Baltimore County was all set to potentially play all three high school sports seasons with abbreviated schedules in the second semester beginning on Feb. 1.

The Gov. Larry Hogan and State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon complicated things a tad by announcing two weeks ago that fall sports could begin practicing on Oct. 7 and begin playing games on Oct. 27.

The feasibility of such a sudden shift in plans was discussed during the county Board of Education meting on Sept. 29.

Hint: October 7 was the day before this paper’s publication date. Bet you didn’t see any football or soccer teams practicing.

“Our Return to Play committee is assembled and has been digging in to what is the feasibility around us adjusting our model: is it feasible? Is it safe?” Dr. Mary Boswell-McComas told the school board. “And to that end we have been conferring with the health department.

“We’re exploring the risk factors, by sport, because we recognize that some sports are inherently safer than other sports when it comes to the spread of a virus.”

The committee, Dr. McComas said, was looking into ways to determine what is “safe and practical” when it came to re-starting athletics.

“With our primary plan, of starting sports in the second semester, there are thousands of families whose children have not yet had their physicals,” Dr. McComas said. “And it takes time and a process for families to get these physicals.”

Also, many of the companies that provide athletic trainers for county schools furloughed these trainers for the fall, so these trainers would have to be re-hired.

County coaches, preparing for play in the second semester, may have already set up their schedules to support virtual instruction in the fall.

“These are some of the many complicated logistics the Return to Play Committee is working through and exploring in terms of feasibility,” Dr. McComas said. “Also keep in mind the readiness of our fields and the mitigation strategies related to PPE, all the protocols that need to go into place.”

Dr. McComas was asked if athletes could start practicing in the fall to start preparing for play in the second semester; the committee is exploring that option, she replied.

When will a decision be reached, considering the day to begin practices is approaching?

“We don’t have a hard deadline, but we realize time is of the essence,” Dr. McComas said.

The Board said a deadline had to be set by the time of the next meeting, as we have “lots of student-athletes whose final season is slipping away quickly.”

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