During the Howard County Board of Education meeting on August 18th the following written information was provided by HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Martirano on childcare services during his “SUPERINTENDENT REPORT AND COVID-19 UPDATE“:

Childcare

○  During recent Board meetings, Board members have engaged in public discussion about the need for more supports for families – particularly childcare. As you know, the urgent need for childcare across our county continues to be a top consideration and will impact the effectiveness of our virtual instructional solution this fall.

○  Last week, we announced arrangements with Howard County Recreation and Parks and Columbia Association to provide childcare in some of our school buildings. This is a tangible and real way to support our families that we will be able to deliver as long as all safety protocols are followed, daily school operations are not disrupted, and our virtual educational programs can be delivered without interference.

○  We recognize the critical need for childcare across the county, but must balance the reality of risks to health and safety for students, staff and families, which were the basis for opting for an all-virtual instruction model for the fall. We have agreed to accommodate space for 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.

○  Before we agreed to host some childcare opportunities in our buildings, Howard County Recreation and Parks and Columbia Association developed and submitted appropriate safety and health protocols for their programs that met standards set forth by the MSDE and the CDC. While HCPSS custodians are ultimately responsible for the buildings, the organizations will collaborate with our custodians and take primary responsibility for the cleaning of their areas.

○  We are also partnering with the Howard County Office of Children and Families and the Maryland State Department’s Office of Child Care Region 6 to survey child care programs in the county about the need for full-time school-age care this fall. The survey results will be used to assist families seeking child care for the fall and will support us in providing professional learning for licensed child care providers and licensed family child care providers who will be caring for school-age children.

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You can watch the meeting on August 18th here:  https://hcpsstv.new.swagit.com/videos/74804

There were a number of questions asked by Howard County Board of Education members during that meeting so be sure to watch the discussion if this is a topic of interest to you (childcare information begins at the 9:08 mark of the video).

I still have a number of my own questions this morning:

  • What specific spaces in the school will be utilized by Howard County Recreation and Parks and Columbia Association for these programs?
  • How much of the money raised by these programs will go back to the school system vs how much of the money will go to the organizations running the programs?
  • What entity is responsible to ensure the organizations are following COVID-19 guidelines in the schools related to these programs?
  • Scott Washington (HCPSS COO) mentions the use of 29 facilities for these programs (at the 25:26 mark of the video). My count based on what I have been able to obtain up to this point from HoCo Rec and Parks and Columbia Association is 26 schools (16 by Rec and Parks and 10 by CA). So I am interested to know what are the other three schools/facilities and which organization will use those facilities for their programs? Maybe it was just a mistake…or maybe other facilities will be used…I am curious which it is.

This is a topic of great interest to the community and something I will continue to try and track.

Scott E

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