Maryland is back on.
The state became the fifth state to reverse course and return high school sports to the fall after being one of the first to move everything to Spring 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.
Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced the reversal during a joint press conference with Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday afternoon.
Maryland will begin practices on Oct. 7 and run competition from Oct. 27-Dec. 12 and then hold a stripped down postseason between Dec. 14-19, according to a news release from the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA).
The news affects football, girls volleyball, soccer, cross country, field hockey and golf.
Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Announces Local School Systems May Officially Start High School Fall Sports Beginning October 7, 2020. Story can be found here: https://t.co/RGcwDDvI7y pic.twitter.com/1OxqDdClHC
— MPSSAA (@MPSSAA_Org) September 24, 2020
Maryland follows Michigan, Colorado, Minnesota and neighboring Delaware in a growing list of states reverting back to a traditional fall season, four within the last week. Maryland originally postponed its fall season to spring on Aug. 3.
Both Salmon and Gov. Hogan said increased pressure from parents made the state take another look at their decision.
BALTIMORE SUN: Maryland gives go-ahead to resume HS sports next month
“The Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association have heard loudly and clearly from members of the school communities across the state, that there is a desire for more options as it relates to fall sports,” Salmon said, reported by The Baltimore Sun.
“After recent discussions with the State Board of Education, the 24 local school system superintendents, Executive Director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association stakeholders, and parents, I am taking the following steps to permit more opportunities for student engagement in interscholastic activities.”
Hogan pointed to the state’s “record” low coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents. “Our health metrics could not possibly have been better,” Hogan said, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Maryland has one of the country’s lowest COVID-19 infection rates — an optimal 0.94 with 56 cases per 100,000 residents (ranked 15th among states, according to the New York Times) as of Wednesday.
By comparison, Connecticut’s infection rate was currently one of the country’s highest at 1.13, but it continued to have one of the best case counts with 32 per 100,000 residents (5th-best among states) at of Wednesday.
Maryland’s school districts are being given the option to play in the fall or continue with the original spring plan. Montgomery County — which includes the suburbs north of Washington D.C. — said it would not be returning to athletics just yet, according to a press release.
Maryland superintendents also released a cautionary statement, warning that as the state reopens “the bar must be higher when it comes to our children,” while implementing the plan for districts to return to the fields.
The decision leaves six state associations — California, Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, Virginia and the District of Columbia — that have postponed all of their 2020 fall sports to Spring 2021.
Maryland’s move also leaves 16 states, including the District of Columbia, that are opting against playing football this fall.