New Protocols Introduced for Winter Sports


Malaak McDonald

Students play basketball during the school day while wearing masks at all times. Stringent COVID-19 protocols are expected to continue as sports move indoors for the winter.

The Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) winter sports season is slated to begin this December, with some adaptations to ensure the health of all the coaches, athletes, and spectators involved. 

Vaccines are required for all eligible student-athletes. Medical exemptions are allowed, but religious exemptions are not.

At this point in the year, it’s too early to make decisive calls about how the winter season will go, but there are some broad plans in place. Everyone is to wear a mask at all times, except for instances like during certain cheerleading stunts.

More protocols will be implemented when safety regulations are clear. However, a lot can happen before tryouts, starting Nov. 15, and between then and the official season’s start in December.

“The issue is everyone wants the answer now, which I get. I want the answer now, too, so I can plan for it,” athletic director Michael Hayes said. 

Once the county can give more definite information, Rockville High School’s athletic department can decide how to meet protocols. 

“There’s no sense in trying to come up with all these creative things, we don’t know what the barriers are yet,” Hayes said.

Students must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15 in order to try out. In order to be fully vaccinated by then, a final COVID vaccine should be received by Nov. 1.

The Maryland Department of Health and State Board of Education’s joint COVID-19 guidance allows for school systems to implement their protocols, and the MCPS vaccine mandate complies with that. 

One of the core values of the MCPS athletics department, per the MCPS athletics website, is “Spirited & Safe Competition.” MCPS has been working to continue to hold sports in a way that upholds that value. 

“I, myself, am going to follow every protocol that’s passed to me,” said Hayes. “This isn’t a place to embark [sic] our opinion.”