Citing the rising COVID-19 case incidence rate across the county and a recent spate of positive tests among participants in high school athletics programs, Superintendent George Arlotto announced today that all in-person athletics and extracurricular activities will be temporarily halted, effective immediately. The rate, which measures the average number of new cases per 100,000 county residents over a seven-day period, had risen to 21.3 as of yesterday.
The announcement brings an end to in-person offseason fall athletics practices. Offseason spring sports practices, which are scheduled to begin on Nov. 16, 2020, will start virtually. Registration for the spring sessions will continue as planned, and the status of practices will be updated on the AACPS Athletics website at least weekly throughout the three-week window from Nov. 16, 2020, through Dec. 5, 2020.
All other in-person extracurricular activities are also suspended until further notice, though virtual gatherings for both athletics and extracurricular activities can continue as scheduled. The start of the competitive winter sports athletic season, now scheduled for Dec. 7, 2020, will be further evaluated in the coming weeks.
Acting in consultation with the Anne Arundel County Department of Health, county high school principals have notified families of nine positive tests that have required various program participants at eight schools to quarantine and halted programs since Oct. 24, 2020.
“The last thing I want to do is curtail in-person opportunities for our students, but the case rate numbers grow more concerning by the day,” Dr. Arlotto said. “I have said since the beginning of this pandemic that our school system is not going to be the reason that people get sick or spread this virus. The prudent thing to do now is to curtail in-person activities until the case rate returns to a level that we can resume them.”
The Board of Education last week voted to delay the full implementation of the hybrid learning schedule for students in Early Childhood Intervention programs and prekindergarten through second grade. Those students whose families had so chosen were scheduled to return to buildings on Nov. 16, 2020, and attend on either Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday and working virtually on other days. All students and teachers would have worked virtually on Wednesdays to allow for a thorough cleaning of school buildings.
Students in grades 3 through 5 whose families had so chosen would have returned in a hybrid format on Nov. 30, 2020, operating under the same guidelines as students in ECI and prekindergarten through second grade. No firm date had been set for the return of middle school and high school students.
The day after the Board’s action, Dr. Arlotto announced that in-person outdoor athletics and extracurricular activities could continue pending an ongoing examination of COVID-19 health and safety metrics.