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HCPSS School Closure Daily Update: March 23, 2020

March 23rd, 2020

The following update was sent to the HCPSS community by Superintendent Michael Martirano on March 23, 2020:

As we begin our second week of our school closure, I wanted to reach out to you about our plans as we continue through what may be an extended period of closure.

As I mentioned in my message to you on Friday, we have been preparing for continuity for learning for several weeks, anticipating the likelihood of an extended school closure. I encourage you to review that message for additional background regarding our planning and some of the challenges our plans must address. This week, we will be providing expanded learning resources for student use at home, which will build on the materials sent home on March 13 and help bridge the gap to the continuity for learning plan currently under development. Like the resources shared previously, these expanded materials are intended for skill reinforcement and enrichment, and will not be collected or graded. They will be posted on the HCPSS Continuity for Learning website later this week and printed copies will be made available to families who may not be able to access the documents online. Copies will be available for pick-up at meal distribution locations. Additional information will be provided once these resources are completed.

Even during this difficult time, we are continuing to take care of our students. I am pleased to share that HCPSS Food Services staff have already prepared and distributed 28,017 meals to HCPSS students and Howard County children since last week. I appreciate all of the efforts of staff in providing nutritious meals so our children may continue to receive the nourishment needed to stay healthy and active while at home. Additionally, HCPSS Operations staff continue the process of thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting our schools and offices so students and staff are able to return to a healthy environment when the time comes. This process is already 71% complete. Transportation contractors have also taken extraordinary efforts to clean and disinfect the buses that transport our children to and from school each day, and each bus is then inspected by our Transportation Department staff. Of the 563 total school buses, over 70% have already been completed. Ultimately, I am grateful for all staff who have continued to function on behalf of our students and families.

This morning, Governor Hogan expanded efforts to limit community exposure to COVID–19 by closing additional businesses and announcing plans to assist those impacted. I know how difficult this period of school closure has been for parents, students and staff members. While we are preparing for all contingencies, it is most critical that we join all Marylanders in doing our part to reduce the spread of COVID–19. I urge you to continue to carefully observe health experts’ guidelines for avoiding the spread of viruses, and to practice social distancing mandates to avoid all large gatherings, including not congregating in outdoor areas.

I greatly appreciate all of the support, patience and cooperation that have been evident among parents, students and staff members since the start of this unprecedented challenge. Our community spirit is what makes the Howard County Public School System great, and it will carry us all through the end of this crisis, together.