Updates on School Meals, Second Semester and Athletics, October 9, 2020
October 9th, 2020
A stopgap U.S. government funding bill signed into law last Thursday, which includes almost $8 billion in nutrition assistance, allows USDA to extend the meal waivers, previously due to expire at the end of December, through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Thus, HCPSS will be able to provide meals at no cost to any HCPSS student, and all children 18 and under, through the entire school year, assuming continued availability of USDA funding.
Beginning Monday, October 12, HCPSS will add a snack and dinner to each weekday meal, in addition to breakfast and lunch already being served. Additionally, weekend meals will be included with meals provided on Fridays, and in pre-ordered meals picked up on Thursdays.
HCPSS also has adjusted the pre-order process. Meals for multiple days need to be pre-ordered at least two days in advance for pickup on Mondays and Thursdays. Pre-order meal pickups will be offered only on those two days, to enable Food and Nutrition Services to improve service and efficiency while balancing staffing and food resources.
Full details on HCPSS student meal offerings can be found online.
Family Survey for Second Semester Planning
HCPSS staff are currently evaluating possibilities for in-person instructional options for the second semester, which begins February 1, 2021.
Early next week, HCPSS will distribute a short survey to all families to gather data on whether families intend to send their student(s) back to school or continue fully virtual learning through the end of the current school year. No decision has been made regarding the learning format for the second semester. The data from this form will facilitate planning and is not a commitment for the second semester. This information will assist the Board and HCPSS leadership during discussions about possible models for the second semester.
Families will have the opportunity to formally select a learning option following the Board’s deliberation and final decision on second semester plans.
The announcement last month by Maryland State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon and Governor Larry Hogan to allow the start of high school athletics to begin October 7 has generated much discussion in our community about whether Howard County would begin athletics sooner than second semester, as was originally determined by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA). Last week, a message was distributed to the community that HCPSS would continue to participate in statewide discussions before revisiting our decision on the return of in-person athletics.
A decision has been made that HCPSS will not participate in the State’s new plan. Instead, HCPSS leadership will advocate for the State’s adoption of a proposed December 7 start (see below) and target all preparation efforts for that date. If the State declines to adopt the December 7 start, HCPSS will participate in the State’s original two-semester plan that begins February 1. In the interim, HCPSS coaches are still permitted to engage virtually with prospective team members for 60-90 minutes one day each week through January 22, 2021.
On October 2, the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM) issued a letter to the State Superintendent urging her to consider an alternate plan, crafted by the supervisors of athletics programs from around the state, to begin in-person athletics on December 7. This plan has several benefits including:
- Longer athletic seasons than the state’s previously-announced two-semester plan that would begin on February 1 and include all sports
- Sufficient time for districts to solidify the health metrics that they will use to base decisions for the return to in-person instruction and athletics
- Ample time for staff and schools to safely and properly reintroduce student-athletes to the physical rigors of competitive high school athletics including proper conditioning
- Sufficient opportunity to ensure health protocols are adopted and implemented at every school and athletic facility and that we have sufficient coaching and training staff available
- Necessary time to develop thoughtful plans for transportation, crowd limitations, facility use, and competition schedules