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Message from the Superintendent: Inspired, Grateful, Full of Hope

September 11th, 2020

The following message was issued by HCPSS Superintendent Michael Martirano on September 11, 2020:

Today marks 19 years since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that forever changed our nation. Please take a few moments today to remember those in our community who lost their lives that day, as well as their many family members and loved ones who still feel the heavy impact of their loss.

We have reached the end of our first week of virtual school for the 2020-21 school year, and I want to tell you how pleased and proud I am of our students and staff members for all that they have already accomplished. I have had an opportunity to drop in to a number of virtual classrooms and have been consistently impressed with the level of excitement and engagement, as students and teachers get to know each other and embark on a robust and rewarding program of online learning. Our students have inspired me and our staff members have demonstrated once again that Howard County educators and support staff are dedicated first and foremost to building relationships and getting to know our students.

Has this been challenging? Yes. Did websites and systems slow down as hundreds of school systems began the school year? Yes. However, none of that has impacted the resilience, commitment and ingenuity of our staff, students and families in finding ways to give every student the support they need. For that, I am grateful and full of hope for the 2020-2021 school year.

I want to remind every student, staff and family member to be mindful of the importance of continuing to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines. After six long months, we’re all anxious to put the pandemic behind us, and we can get to the finish line as quickly as possible by remaining vigilant. I cannot wait to welcome our students back in person, and I appreciate your patience as we work with our health partners and the state in developing the metrics that will enable us to reopen schools. At the same time, we are making progress on plans to provide in-person support and services that will be provided during this semester to small groups of students. More information will be shared later this month.

You and your family are always uppermost in my mind and heart. I wish you a restful weekend.

Important resources for the 2020-2021 school year

Technology for online learning: HCPSS continues to work toward a 1:1 student-device ratio by the end of this school year. Any family who requires a Chromebook or internet access for virtual learning is asked to identify your need by logging into HCPSS Connect. If you are unable to access HCPSS Connect, or need assistance in requesting a device or internet access, please contact your child’s school for support. More information on student technology is provided on the HCPSS Help site.

Fall meal service: Meals are provided at no cost to any HCPSS student, and all children 18 and under, through December 31, subject to U.S. Department of Agriculture funding availability. Grab-and-Go breakfasts and lunches can be picked up at any school meal site Monday through Friday from 8–9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m. Full details, including meal pickup, pre-ordering, assigning a designee and more are provided online.

The Free and Reduced-priced Meals (FARMs) program provides many additional benefits to participating students. Many more families have become eligible during the pandemic. I encourage families to visit our website for details and a link to the application, which is available in several languages. Paper application forms are also available at any meal distribution site.

Resources and information online: Please visit our 2020-2021 School Year website to find comprehensive and updated information about all aspects of our virtual learning program. Answers to many frequently asked questions are provided on our Help site, which is regularly updated with new information.