A group of football coaches for Montgomery County Public Schools is asking the Maryland county to allow opportunities for in-person workouts.
Twenty-four members of the Montgomery County Public School Football Coaches Association signed a letter to County Executive Marc Elrich and the school board, asking them to allow the schools’ athletic department to provide conditioning and skills-and-drills workouts for student-athletes.
“Athletes who participate in football have essentially been left to fend for themselves as it relates to training and skill development,” the letter said.
— MOCO Public School Football Coaches Association (@MocoPublic) October 12, 2020
Montgomery County student-athletes have been sidelined since March, when the coronavirus pandemic necessitated schools to switch to online learning, which continued at the start of the fall semester.
There is still no date set for students in the county to return to their classrooms.
“It’s going to take a tremendous amount of planning and logistical building of systems and structures in order to open schools,” school Superintendent Jack Smith told the school board last week.
The coaches cited social, mental and emotional health as benefits to gathering in person for practice, as well as decreasing risk of injury when the athletes are scheduled to resume play in the spring.
They said that not all families are able to afford personal trainers, gym memberships and workout equipment, and some student-athletes may be left behind.
“Training is becoming ‘pay-to-play.’ Outside groups are practicing, working out, running camps, and playing games on MCPS fields,” they said.
In addition to allowing in-person training, the association is asking to use the protocols created by the MCPS Athletics COVID-19 Task Force.
“We support the COVID-19 Task Force for MCPS Athletics and their efforts as they continue to develop plans that will enable students, coaches and staff to safely return (to) in-person athletic activities when conditions in the county allow. Dr. Gayles and Dr. Stoddard meet with MCPS on a bi-weekly basis to provide feedback and guidance on their reopening plans,” Barry Hudson, a spokesperson for the county executive, said in statement.
Montgomery County schools spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said that at this time, MCPS Athletics will continue operating virtually as outlined in the school system’s framework for virtual athletics.
Below is the rest of her statement:
The COVID-19 Task Force for MCPS Athletics will continue planning efforts for the safe return of in-person activities, when health metrics allow and in alignment with MCPS operations and the return of students to in-person learning. The task force includes representation from the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services to ensure we are following the most current and safe protocols and procedures.
MCPS understands the importance of student participation in athletics and extracurricular activities and is committed to returning to the in-person delivery of these programs. MCPS will continue to monitor information and guidance regarding the administration of interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities and provide updates as appropriate.
Football coaches throughout the state held a rally in September in Annapolis urging lawmakers to let student-athletes play.
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