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HCPSS School Closure Daily Update: March 27, 2020

March 27th, 2020

The following update was sent to the HCPSS community by Superintendent Michael Martirano on March 27, 2020:

On Monday we will begin the second phase of the Continuity of Learning implementation process that I shared yesterday. Next week, teachers will begin reaching out to you and your child to share information and support students and families while learning continues at home, using the skill-building and enrichment resources provided on our Continuity of Learning website. At the same time, teachers will begin to plan and take part in professional learning in preparation for the more formal, teacher-led phase of instruction that starts for high school students on April 14.

We have prepared a resource to help you and your child adjust to continuing learning from home. Tips and suggestions are provided for establishing a schedule, creating an environment conducive to learning, and transitioning to distance learning.

We also ask that you help us prepare by completing the online HCPSS Student Technology Survey so that we can assess where we are as a community, and how to best distribute the limited devices we have available for student use. More information on student technology and device distribution is available online. Starting Monday, our student services staff and school administrators will begin reaching out to families, with a specific focus on families who may require interpretation services or may not have internet access to complete the survey online. We also plan to provide print copies at meal distribution sites and have staff available to assist families in survey completion.

The spread of COVID–19 has caused disruption and anxiety for all of us in so many different ways. For families and staff at HCPSS and other school systems, the uncertainty is made even greater by the many questions that are still unanswered, especially around grading and graduation requirements. Please know that we remain committed to ensuring seniors graduate within the expected timeframe, and we continue to seek clarity from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) on the implications of school closing for graduation, third quarter grades and other issues that we are working actively with state leaders to resolve.

Regarding student assessments, today we received notification from MSDE that Maryland has received approval to waive federal 2019–2020 Assessment and Accountability Requirements. Thus, school ratings will not be assigned and HCPSS will not administer the MCAP English language, mathematics, science and social studies assessments, the American Government high school assessment or the Maryland School Survey for this school year.

I’m also pleased that we have arranged to hold virtual judging for our History Day competition, so that we may recognize the outstanding research and projects that many of our students have worked hard on all year.

I appreciate your patience and flexibility as we work together to ensure continuity of learning opportunities for all students. With your help, we will continue to refine and adapt the process as we learn what works best and what needs to be improved. It is vitally important to me, and every other staff member, that your child continues to learn and thrive. Most important of all is that your family remain safe and well, so I urge you once again to diligently observe social distancing, hand washing and other health experts’ guidelines. Have a wonderful weekend.

The following daily update provides additional details for families and staff. Please continue to visit the HCPSS website, as all updates, additional information, and answers to frequently asked questions are posted regularly.

Student Technology Survey

All HCPSS families are requested to complete the HCPSS Student Technology Survey. Please indicate on the first question whether technology and access are available at home, and if not available, complete the remaining questions. It is important that all families complete the survey so we can best assess our student needs.

Comcast Internet Essentials

To help connect more families to the internet at home, Comcast is offering two months of free internet to new Internet Essential customers. The Comcast program is open to Free and Reduced Meals (FARMs) program participants, or those eligible for FARMs. Applications will be accepted through April 30. Details online.

Expanded Meal Distribution

HCPSS is providing free Grab-N-Go meals to anyone age 18 and under and/or any HCPSS student, regardless of age, at locations countywide, extended through April 24. Meals are available from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m., weekdays. Participants will be given a snack, lunch and dinner for that day, as well as a breakfast for the following day, and are encouraged to bring a bag to carry home meals each day. Beginning April 3, Friday distributions at school locations also will include weekend meals. Note: There will be no meal service April 10 or 13; meals for those days will be distributed Thursday, April 9, with instructions for storage and preparation.

History Day Event to be Judged Virtually

HCPSS is excited to announce virtual judging for our Howard County History Day competition. Through April 6, History Day judges will review projects virtually in order to evaluate submissions and determine who will represent Howard County in the Maryland History Day competition in May. Winners of the HCPSS competition will be posted online by April 10.

School Calendar Update: State Primary Election Date Change

The Maryland legislature has postponed the date of the state primary election. The school system calendar has been updated, moving the date schools and offices will be closed for Primary Election Day from April 28 to Tuesday, June 2.

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