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Continuity of Learning Updates May 15, 2020

May 15th, 2020

The following update was sent to the HCPSS community by Superintendent Michael Martirano on May 15, 2020:

This week is Pupil Personnel Workers Week in Maryland. Last night our Board issued a proclamation honoring these invaluable staff members who fill a unique role linking the home, school and community to support student well-being and achievement. Please join me in expressing appreciation to these dedicated members of the HCPSS team.

Summer Recovery of Learning Programs

We are developing recovery of learning experiences to help students stay engaged and maintain skills during the summer months. It is important to note that summer programs will be modified in both scope and format. HCPSS summer programs will be offered virtually, in compliance with state and local guidelines for safe recovery of operations. We will share detailed program information next week, including registration and refund processes, on Tuesday, May 19.

Scheduling Adjustments for Week of May 25, 2020

Howard County Public School System schools and offices will be closed on Monday, May 25, 2020 in observance of Memorial Day. Distance learning schedules will be adjusted for the week to accommodate this school closure day. Detailed scheduling information for all grade levels are provided online.

Calendar Update

All four inclement weather make up days identified on the school calendar have been used, plus two additional days. HCPSS will apply for a waiver of five days with the Maryland State Department of Education. If the waiver is granted, which we fully anticipate it will be, the last day of school for students will be Tuesday, June 23, 2020. We will update families and provide last day scheduling information as soon as the final decision is announced.

Continuity of Learning Plan

I’m pleased to share that the HCPSS Continuity of Learning plan earned a favorable assessment from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), which gave of “comprehensive” or “acceptable” (the highest two ratings) for all sections of our plan. This positive feedback is an affirmation of our school system’s careful and comprehensive approach to planning for continuity of learning.

MSDE Recovery Plan

Last week MSDE released a Recovery Plan for Maryland education, which outlines possible pathways for schools districts for moving forward after the COVID–19 related closure. Many parents, guardians, staff members and other stakeholders are understandably concerned about the implications of recovery planning, especially in consideration of their own need to return to workplaces and other responsibilities. I want to emphasize that the MSDE plan is a guidance document, offering research findings and options for school district consideration. It does not mandate any specific actions by local districts or schools. We are reviewing and analyzing the MSDE plan as we work through a process for developing our own HCPSS plan, and we will continue to engage our community stakeholders in our planning.

Graduate Together

I encourage all graduating seniors and their families to tune in tomorrow for a special televised graduation event. “Graduate Together” will air on several national TV networks on Saturday, May 16, at 8 p.m. The program will feature a commencement speech by former President Barack Obama and messages from other celebrities, as well as personal stories from several students and teachers.

Ongoing Support for Children and Families

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, both children and adults are experiencing challenges, which may be different for each person. It is important to monitor children’s mental health and emotional well-being. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) outlines strategies for talking to children about COVID–19 and supporting their mental health. Learn more about NASP’s recommendations and how you can reach out to your school for help.

Again, I thank all of our parents and guardians who have worked so diligently to ensure students continue their learning at home while schools are closed. I am in awe of the skill and positivity consistently shown among our educators, who have embraced remote instruction while often balancing child care and many other personal responsibilities. Perhaps most importantly, I commend our students, who have remained engaged and good-humored while adapting to a whole new and unfamiliar mode of instruction. Once again, while rising to meet steep challenges, our school system and entire community are showing the spirit and collaboration that set Howard County apart.

Best wishes for a peaceful and healthy weekend.

Additional Updates and Reminders:

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