After announcing Wednesday that all in-person athletic and extracurricular activities through January would be canceled due to the growing spread of COVID-19, Howard County schools reversed course Friday afternoon.
In a statement posted on its website, county headteachers said outdoor sports practices and games, theater and music rehearsals, tutoring sessions and field trips will all resume immediately with masking. required. On January 3, schools can resume indoor athletics practices, dance and music performances, and travel for extracurricular activities.
Activities will remain suspended in several schools where rates of virus spread are high. These are Oakland Mills, Hammond, and Mt. Hebron High Schools and Laurel Woods Elementary School.
The changes came after the school board met Thursday night and canceled Superintendent Michael J. Martirano. The board voted to restore activities under a plan Martirano was tasked with creating, which will include mandatory testing for students participating in athletics and drama. “This plan will be developed over the next week and communicated as soon as it is completed. Athletic competitions and theatrical performances will be allowed to resume once this plan is in place” after Jan. 3, the statement said.
Martirano had said Wednesday that he was suspending activities as he hoped to ensure the spread would not prevent him from keeping schools open. “This decision was made with that singular priority in mind,” he said.
As of Wednesday morning, more than 3,700 students in the 57,000 student system were in quarantine, alongside 146 staff members, according to the system’s dashboard. Some 300 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported this week. This is compared to the week before the Thanksgiving break, when 75 new cases were reported.