Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is revising participation plans for in-season high school sports, after-school arts, and several other extracurricular programs in alignment with the expiration of the three-week Mecklenburg County Health Department (MCPH) directive on Feb. 2.
High school swimmers and divers currently qualified for postseason regional competition will be eligible to participate in those events scheduled to begin Feb. 5.
In-season high school sports programs including basketball/cheer, women's and men's lacrosse, and men's soccer will resume competition, per North Carolina High School Athletic Association guidelines, on Feb. 8. Football will commence according to the NCHSAA season schedule on Feb. 8, as well. Out-of-season sports may resume skills development workouts no earlier than Feb. 15. Those sports may begin official practices on the dates listed in the approved NCHSAA 2020-2021 calendar.
In addition, some after-school high school arts activities will begin on Feb 8. These arts programs, including music, dance, and theater, will be offered on a voluntary basis, with parent permission required for student participation, and utilizing strict COVID protocols and safety practices aligned with those put in place for athletics. Decisions on live/virtual performances are under evaluation and will be communicated at a later date.
The decision also includes a return for JROTC in CMS schools that offer those programs. Students participating in JROTC may resume those activities on a voluntary basis. Details of return dates for JROTC will be communicated with students and families after discussions between principals and program advisors.
Other activities, such as speech and debate, remain under evaluation. Communication regarding these and other extracurricular programs will be shared as decisions are made.
"The COVID pandemic has caused us to make many difficult decisions this school year, and pausing athletics and delaying the start of many arts and other enrichment programs are among the most painstaking," said CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston. "Extracurricular programs are vital to the social and emotional health of our students. With confidence that community conditions have improved, we are pleased to resume athletic practices and competition and to begin offering arts students the opportunity to participate in after-school activities."
CMS places health and safety as a top priority and continues to consider the best interests of students in every decision. Current rates of community spread indicate a return to these activities is viable. District leadership will continue to work with local public health officials to monitor health metrics at the community level, and will follow district procedures for tracking metrics at the school and team/program levels; worsening public health metrics could force a renewed pause in activities or a delay in starting those sports and activities yet to begin.
CMS principals and athletic directors were provided direction earlier this week emphasizing the importance for all coaches, advisors and students leading and participating in extracurricular activities to comply fully with all procedures and protocols in place to protect health and safety. Failure to comply with safety measures also will result in delays or cancellation of activities.
"We want these activities to continue without interruption but making that happen is the responsibility of leaders and participants. We must practice the three Ws and follow all guidelines – all the time, without lapses," said Winston.