­gust 12 yet to be de­ter­mined

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By BILL GATES bgates@ches­pub.com

The Mar yland Pub­lic Sec­ondary Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion (MPSSAA) re­leased an up­date last week to its “Roadmap for Re­turn of In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­let­ics.”

Some feel it’s dif­fi­cult to see that roadmap lead­ing to a fall sports sea­son.

Last month the MPSSAA gave the go-ahead for lo­cal school sys­tems to be­gin work­outs on July 1 — as long as they ob­served COVID-19 safety guide­lines — with the an­tic­i­pa­tion of start­ing fall sports prac­tice on Au­gust 12.

That was seen as a rea­son for op­ti­mism at the time by some lo­cal coaches and ad­min­is­tra­tors.

Come July 1, some lo­cal school sys­tems — like Anne Arun­del County — opted not to start work­outs.

Bal­ti­more County was to have a meet­ing to dis­cuss its op­tions on Tues­day night af­ter The Ea­gle went to press.

“I think there’s no hope [for fall sports],” one lo­cal coach said af­ter read­ing last week’s up­date. “It’s mis­er­able and sad and I can’t be­lieve it.

“Teenagers aren’t at risk [from COVID-19], and nei­ther are mod­er­ately healthy peo­ple.”

The up­dated roadmap still has re­stric­tions against shar­ing wa­ter bot­tles, no shar­ing of prac­tice uni­forms, no hud­dles, no spit­ting, equip­ment must be san­i­tized af­ter each use and cool­ers must be san­i­tized.

“I’m doubt­ing we have fall sports now,” an ad­min­is­tra­tor said.

Other ex­am­ples of re­stric­tions: hy­dra­tion sta­tions (wa­ter foun­tains, wa­ter cows and wa­ter troughs) are not rec­om­mended.

An ef­fort must be made for ath­letes to wear face masks “to the ex­tent possible” while re­main­ing aware that face masks in­crease CO2 re­ten­tion, in­creases chance of heat ill­ness, and the user must take more fre­quent wa­ter and rest breaks and dis­in­fect their mask daily.

The Roadmap to Re­open­ing states that lo­cal school sys­tems in com­pli­ance with state and lo­cal health de­part­ments “may reen­gage student-ath­letes for the pur­pose of men­tal, phys­i­cal and so­cial-emo­tional well-be­ing.

School sys­tems may chose to use at-home vir­tual in­struc­tion un­til they feel pre­pared for ac­tual, phys­i­cal, in­per­son out-of-school con­di­tion­ing, ex­er­cise and weight train­ing.

(It is be­lieved this is what Bal­ti­more County will have de­ter­mined at Tues­day’s meet­ing.)

Cur­rently, the MPSSAA states its mem­ber schools and ath­letes must op­er­ate in the low­est-risk level: skill-build­ing drills or con­di­tion­ing at home, alone or with fam­ily mem­bers.

Lo­cal school sys­tems can start in­creas­ing risk lev­els at their dis­cre­tion: mov­ing to the afore­men­tioned school-based con­di­tion­ing, weight train­ing and ex­er­cise.

Bal­ti­more County is still at the low­est risk level, where only the in-home vir tual train­ing is al­lowed. The county has to de­cide if it will in­crease its risk level.

The next level is “In­creas­ing risk” (the work­ing out at school), fol­lowed by “More Risk” (prac­tices with lim­ited con­tact) and then “Even More Risk” (full com­pe­ti­tion be­tween teams from the same lo­cal geo­graphic area).

“High­est Risk” is com­pe­ti­tions be­tween teams not from the same area.

Or: at level 2 schools can prac­tice; at level 3 they can hold in­trasquad scrim­mages; at Level 4 they can play an­other lo­cal school and at five they can play any school.

The 30-page doc­u­ment may be viewed on the MPSSAA web­site: mpssaa.org.

“Coaches want to come back, the kids want to come back, and some par­ents,” an ad­min­is­tra­tor said. “Most par­ents are cau­tious.”

The MPSSAA ex­pects to con­tinue re­leas­ing up­dates to its Roadmap for Re­open­ing on Tues­day, July 21, July 21, and Au­gust 4.

These up­dates will con­cern the start of fall prac­tice and any mod­i­fi­ca­tions that must be made to sports.

There may also be up­dates con­cern­ing any new informatio­n from Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s of­fice, the state health depart­ment and the su­per­in­ten­dent of schools.

Con­tin­gency plans, in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of mov­ing sports sea­sons, are also be­ing dis­cussed.

PHOTO BY BILL GATES

The Spar­rows Point field hockey team won a re­gional ti­tle last year. Now they’re wait­ing to see how long it will be be­fore they can de­fend it.

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