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Most of the D.C. area’s school districts will start virtually. That’s a bad sign on the optics of professional sports this winter.

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Most school districts will open virtually only to start the 2020-21 school year for at least the first quarter, or nine-week period. That should keep you pessimistic about sports coming back to normal anytime soon.

Loudoun County School Closed Due to Coronavirus Fears
Schools in the DMV will remain closed for virtual learning for the most part this fall.
Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

This is the strangest summer I’ve ever experienced. I don’t have children of my own yet, so I don’t mind working longer hours before having a vacation in the fall while the weather is still temperate and when flight prices are often quite reasonable.

But today, we live in the era of COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has ended life as we know it. Sports will resume later this month and the Wizards will have a scrimmage later today. But again, we won’t see fans in the stands.

Usually in July, I would start seeing “back to school” commercials. Remember this by Staples back in the 20th Century?

Instead, most of you who are parents will be seeing your school age kids at home, even after the school year starts. I complied a list of the local PUBLIC school districts in the D.C. area, and nearly everyone will start the school year online. That list is below.

List of DC area school districts and how they will open in 2020-21

District State Status for 2020-21 School Start Date
District State Status for 2020-21 School Start Date
District of Columbia DC Decision coming on July 31 Monday, August 31, 2020
Fairfax County VA Virtual learning only for first quarter Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Loudoun County VA Virtual learning only for fall semester Thursday, August 27, 2020
Prince William County VA Virtual learning only for first quarter Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Arlington County VA Virtual learning to begin school year Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Falls Church City VA No official decision yet, but virtual start likely Monday, August 24, 2020
Alexandria City VA Decision coming soon Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Manassas Park City VA Virtual opening Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Manassas City VA Virtual opening Monday, August 31, 2020
Montgomery County MD Virtual learning only for fall semester Monday, August 31, 2020
Prince George's County MD Virtual learning only for fall semester Monday, August 31, 2020
Charles County MD Virtual learning to begin school year Monday, August 31, 2020
Frederick County MD Decision coming soon Monday, August 31, 2020
Anne Arundel County MD Virtual learning only for fall semester Tuesday, September 8, 2020

For those of you who live outside of the D.C. area or the United States, you may be wondering why there are more Virginia school districts than Maryland ones. At a very high level, Virginia has a high number of independent cities like Alexandria, Manassas, etc. that have their own school districts.

These cities are also not part of any county. Essentially, that makes these cities the equivalent of counties, since they have their own boundaries, schools, law enforcement, fire fighters, etc. Maryland school districts are all at the county level.

So Albert, what is your point sharing school start dates and a basketball blog?

I have two points sharing this information.

First, you may be genuinely interested knowing whether your local school district is closed for in-person learning this fall, especially as restaurants have opened for in-person dining and more in recent weeks. And again, the NBA, WNBA, MLS, NHL and MLB are all going to play games in August.

The second point is this, I think every school district in the D.C. area will be closed for in-person learning this fall. And considering that viruses, including this novel coronavirus tend to spread faster in the winter time, I honestly believe that school will be closed for the entire year.

And that leads me to sports as a whole.

While the 2019-20 NBA season is expected to resume next week, let’s keep in mind that the 2020-21 NBA season is scheduled to start in December. That’s right when flu and virus season is expected to unleash the fury once again (sorry Capitals for the pun, but it wasn’t intended.)

Since nearly every school district in the area is closed for in person learning, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see ANY fall high school sports, or even college sports. In fact, that’s already happened to a good extent in Virginia, especially with high school football. And in Maryland, Montgomery County cancelled both fall AND winter sports.

As you might expect, the recent surge in coronavirus cases here in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. are. a major reason why school districts are doing an about face on hybrid learning options for next school year. Given the timing of the second semester and our poor handling of the coronavirus as Americans, I’m going to bet that ALL schools in the area will be online only for the 2020-21 school year. So there won’t be homecoming dances. There won’t be sports or marching band practices. And certainly no proms.

I hate to sound so pessimistic about it all. But so far, things are turning out about as bad as I feared when the pandemic started closing down American society last March.

And all of that leads me to sports.

How can we expect professional sports to go on normally, or even in a bubble environment in a hotspot like Florida when we as a society shut it down for the youth?

I get that in Korea or European Union member states like Belgium and Germany, schools are open again. These countries also either had strong virus mitigation methods in the beginning (Korea) or had enough collectivism in their societies to bring it under control again in the EU’s case.

In America, individualism is what defined us since colonial times. And that seems to be our Achilles heel getting this virus under control.

And because numbers are spiking nationwide, I’m not sure how the optics of having professional sports this winter can be positively received. December seems like a long time away, but it’ll be here before we know it. And even if the NBA bubble doesn’t burst this summer, it’s far from a guarantee that we’ll see the same again in the winter.