Gov. Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon are allowing high school sports to come back to Maryland. Their latest COVID-19 order allows high school sports come back in early October. Hogan’s plan allows practices to start as soon as Oct. 7 and most sports to start having games on Oct. 27.

“Getting our kids back on the playing field and allowing youth sports to resume this fall is critical for the social and mental well-being of our students,” Hogan said. “Now that all 24 jurisdictions have submitted plans to resume in-person instruction, allowing fall sports to begin next month marks another important step on our road to recovery.”

We cannot agree more.

Maryland’s COVID-19 numbers continue to improve with low positivity rates for tests.

A number of conservatives are touting U.S. Centers for Disease Control numbers showing a 99.997% survival rate for those ages 0 to 19 if they contract COVID. The survival rates are 99.98% for those ages 20 to 49 and 99.5% for those 50 to 69.

The COVID-19 survival rate is 94.6% for those 70 years old and older.

These numbers should not get lost in the politics of the coronavirus.

The reality is COVID-19 is still a serious concern for seniors, for those with pre-existing conditions and in settings such as nursing homes. This is why we continue to wear masks and social distance when needed.

But for young people the impacts of COVID-19 are very different.

Hogan is right we need to continue to get back to some sense of normalcy for the economy and jobs and our collective mental health.

The Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Ravens and the no-name Washington Football Team are all playing. Big Ten football is coming back.

We know high schools and school districts do not have the same kind of resources.

A reboot of high school sports is important to our communities especially on the Eastern Shore. It needs to be done responsibly and with contingency plans if pandemic conditions change.

But we have also seen some school districts and teachers unions use the pandemic as a political power play. Those efforts are most evident when the governor happens to be a Republican or there is a chance to criticize President Donald Trump.

Hogan’s high school sports move puts the ball in school districts’ court. They will be the ones fielding calls and social media campaigns from students and the parents and grandparents of high school athletes.

We often hear from local governments and school districts how they do not want Annapolis or Washington (especially the Trump administration) telling them what to do.

Hogan’s orders on reopening schools and now bringing back high school sports outlines some parameters and COVID-19 indicators for districts to follow. The power is in local hands.

Unfortunately, we do see some school districts, some teachers unions and some advocates who simply do not want to reopen no matter what. This applies to high school sports, bringing kids back to classrooms and having visitors come to the Shore.

Maybe, they are focused on impacts of COVID-19 and protecting seniors and those with pre-existing conditions. It could be the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic has them frozen in place. But it could also be politics and our collective penchant to line up on side of an issue or another.

We hope school districts have been working on plans for how and when to restart high school sports and other activities.

The COVID-19 pandemic is still a concern and we need to be flexible if cases increase.

But the overall situation in Maryland has been getting better. The governor has allowed restaurants to expand their capacity and has now given local districts the path to bring back high school sports.

It is a path they should embrace and follow.

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