Rising COVID-19 cases prompt changes to high school winter sports across the DC region

The winter sports season is underway in schools across the D.C. region -- and with COVID-19 cases rising -- there are new protocols in place for many athletic programs.

Montgomery County has revised their winter sports COVID policy requiring basketball players and wrestlers who are not actively participating or are on the bench to wear their masks.

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All spectators are required to wear face coverings indoors at all times. Spectators will be spaced away from team benches and are being asked to exit the facility immediately after the games and not to gather outside.

FOX 5's Melanie Alwick says recent outbreaks at Paint Branch, Poolesville, Magruder, and Blake preceded the policy changes. Also, under the new guidance, Alnwick says if there are five or more active cases on a school sports team -- all activities -- including games and practices will be put on hold for that team for 14 days from the date of the last known exposure.

On Wednesday, Howard County canceled all HCPSS athletic contests and many extracurricular activities due to rising COVID-19 cases. They are expected to provide an update later today.