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Message from the Superintendent: Coronavirus Preparedness Information and Resources

March 9th, 2020

The following update was sent to the HCPSS community by Superintendent Michael Martirano on March 9, 2020:

As the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID–19) becomes more prevalent in the United States and now in Maryland, Howard County residents are understandably seeking assurances from local leaders that they are prepared for every conceivable possibility and everything possible is being done to protect the residents in our county. Please know that HCPSS staff are dedicating significant efforts to collaborating with local, state and federal agencies to provide the most accurate information and informed guidance to residents and leaders in the county as possible.

We have been closely collaborating with the Howard County Health Department (HCHD) on communication and response preparation, and those efforts have been enhanced following the news of multiple confirmed COVID–19 cases in Maryland. At this time, we are fully operational and HCPSS schools and scheduled activities will continue until a change is deemed necessary by local and state health professionals.

Last week, leaders from HCPSS, HCHD, the Howard County Office of Emergency Management, Maryland state government and the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security participated in an extensive tabletop exercise in order to practice HCPSS’ Emergency Operations Plan and Infectious Disease Response Annex that will guide our actions should COVID–19 directly impact Howard County schools. It was a very thorough exercise that challenged our assumptions, forced participants to consider many unknowns, and aggressively tested the plan that will be implemented if local response is warranted.

The best thing we can do at this point is to remain informed and prepared to deal with any situation that arises. With so many variables, it will be critical for all agencies and offices involved to make decisions that prioritize the safety of our staff and students. Preparation and planning, regular collaboration across county and state agencies, regular and thorough communication with county residents, and the implementation of stringent preventative measures are key to ensuring we are ready to respond appropriately as needed.

One of the many strengths of Howard County is the collective and collaborative nature in which we operate to overcome challenges or hardships in our communities. Our response to COVID–19 is no different. We will continue to work together and regularly share information and resources to ensure our schools and families are prepared for this evolving situation. Additionally, we will continue providing updates to the community to keep you informed and prepared.

Updates related to COVID–19 can be found on the Health Department’s website, and those related to the school system can be found on the HCPSS website. Additionally, here are a few important information items and guidance to help keep you informed and activated.

Information Updates and Guidance

Howard County is a resilient community and able to confront any challenge that comes before us. You have our commitment that our focus during this concerning time is on preparation and informing our communities of any updates or critical information.