Which School Systems Are Allowing Return to Fall Sports?

Photo by Erik Cloyd

Last month Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon surprising announced that local school systems could decide to return to fall sports beginning on October 7. Following a 20-day period of mandatory practices, those school systems could then begin officially sanctioned competition. Some systems (especially in western Maryland) have already taken up the idea, while others (mostly the largest school systems) have announced they will remain virtual throughout the first semester.

Systems that do not opt into the October 7 plan will have the option to follow the second-semester plan, which lumps all three seasons of sports into overlapping periods beginning in February. While there are currently no set dates for postseason (regional and state) meets in either plan there are set periods of time for such competitions to happen.

Which school systems have opted into the October 7 plan?

The Baltimore Sun has been keeping a running list of which school systems are and are not choosing to opt into the October 7 plan. The systems that have opted in include:

- Allegany County (Allegany, Fort Hill and Mountain Ridge high schools)

- Garrett County (Northern Garrett and Southern Garrett high schools)

- Washington County (Boonsboro, Clear Spring, Hancock, North Hagerstown, Smithsburg, South Hagerstown and Williamsport high schoools)

These counties make up the westernmost tip of Maryland.

Which school systems have announced they will not begin until the second semester (adopting the second-semester plan)?

- Anne Arundel County (12 high schools)

- Harford County (10 high schools)

- Montgomery County (25 high schools)

Which school systems have not opted into the October 7 plan but have not announced they will certainly wait until the second semester?

- Carroll County (Century, Francis Scott Key, Liberty, Manchester Valley, South Carroll, Westminster and Winters Mill high schools)

- Frederick County (10 high schools)

- Howard County (12 high schools)

- Wicomico County (James M. Bennett, Mardela, Parkside and Wicomico high schools)

Howard County, in particular, has pushed for a plan that would allow a return to sports beginning on December 7, according to the Baltimore Sun.

What would competition schedules look like in each plan?

In its latest roadmap the MPSSAA provided sample schedules for both of its return to competition plans:

SportOctober 7 PlanSecond Semester Plan
Cross Country

Practice Begins: October 7

Competition Begins: October 27

Competition Ends: December 7

Competition Weeks: Seven

Championship Season: December 14-19

Practice Begins: March 15

Competition Begins: April 5

Competition Ends: May 8

Competition Weeks: Five

Championship Season: TBD

Indoor Track

Practice Begins: December 14

Competition Begins: January 4

Competition Ends: February 27

Competition Weeks: Eight

Championship Season: March 1-13

Practice Begins: February 1

Competition Begins: February 22

Competition Ends: March 27

Competition Weeks: Five

Championship Season: TBD

Outdoor Track

Practice Begins: March 15

Competition Begins: April 5

Competition Ends: June 5

Competition Weeks: Nine

Championship Season: June 7-19

Practice Begins: April 26

Competition Begins: May 17

Competition Ends: June 19

Competition Weeks: Five

Championship Season: TBD

In this format, only the spring (outdoor track) season would align in a way to make competition between both sets of school systems feasible.

Will there be two sets of state championship competitions?

The language of the MPSSAA's most recent release states that systems have the option to participate in either plan, but provides no guidance on systems possibly engaging in a hybrid of both. As of now, there are no set championship dates for the second-semester plan, but in their earlier press release on September 11 the MPSSAA said they would continue to explore all options for such competitions to occur.

As of now only three systems (and a total of just twelve high schools) have opted into the October 7 plan, with other counties such as Carroll and Frederick still considering opting in. Even with set dates for postseason competition for the October 7 plan on the calendar it would seem unlikely they would actually be held for just three of the smallest counties in the state.

However, if championship seasons are held during the second semester for the rest of the schools, would the school systems that opted in to the October 7 plan be shut out from competing? According to the schedule above, at the time when a second-semester state cross country meet could be held (sometime in mid-May), the first set of schools would be squarely in the middle of their outdoor track season.

What about private schools?

The WCAC, which includes schools throughout the DC Metropolitan area (Maryland, DC and northern Virginia) has officially cancelled sports throughout the first semester. Update: The MIAA and IAAM confirmed on Monday morning that schools within the conferences will be allowed to compete in "open seasons", according to the Baltimore Sun. A detailed school-by-school can be found from the Sun here.