CMS Will Open Fields To Community Groups, Some Team Workouts
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools says it will ease back into sports by allowing high school cross country and volleyball teams to begin workouts as early as Sept. 14.
District officials say they’ll see how that goes before deciding when to bring back high school athletes from other sports. Middle school athletics are suspended for first semester, with no workouts or competition allowed.
Meanwhile, starting next week, CMS will let community groups use the district’s outdoor fields for sports practices and baseball and softball games. Anyone using the fields must follow state health guidelines.
Some parents and school board members have been eager to see safe outdoor workouts resume. At a recent board meeting, one parent said student athletes have been organizing their own informal workouts, often in large groups without safe distancing. Sports advocates say the workouts will improve physical and mental health for participants.
Here's the full CMS statement:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools today announced a phased return to athletic workouts for student-athletes at CMS high school facilities beginning as early as Sept. 14, 2020.
The decision to adopt a phased approach for resumption of athletic activities included input from athletic directors and principals. The input was received both before and after the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s (NCHSAA) recent sports calendar changes. High school student-athletes’ return will be staggered, with sports teams returning based on the revised sport calendar announced by the NCHSAA and input from athletic directors and principals.
Cross Country and Volleyball will be the first high school sports to resume this fall, with workouts beginning as early as Sept. 14. After participants in these two sports return, CMS will evaluate readiness to bring back student-athletes from other sports. This evaluation period will include further input from athletic directors and principals and will guide how CMS moves forward with additional teams/sports resuming on-campus workouts.
CMS will provide future updates on when and which additional sports return to on-campus workouts.
In addition to the initial evaluation period upon resuming on-campus workouts, CMS will continue to monitor information such as statewide orders issued by NC Gov. Roy Cooper and Mecklenburg County health data as the district considers expanding the sports allowed to participate in on-campus skills development.
“We are pleased to announce a return to on-campus athletic activity for our high school student-athletes and staff,” said CMS Director of Athletics Sue Doran. “We understand the importance and impact of athletic participation and believe our phased approach will enable us to safeguard the health of everyone involved.”
CMS’ implementation will comply with NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and NCHSAA guidelines for enhanced safety measures and procedures for protecting student-athlete and staff health. Workouts will include such NCHSAA-mandated elements as limited numbers of student-athletes and staff allowed to gather at one time on athletic fields and inside facilities and restrictions on use of certain training and athletic equipment. Additional measures include mandatory social distancing procedures, wearing of protective face coverings, implementation of temperature checks and other health screenings, and more. NCHSAA guidance allows school districts to establish more restrictive procedures than those provided by NCHSAA but not less.
“CMS athletic directors, coaches, and staff are up-to-date on current health and safety guidelines and will be prepared to welcome our high school student-athletes back for skills development workouts under these guidelines,” said Doran.
Middle school athletics will not resume workouts or competition during the first semester, CMS also announced. The decision to postpone middle school athletics was based on several factors, among them funding challenges. Middle school sports depend upon high school athletics participation fees and a $1 surcharge; with NCHSAA postponing start dates for high school sports, funding availability will be delayed. Also, with CMS opening in an all-remote learning environment, middle school students would face challenges to get to campuses for athletics.
CMS also announced today that it will allow community use partners, extended use partners, and joint use partners to use outdoor athletic fields managed by the district.
Beginning Aug. 24, 2020, partners may use CMS’ outdoor facilities for baseball and softball games and practices. For all other outdoor sports and activities, only practices will be allowed until further notice. Community use partners must follow NCDHHS guidelines for such usage.
When CMS student-athletes return to workouts or competition, community use of CMS outdoor facilities will return to normal in-season restrictions for community use, with CMS student-athletes and teams having priority.
Further communication about specific requirements for community use of outdoor athletic facilities, such as requirements for enhanced cleaning and disinfection, will be shared with existing community use, extended use, and joint use partners by Friday, Aug. 21.
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