The Howard County Board of Education voted 5 – 2 in favor of the Howard County Public School System to remain in a virtual learning environment for the third quarter of the 2020-2021 school year.

There were attempts to delay a decision on the hybrid model or relook at various other hybrid models (both of those motions failed) before a vote to reject the currently proposed hybrid model presented by HCPSS.

Here are the published votes from the motions during the work session this afternoon/evening:

According to the HCPSS 2020-2021 calendar the End of 3rd marking period is April 14th.

You can watch the full meeting here:

Here is a post from Dr. Chao Wu (HoCoBOE Board Member):

Tonight, HCPSS board moved to remain virtual for quarter three and continue on with enhancements and expansion of student groups and considering staff preferences.

I voted NO on this decision. I really hoped that we could allow the superintendent to take some extra time and create a plan which matches the student needs and staff availability using more accurate data, which may start a hybrid plan as early as next February if the safety metrics is met. If the pandemic continues to be bad next February, the metrics will not be met and no in-person instruction will start at all.

Unfortunately, it was voted down. The metrics we approved several weeks ago was thrown away. We failed to even try to create a hybrid plan unfortunately.

Here is a post from Christina Delmont-Small (HoCoBOE Member):

The Board of Education’s number one focus must be the education of our students and their safe return to buildings where they can receive an education in person from a teacher.

I’m very disappointed that the majority of the Board voted this evening to remain virtual through the third quarter. At a prior meeting, the Board established metrics based on input from medical and public health experts to guide when it would be safe to return students and staff to our schools. This evening’s vote neutered that vote and the metrics, and ignores science that so many have insisted we use when making decisions.

Tonight’s meeting is an example of the Board tying the hands of the Superintendent to do the job he was hired to do – educate our students. The Superintendent repeatedly asked the Board for flexibility and latitude to develop a model to bring students back into the buildings. Unfortunately, the Board majority seems more intent on limiting the Superintendent than providing him the framework for our students to return safely to our buildings.

Please continue to share your ideas to improve the education of our students. I know many of you are very discouraged, but we need your voices now more than ever.

If other board members provide public statements (and I see them) I will update this article.

Scott E


  1. Anybody surprised? The BoE can’t get out of the way if their political agendas instead of using data to make decisions. Then our wonderful superintendent set the conscious BoE members up by having them vote on a hybrid model having teachers doubled tapped and 1st graders responsible for bringing laptops to school. This BoE and superintendent are absolute jokes but the joke is on us.

  2. I am a teacher, though, not with HCPSS currently, but was once. I moved way several years ago but still like to keep track of things locally. I am teaching in person, please let me tell you just a little about why it is a terrible idea to go back to in person schooling.

    In general, the experience is not very pleasant and honestly quite stressful. I subscribe to the airmask on a plane rule – that is, if you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot take care of others. I know that many teachers share this burden, wanting to put kids first, but their social and emotional systems are overloaded. We don’t have the energy to give.

    At my school, teachers are being forced to teach with the worst pedagogical methods because of the rules of social distancing and the limits of our classroom geography. For example, because we cannot get near the kids, nor to each other, we are compelled to stand up in front of the room and lecture. My desks are in rows and columns, straight out of the 1950s. The classroom geography means you can’t walk among the desks – to help a student or make sure they’re not watching Netflix on some other tab. The result of this social distancing there is no collaboration or discussions. Incidentally, both of which we can (and did in the Spring with great success) remotely. Additionally, we have students webcamming into class because their families made a personal decision to keep them at home or subject to an enforced quarantine. These virtual students cannot hear their classmates, they can barely even see them. As a teacher, I often find myself talking into my laptop webcam instead of the class just to make sure they are included. This bimodal learning compounds an already difficult classroom experience, making it damn nearly impossible to ensure you are reaching every kid.

    The worst part, though, is knowing that the kids and their families are not following the district’s community guidelines. Every Monday, you hear about parties, travel sports teams, trips out of the area. Despite a daily health checklist, parents are fibbing and sending their kids (oh, it’s just a cold) to school anyway. Seemingly, the only people who are following the rules are the teachers. I have had two vacations and a wedding anniversary get-away cancelled, because they would violate the district’s travel policy. I haven’t seen my elderly and ill parents in over a year. Everyone in my social circle is working from home, and I am the only one with continually exposed risk. Consequently, and by joint agreement, we do not even see our little bubble anymore. The social isolation is really tough to handle when I see other community members having such little regard for – well – our community.

    I am sorry to hear that HCPSS did a terrible job in the spring; they were unprepared. I blame that on leadership, not the teachers. But now, I hear from friends with kids in the system, and they are doing a much better job. Absolutely, it is not a replacement for in school learning. Every teacher would choose to be in front of a live audience and see their kids. But I see no other alternatives. HCPSS can’t reduce class sizes, redesign lunch, or give every kid a device and a hotspot. So while it is regrettable that HCPSS won’t return until April, I am envious. My school is still in session, having disregarded the “tripwire” numbers that the administration told us this summer would result in a closure.

    So anyone who thinks school should be back in person is welcome to cover my indoor lunch and recess on the next cold rainy day and see what it’s like… Oh yeah, because I won’t eat my lunch in a room with unmasked 25 kids. Most days, I have to skip it.

Comments are closed.