Region champs

The Eastern Tech girls soccer team won a regional title last season. The COVID-19 pandemic will determine when they get to defend it.

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) released an update last week to its “Roadmap for Return of Interscholastic Athletics.”

Some feel it’s difficult to see that roadmap leading to a fall sports season.

Last month the MPSSAA gave the go-ahead for local school systems to begin workouts on July 1 — as long as they observed COVID-19 safety guidelines — with the anticipation of starting fall sports practice on August 12.

That was seen as a reason for optimism at the time by some local coaches and administrators.

Come July 1, some local school systems — like Anne Arundel County — opted not to start workouts.

Baltimore County was to have a meeting to discuss its options on Tuesday night after The Eagle went to press.

“I think there’s no hope [for fall sports],” one local coach said after reading last week’s update. “It’s miserable and sad and I can’t believe it.

“Teenagers aren’t at risk [from COVID-19], and neither are moderately healthy people.”

The updated roadmap still has restrictions against sharing water bottles, no sharing of practice uniforms, no huddles, no spitting, equipment must be sanitized after each use and coolers must be sanitized.

“I’m doubting we have fall sports now,” an administrator said.

Other examples of restrictions: hydration stations (water fountains, water cows and water troughs) are not recommended.

An effort must be made for athletes to wear face masks “to the extent possible” while remaining aware that face masks increase CO2 retention, increases chance of heat illness, and the user must take more frequent water and rest breaks and disinfect their mask daily.

The Roadmap to Reopening states that local school systems in compliance with state and local health departments “may re-engage student-athletes for the purpose of mental, physical and social-emotional well-being.

School systems may chose to use at-home virtual instruction until they feel prepared for actual, physical, in-person out-of-school conditioning, exercise and weight training.

(It is believed this is what Baltimore County will have determined at Tuesday’s meeting.)

Currently, the MPSSAA states its member schools and athletes must operate in the lowest-risk level: skill-building drills or conditioning at home, alone or with family members.

Local school systems can start increasing risk levels at their discretion: moving to the aforementioned school-based conditioning, weight training and exercise.

Baltimore County is still at the lowest risk level, where only the in-home virtual training is allowed. The county has to decide if it will increase its risk level.

The next level is “Increasing risk” (the working out at school), followed by “More Risk” (practices with limited contact) and then “Even More Risk” (full competition between teams from the same local geographic area).

“Highest Risk” is competitions between teams not from the same area.

Or: at level 2 schools can practice; at level 3 they can hold intra-squad scrimmages; at Level 4 they can play another local school and at five they can play any school.

The 30-page document may be viewed on the MPSSAA website:

“Coaches want to come back, the kids want to come back, and some parents,” an administrator said. “Most parents are cautious.”

The MPSSAA expects to continue releasing updates to its Roadmap for Reopening on Tuesday, July 21, July 21, and August 4.

These updates will concern the start of fall practice and any modifications that must be made to sports.

There may also be updates concerning any new information from Gov. Larry Hogan’s office, the state health department and the superintendent of schools.

Contingency plans, including the possibility of moving sports seasons, are also being discussed.

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