Winter sports go virtual in Anne Arundel Co. amid coronavirus surge

As coronavirus cases continue to surge, Anne Arundel County Public Schools officials say the winter sports season, slated to kick off next week, will now start online.

Superintendent George Arlotto announced the change Wednesday during a Board of Education meeting. The Maryland high school winter sports season begins Dec. 7.

Arlotto said student-athletes can expect to meet with their coaches virtually, where they will watch film and receive at-home workouts.

The superintendent cited health department recommendations and the county’s COVID-19 case rate, which earlier this week hit 30.2 new cases per 100,000 residents. That’s nearly triple the number of cases per 100,000 compared to the start of the school year.

Arlotto added that winter sports would return in person “when COVID metrics allow,” although he did not specify those metrics.

“It’s a way of engaging,” Arlotto told board members. “It’s certainly not the same as of course as face-to-face practice but it’s a way of getting the students excited and getting them involved in interacting with their teammates and their coach at least in the online world until we can bring them together in person.”

Wednesday’s move to virtual winter sports comes nearly a month after Arlotto halted in-person fall sports in Anne Arundel County because of the coronavirus case rate.

At the time, the average number of new cases per 100,000 over a seven-day period was 21.3.

Neighboring Howard County also suspended in-person winter athletics this week, just before the Dec. 7 start date.

The two cancellations come after the Maryland State Board of Education gave the green light for a Dec. 7 start of in-person sports in October — when coronavirus case rates were steady.

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