Local school districts in Maryland can choose to start the interscholastic fall athletic season within weeks, the governor announced Thursday.
High schools can start practices on Oct. 7 for a competition season that starts Oct. 27, Gov. Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon said as state health officials track progress in fighting the coronavirus.
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The governor said the decision was made with young athletes’ health in mind.
“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,” Hogan said. “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 plan allows for seven weeks of competition for students who play sports including football, soccer and cross-country.
The Maryland Department of Health updated its order on sports, saying play for contact sports like wrestling, basketball and football should be changed to increase distance between athletes per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Guidelines from the state health department say players must wear face coverings when indoors. When outdoors, face coverings are required when players can’t stay at least six feet from each other.
Montgomery County Public Schools will continue virtual athletics while it works with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services on a safe plan to reintroduce extracurricular activities.
Prince George’s County Public Schools had no immediate comment on the governor’s announcement, referring News4 to a statement by the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland, which says, in part, “As we return to classrooms, so too will we return to play, but the timing may not be perfectly aligned.”
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.