The Maryland state superintendent of schools, Karen Salmon, told public schools on September 24 that fall sports could begin on October 7, but she left the actual start date up to local school systems.
As athletics are an important part of high school life for students, a few districts (Garrett County, Allegany County, for example) have already moved to launch some fall sports seasons on October 7. But others (Montgomery County, Washington County, Harford County) are taking a closer look because of the ongoing pandemic.
We have reported on these pages about schools in other states that are playing sports this fall, including football, but the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association announced already that football would not begin before March 15. Other sports are still eligible, though, depending on local authorities.
We have also reported that students and parents in states where sports are not being played in high schools have joined across districts and conferences to protest the delay, all but demanding school sports return, assuming appropriate safety measures are in place.
A protest not unlike those is scheduled to take place in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, tomorrow.
SAVE THE DATE: Monday(2/5) at 6:30pm for AACounty “Let Them Play” rally on grounds of Earleigh Heights Vol Fire Company (161 Richie Hwy). Bring masks-and signs!!
Come out to support YOUR school and make your voice heard.
Retweet to spread the word!! #LetThemPlay
— Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (@Bob_Ehrlich) October 3, 2020
Bob Ehrlich is a former governor of the state, and his son plays football at Broadneck High School in Annapolis. Note the typo: Monday(2/5) in his tweet should be Monday (10/5).
“It’s about the kids,” The Capital Gazette quoted him as saying. “Too often, the kids get lost in all this. It’s about kids getting back to a sense of normalcy in their lives.”
Mr Ehrlich said his son was disappointed that the state superintendent had essentially punted the issue to local school systems.
“I welcomed the announcement; I appreciated the governor doing it and the superintendent doing it. But again, what it basically did was devolve the issue to the locals. We want parents to be heard,” the Gazette quoted him as saying.
High schools in more than half the states, in fact, are playing football during the pandemic, according to the high school athletic associations and local newspapers in those states. That doesn’t mean everyone’s in favor of it, though, including medical specialists for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which has listed football as one of the “high risk” sports for transmitting Covid-19.
Non-contact sports like tennis aren’t as risky, provided coaches keep safety measures in place, such as sanitizing equipment and courts regularly. But contact sports like football may put students and staff in our schools in situations that are too risky to justify the benefits of interscholastic competition, which are, admittedly, many and profound.