March 24, 2021

New Board of Health Regulation Updates Guidance on County Youth Activities, Allowing High School Football and Other Sports to Have Abbreviated Spring Seasons

Montgomery County high schools can have an abbreviated football spring football season, and spring seasons for other sports, after the County Council, sitting as the Board of Health, unanimously approved a regulation to provide new guidance for sports.

The goal of the updated guidance is to allow young people to play competitive sports, while taking the proper public health precautions. The new Board of Health regulation removes the “risk classifications” for different sports while maintaining public health measures.

Instead of evaluating different sports by risk category, all organized sports played indoors or outdoors must obtain a COVID-19 Protocol Plan approved by the County health officer or a designee. Each plan must include:
  • A contact tracing component with an attendance tracking sheet that must be completed for all activities.
  • A requirement that face coverings are worn as provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • A commitment to maintain social distancing of at least six feet between all participants to the extent possible.
  • A requirement for the use of a student attestation form or a COVID-19 athlete or coach monitoring form at all activities.
An organized sports league that was approved to operate under a prior Board of Health regulation, and was not previously classified as high risk, does not need to develop a new COVID Protocol Plan for any event that complies with gathering limits and restrictions.

Under the original regulation adopted, sports played outside of an organized league are permitted with a maximum of 50 people for outdoor sports and a maximum of 25 people for indoor sports. Face coverings must be worn whenever social distancing is not possible.

The health officer or the officer’s designee may approve a COVID Protocol Plan that includes more than 50 spectators for an event if the officer finds that the plan provides for reasonable safety for all participants.

However, the Council on Friday, March 26, will consider updates to the adopted regulation. Those updates would include:

The updated regulation would allow two spectators per participating athlete at a sports event up to a maximum of 50 spectators if:
  • The site has a barrier to delineate the area for spectators from the area for the participating athletes and coaches.
  • The area for the spectators is large enough to provide for social distancing between all spectators from different households.
  • All spectators wear face coverings and practice social distancing of at least six feet.
If approved by the Council, the amended Board of Health regulation would be effective on Tuesday, April 2.

The new Board of Health regulation can be viewed here.