Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland Superintendent of Schools Announce Return of Fall Sports on October 7, 2020

September 28, 2020

Following a visit to schools in Frederick County today, Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon announced the return of fall sports in Maryland. Each local school system will now have the ability to officially start the interscholastic athletic fall season in secondary schools beginning Wednesday, October 7, 2020.

“Getting our kids back on the playing field and allowing youth sports to resume this fall is critical for the social and mental well-being of our students,” said Governor Hogan. “Now that all 24 jurisdictions have submitted plans to resume in-person instruction, allowing fall sports to begin next month marks another important step on our road to recovery.”

The decision of the State Superintendent was reached after recent discussions with the State Board of Education, the 24 local school system Superintendents, the Executive Director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA), parents, and other stakeholders. Additional considerations included statewide health metrics and guidance provided by the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) as Maryland continues to operate in the early portion of Stage Three of its Roadmap to Recovery plan.

“High school sports and competition are deeply rooted in the fabric of our schools and communities,” said Dr. Salmon. “The steps taken today are directly related to the need of our students to be active and engaged for their physical, social, and emotional well-being. These programs have a history of providing opportunities for all students, and not just those with the economic capabilities, to participate.”

All 24 school systems have now submitted plans to begin resuming in-person instruction this fall. To date, 11 local school systems—Allegany, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, St. Mary’s, Washington, and Worcester—have announced plans to bring students back onto school campuses for in-person athletic opportunities this fall.

October 7 Option For Fall Sports.

  • All school systems shall, as soon as possible, provide conditioning and training opportunities utilizing the current available options provided by the MPSSAA.
  • On October 7, 2020, all local school systems may choose to begin formal fall sport season practices in preparation for a competition season which will begin on October 27.  All practices and preparation must be in accordance with Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) required practice regulations, and all face covering and public health protocols established by the state and local health departments.
  • The state is expanding the seasonal competition timeframes as previously announced for all winter and spring sports within this plan.
  • The October 7 option provides for seven weeks of competition for fall sports—including cross country, field hockey, football, golf, soccer, and volleyball:
    • First available practice date: October 7, 2020
    • First available competition date: October 27, 2020 (Golf may resume competition on October 7, 2020.)
    • Last play date: December 12, 2020
    • Culminating event/tournament: December 14-19, 2020
  • With the October 7 option, winter sports can begin practice on December 14, and spring sports can begin practice on March 15. Additional details will be provided by MPSSAA.
  • Local school systems that choose not to exercise the October 7 option for fall sports may utilize the Second Semester Plan option as previously announced.

Return to Play Timeline.

  • On June 10, Dr. Salmon announced that outdoor high school sports may resume practice and training activities within the same guidelines for youth sports programs.
  • On June 12, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) issued a directive allowing all youth sports to begin resuming.
  • On July 7, the MPSSAA released a return to play guidance document requiring each local school system to assemble a Return to Play Committee. Within that document, the MPSSAA states: “The MPSSAA will issue additional detailed guidance periodically, as deemed necessary by the state’s movement toward phase three and schools operating under a new modified sense of normalcy.”
  • The “Maryland Together” Recovery Plan for Education required school systems to include preparations for a return to play in their reopening plans that were due on August 14.
  • As of today, Maryland is currently one of only seven states to have no fall competition.

Public Health Protocols. The Maryland Department of Health has released Best Practices and Guidance for Youth Sports, and the CDC has published Considerations for Youth Sports.

Capacity and Spectator Limits. In addition to face coverings and social distancing guidelines, schools must follow all capacity and spectator limits set by the Maryland Department of Health.