FCPS Announces Plan for Athletics to Begin March 1

FCPS Announces Plan for Athletics to Begin March 1
Posted on 01/05/2021
Frederick County Public SchoolsFor Immediate Release
January 5, 2021
Contact: Steve Edwards, Coordinator of Policy and Communications
540-662-3888 ext. 88235

Frederick County Public Schools has announced a plan for high school athletics designed to promote health and safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic while providing student-athletes the opportunity to represent their schools and compete during the 2020-21 school year.

The Return to Activities Plan enables students at each of Frederick County’s three high schools to compete in revised fall, winter and spring sports seasons. The winter season will begin March 1 and conclude March 27. Winter sports will include boys’ and girls’ basketball, sideline cheerleading, boys’ and girls’ swimming, and wrestling. The fall season will be held from March 29 through April 24. Fall sports will include sideline/competition cheerleading, boys’ and girls’ cross country, golf, football and volleyball. The spring season, which aligns with the Virginia High School League’s revised spring season, will begin April 26 and conclude June 16. Spring sports include baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girl’s tennis, and outdoor track. Instead of participating in indoor track during the winter season, each of Frederick County’s three high schools will engage in extended cross country and outdoor track seasons.

Schools Superintendent David Sovine says, “A great deal of thought, collaboration and planning has gone into the development of our Return to Activities Plan. Although all of us are anxiously awaiting the time when we can begin to return to normal, we are still in the midst of the pandemic with cases of COVID-19 continuing to increase. Although the distribution of vaccines has provided a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s prudent to delay the start of our high school athletic programs until March 1 in an effort to get beyond any spike in COVID-19 cases following the holiday season. The decision to begin athletic programs on March 1 comes after consulting with all of our high school principals, coordinators of student activities, local public health professionals, and the school division’s health and safety committee. Although no plan is perfect, our Return to Activities Plan will provide all high school students with the opportunity to represent their school and compete this year. Health and safety protocols will be adhered to throughout each of the seasons in an effort to keep our students, coaches, officials and any spectators that may be allowed at events safe. Although it’s likely we will encounter disruptions to the planned seasons due to COVID-19, we are committed to providing our students with the opportunity to safely engage in athletic competition.”

Due to differences in the athletic seasons established by the Virginia High School League (VHSL) and Frederick County Public Schools, FCPS teams competing in the revised winter and fall seasons will not be eligible to participate in VHSL postseason play. However, teams competing in the spring season will be eligible for the VHSL playoffs.

Sovine says, “Ideally, all of our teams would be able to participate in VHSL postseason play if they qualified. However, the revised VHSL schedule does not allow for that if our winter and fall seasons don’t open prior to March 1. Although the decision to delay opening athletic seasons until March 1 was difficult to make and will prevent some teams from participating in postseason competition, I believe our plan provides our students with the best chance to successfully complete each of the three seasons with limited interruptions due to COVID-19. Our plan also gives those teams competing in the spring season, who lost the opportunity to play last year, the chance to compete and participate in VHSL postseason play this year as was the case for our fall and winter teams prior to schools shutting down last spring due to the pandemic.”

At the present time, Frederick County Public Schools does not plan to allow spectators to attend any indoor athletic events. As an alternative, the school division is working to make such events available via a livestream over the Internet. A limited number of spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor events in compliance with the school division’s health and safety plan, any executive orders that are in place at the time the events are held and guidance provided by the local health department. A decision regarding middle school interscholastic athletic programs will be made and shared with middle school students and their families within the next two weeks.