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The following statement was issued by Howard County Public School System Superintendent Michael Martirano on January 29, 2021:

I want to share an update on planning that is underway following the unexpected announcement made last week by the Governor and State Superintendent about hybrid instruction. Immediately following that announcement, staff worked quickly to develop and refine a hybrid model. On January 26, the Board of Education approved a hybrid model and implementation timeline.

The dates for students whose parents opt for them to return in person are:

  • Week of March 1: Students identified for a 5-days-per-week program (including, but not limited to students receiving Special Education services, those who were identified for the HCPSS small group program earlier in the year, and others as identified by school administrators) return to school
  • Week of March 15: Students in grades prekindergarten, Kindergarten, 1 and 2 return to school
  • Week of March 29: Students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12, and those who participate in Career and Technical Education at ARL return to school
  • Week of April 12: Students in grades 7, 8, 10 and 11 return to school

To prepare for this transition, HCPSS requests that parents/guardians complete a two-question survey by 4 p.m., Friday, February 5, with your decision:

  • The type of instructional model – hybrid or fully virtual – that you choose for your child
  • Whether bus service will be used, for children who are eligible for this service
    • If your child is designated as a walker, transportation will not be provided. View the School Bus Locator for your child’s transportation eligibility. PLEASE NOTE: Pickup times and bus stop locations are being updated and are subject to change. At this time, the School Bus Locator should only be used to determine if your child receives transportation services.
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To complete the form:

  1. Log in to HCPSS Connect
  2. Select More Options from the left panel
  3. Select “In-Person Commitment” from the middle of the page
  4. Complete the questions in the form for each child and select “Save”

I have received many emails from parents and guardians expressing strong views both in favor of, or opposing the State mandate, and I want you to know that I understand and empathize with all your concerns. I urge you to view the preliminary comments I made at the start of the January 25 Board work session, which provide additional clarity and clear up misunderstandings and misinformation that have been circulating in our community.

We all want our children to be back in classrooms as soon as possible. At the same time, I wholeheartedly understand the mixed emotions that accompany the State’s mandate, and realize that not all families will choose to send their children back in-person. All families will continue to have an option to continue virtual learning through at least the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.

For those of you who will be sending your children back in-person, I assure you that we will be prepared to welcome them back into a safe and supportive environment. I commend and thank the many remarkable staff members who have been working in our buildings throughout the pandemic. This includes our wonderful teams and individuals from food services, technology, school administration, custodial, grounds, building maintenance and many others, including central office and special education staff providing in-person supports. Many teachers have been teaching from their classrooms or working in offices as well. Instructional and support staff will continue to return to buildings in order to prepare for the start of in-person instruction at designated times.

There is still much work to do and many challenges to overcome prior to our first group of students returning in-person March 1. You will continue to receive information and updates as we progress through this process.

My love and gratitude extend to the entire HCPSS community as we navigate this uncertain road together. Please remain engaged with me, the Board of Education and your school administrators and teachers to ensure that your children are receiving the supports needed during this trying time.

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Scott E