Yesterday two articles on this blog outlined the use of 26 elementary schools in Howard County for child care services during this upcoming school year (16 public schools by Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks and 10 public schools by Columbia Association). I had sent an email with a few questions to the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) early on and they responded last night with the following:
Again, sorry for the delay. As you can imagine things stack up quickly each day as we continue preparing for the fall semester.
Members of the Board of Education have engaged in public discussion during their meetings about the need to provide more supports to families. The Board and Dr. Martirano understand that childcare considerations top the list for many families. Dr. Martirano fully supports opportunities to allow Howard County Recreation and Parks and other HCPSS partners to provide childcare as it is a tangible and real way to support our families as long as all safety protocols are followed, there are no disruptions to our daily school operations and there is no interference to the delivery of our virtual educational program.
Additionally, we are balancing the critical need of childcare across the county with the purpose for opting for virtual instruction this fall – to ensure the health and safety of our students, families and staff. We have agreed to a limited – and what we believe to be a manageable – childcare program under the circumstances and will continually assess the program for opportunities in the future.
Here are responses to the questions that you provided.
I am curious if you could look into the use of HCPSS elementary schools by Howard County Recreation and Parks for child care services (see screenshots below)?
We are working with Howard County Recreation and Parks (HCRP) and other organizations to providing child care services. This was the direction from the Superintendent to work with County Government and others to assist working families who need the support.
HCRP issued a release yesterday that provides some details about what has been worked on for them continuing to provide child care in some HCPSS buildings.
While in discussion with HCRP for this opportunity, the educational needs of the school system remained the priority. Considerations had to include preparation for possible in-person small group opportunities to support special education supports and other instruction later in the fall, and being sure teachers had access to classrooms for those who want to teach from their school facility.
I am curious who in HCPSS makes the approval for the use of these schools? When will that approval be made (or has it already been made)?
The approvals are under the jurisdiction of the Superintendent and come through the HCPSS Division of Operations through Community Use of Facilities. The HCPSS Chief Operating Officer and Operations staff have been in regular contact with HCRP and other county organizations to collaborate and provide a plan for the superintendent to consider. The Board of Education has been kept informed of the process and decisions.
I am also curious who is responsible for the cleaning of the schools used for this service (county government or HCPSS)?
Before agreeing to host some childcare opportunities in our buildings, HCRP (and any other organizations) had to develop and submit appropriate safety and health protocols for their programs.
While HCPSS custodians are ultimately responsible for the buildings, the organizations will take responsibility for the cleaning of their areas.
As far as Columbia Association, we are in discussion with them about providing some space for childcare and are following the same process that we did with HCRP.
I want to thank staff from HCPSS for sending me answers last night. If at times I note those that never respond I should thank those that do…so again…thanks HCPSS.
If the school system or others provide additional information about these services prior to September 8th, I will try and document that information here on the blog. I will specifically be looking out for the cost of services by Columbia Association (since that has not been reported yet on their website).
I do hope we get more information from those running the programs (Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks and Columbia Association) or from the school system. There are still outstanding questions like what specific spaces will be used at each school, what is the total number of students that will be in the two programs, what food options are available for those students attending the programs and other questions that maybe I have not asked up to this point. More information for the community is always best.
If you see anything that you think I should know about…feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).