After seeing a number of photos posted online recently showing a significant number of elected officials at events around Howard County it got me wondering…when would the Howard County Council begin meeting in person again and when would those meetings be open to the public?

Here are some of the photos I have seen on social media or press releases that got me wondering:

Groundbreaking for the Howard Community College Mathematics and Athletic Facility (June 16th):


Sheppard Pratt opening (June 17th):

Bauder Education Center in Long Reach Village Center (June 17th)

After seeing those images I thought to myself…that is a bunch of elected officials (and others) that are unmasked and really close together. I am guessing they are all vaccinated at this point (As of June 14th over 75% of adults in Howard County are fully vaccinated and 82% of adults 18+ had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot in Howard County). Given those facts…when would we start seeing in person meetings again?

I first went to the Howard County Council website to see if there was any information on returning to in person meetings…spoiler alert…there is not any information on returning to in person meetings (that I could find).

So next I reached out to a few Councilmembers or staff of Councilmembers that have been responsive to the Blog in the past. Here is what I have learned:

The County Executive announced that as of Monday, August 2, 2021 all County buildings will be opened. Visitors will be allowed in the building. However, as the Council is in recess the month of August, in person public meetings will begin Tuesday, September 7th.

Thank you,
Michelle R. Harrod
Howard County Government
Administrator to the County Council

(Note – I have learned that the announcement about August 2nd was an internal announcement to County Government employees)

I also obtained information relating to “County Council Reopening Plan”. Here is some of what that plan states (as it relates to this topic):

  • Monday, June 21, 2021: Council Administrative Staff will return on-site with daily staffing levels not to exceed 50% capacity. Exception to capacity level will be for two monthly staff meeting to be held in person in the CVG or Banneker Room to allow for sufficient social distancing. Accommodations will be made for employees needing to care for younger children or older adults and provided time to arrange child care or summer programs. 

Council Meetings remain virtual but allow in person participation for Councilmembers and staff.

  • Monday, July 12, 2021: County Administrative Staff continue at 50% capacity. Government buildings open to visitors on-site by appointment. The Bureau of Facilities is working to add a visitor management system in our buildings. Demonstration will be provided to Council, June 9, 2021 during the Council’s June Monthly Meeting.  Training will be provided to all staff to ensure visitors can be pre-registered for entry into the building.

Council Meetings remain virtual but allow in person participation for Councilmembers and staff.

  • Monday, August 2, 2021: County Executive reopens all Government buildings. Council Administrative Staff will return on-site at 100% capacity. Those approved for telework will continue with their Summer Schedule.

Council Meetings remain virtual but allow in person participation for Councilmembers, staff and County employees.

  • Tuesday, September 7, 2021: Council Meetings to be held in person for Councilmembers, staff, County employees, and for public participation. A virtual option will be made available for members of the public unable to attend sessions in person.

Council Administrative Staff will continue on-site at 100% capacity. Those approved for telework will switch to their Regular Schedule.

If I am reading this plan correctly it looks like Councilmembers could begin meeting in person again right away. I would expect that some will…the question is will they all take advantage of meeting in person opportunity now and continue the virtual option with the public or will some continue to choose to stay virtual? To me if it is safe enough to attend the type of events seen in the photos above there should be no reason to avoid in person Council meetings (just my opinion).

The public will be allowed to return to Council meetings in September. That seems like a LONG time from now given where we are in the state and especially in Howard County in terms of COVID-19 data.

What are your thoughts on the plan to return to normal operations for the Howard County Council?

I will keep an eye out for statements from Councilmembers about the upcoming plan to return to in person meetings and meetings with the public. If I see (or are sent) significant statements I will be sure to provide updates to my readers.

Scott E


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