The following information was provided as part of the HCPSS Superintendent report to the Howard County Board of Education on October 8th (thanks to Dr. Chao Wu for sharing this information).
● The recent announcement by Maryland State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon and Governor Larry Hogan to allow the start of high school athletics to begin yesterday, October 7, has generated much discussion in our community and questions about 8 whether Howard County will begin athletics sooner than the second semester, as was originally decided.
● Last week, we distributed information to the community that we were continuing to participate in statewide discussions before revisiting our decision on the return of inperson athletics. Tonight, I will provide an update on those discussions and our considerations.
● Last Friday, the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM) issued a letter to the State Superintendent urging her to consider an alternate plan, crafted by the supervisors of athletics programs from around the state, to begin in-person athletics on December 7. This plan has several benefits including:
○ Longer athletic seasons than the state’s previously-announced two-semester plan that would begin on February 1 and include all sports,
○ Sufficient time for districts to solidify the health metrics that they will use to base decisions for the return to in-person instruction and athletics,
○ Ample time for staff and schools to safely and properly reintroduce studentathletes to the physical rigors of competitive high school athletics including proper conditioning,
○ Sufficient opportunity to ensure health protocols are adopted and implemented at every school and athletic facility and that we have sufficient coaching and training staff available, and
○ Necessary time to develop thoughtful plans for transportation, crowd limitations, facility use, and competition schedules.
● Howard County will not be participating in the State’s new plan, which began yesterday, October 7. Instead, we will continue to advocate for the State’s adoption of the proposed December 7th plan and target all of our preparation efforts for that date. If the State declines to adopt that plan, HCPSS will participate in the original two-semester plan adopted by the State that begins on February 1.
● At this time, only three districts in Maryland have made the decision to return on October 7, including Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties. The larger counties in the state have committed to the state’s second semester start date, including Anne Arundel county on Tuesday evening and Frederick County on Wednesday evening. 9
● For now, HCPSS coaches are still permitted to engage virtually with prospective team members for 60-90 minutes one day each week through January 22, 2021.
● It breaks my heart that I am not able to initiate the safe resumption of athletics immediately. I fully understand the benefits of athletics and other extracurricular activities for our children. We are moving towards a plan to ensure that these opportunities can begin safely and continue for the duration of the season.