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Board of Education Virtual Town Hall on Spring Semester, November 9, 2020

November 2nd, 2020

Update: November 10, 2020

An archived video of the town hall may be viewed online. Panelists answered 53 questions in the two-hour time frame. Additional information on the 2020-2021 school year and the proposed hybrid model can be found online and on the HCPSS Help site.

Questions answered during the virtual town hall were:

  1. What will a hybrid school schedule look like?
  2. If the county accepts a hybrid schedule, will the elementary students who choose to stay virtual continue with their current teacher or be assigned new, virtual teachers?
  3. If HCPSS chooses to allow a hybrid model in the future, can you please describe what the learning process would be like for the days that students are not attending in-person classes? Will it be 3 days of asynchronous assignments? Or will there be virtual synchronous instruction?
  4. How will students use their laptops during in-person instruction?
  5. What measures would be taken to improve HVAC systems in order to ensure safe and effective air quality throughout the buildings? Would classes have air circulation/ventilation before we send our children to school?
  6. How will you prepare the buses to be socially distant and be as clean as possible? Also, what are the expectations for wearing masks and how will it be enforced on buses?
  7. How are you going to protect staff especially for staff who are at high risk due to age and/or underlying health conditions? What kinds of protective PPEs will be provided?
  8. What is the plan if a student or teacher is exposed to COVID? Will the entire classroom quarantine? What does that mean for learning? Will the group go back online?
  9. When can we expect our IEP students to be able to receive face-to-face instruction in the school buildings?
  10. How would reading groups be handled for elementary school?
  11. Middle school is not accustomed to 90-minute class periods. What are your suggestions for the second semester when students will have significantly more instructional hours than first semester students? What suggestions are there for students who struggle with 90-minute classes?
  12. Why does the hybrid plan still have Wednesdays as an asynchronous day?
  13. Will there be an option for vulnerable students/families to remain virtual in the case that HCPSS moves to a hybrid model?
  14. Please explain the remediation and communication plans will be when a positive COVID person is identified at a given school.
  15. If teachers are supposed to stay in a designated area while they teach because of safety, how can we ensure we are supporting our students in the classroom?
  16. Will there be in CogAT, MISA and PARCC testing this year for 5th grade?
  17. If bus service is offered, will children be allowed to take an alternate bus? An example would be a child who attends a before/after school program and takes a HCPSS bus from the before/after care location.
  18. My classroom has no windows that open and only one door. What accommodations can be made to make the space a safe one?
  19. For children with a medical exemption for wearing a mask, how will this be handled? Will these children be separated from the other children?
  20. If we go back to in person or hybrid, what standards will you use to determine when schools close?
  21. Besides resign or retire, are you offering teachers any other options for not going into the classroom in person, particularly if they are at an increased health risk during this pandemic?
  22. If we return hybrid, will students continue to bring their chrome books or computers to school to have students work and upload assignments to minimize any contamination/germs?
  23. Will there be a choice between all virtual instruction, and hybrid instruction? If so, how will the teachers manage both? Will virtual instruction be happening at the same time as in-person hybrid instruction, and my child at home would join the class from their computer?
  24. Do you plan to allow before/after care programs in the school?
  25. How are the student’s current mental health issues being monitored or helped?
  26. What is the reasoning for considering indoor sports beginning December 7 with COVID numbers so high?
  27. What is the county’s plan to address the large number of teachers that want to take a leave of absence, retire or resign? Will other teachers be asked to teach subjects that they don’t usually teach?
  28. Teachers are very concerned about having to do both in person and virtual teaching simultaneously in a hybrid model. Will you be providing monitors for the virtual space while we teach physically?
  29. How can students follow covid guidelines and take their masks off to eat in class/lunchroom?
  30. Will there be a county policy in place for students who fail/refuse to wear a mask (especially older students in middle and high school)? Will the county provide schools with masks for students to use if they don’t own a mask, or forget theirs?
  31. Will related arts teachers teach in the classroom teacher’s room or the related arts teacher’s room? Will teachers be given more time in between classes to clean?
  32. Could you tell us more about the professional development that will be provided to support teachers implementing a hybrid model?
  33. Will students be offered the choice to come back to school when Covid conditions get better even if they chose to go all virtual initially?
  34. What will happen if a teacher contracts the virus? Will there be enough substitutes to help?
  35. Please explain how hybrid instruction is better for students than virtual instruction?
  36. How do you plan to meet the needs of young students who need to move during the day?
  37. What are your plans for hybrid instruction for families in the Infant and Toddler Program?
  38. Will the internet service at schools be sufficient for all students and staff to be on the network at a school at once?
  39. Will families be able to choose which cohort they will be in? Will siblings be placed in the same cohort?
  40. Will seniors be one of the first groups allowed back?
  41. I’d also like to know how the school plans to manage recess? Indoor Recess?
  42. If kids choose hybrid and don’t physically go to school one day, can they go online?
  43. What is the plan for itinerant (or other) staff who travel among multiple schools and see students in multiple classrooms?
  44. In a virtual model, students and families have the option to turn their camera off if their student is having a behavioral episode. How will HCPSS protect the privacy and dignity of students who may exhibit behavioral challenges in the classroom upon returning to the school building if in-building classes are live-streamed for the virtual students?
  45. How will transitions from class to class be handled to maintain social distancing in the middle and high schools?
  46. How will staff be able to prepare while simultaneously continuing instruction?
  47. Would you consider a model that has in school instruction for small groups and for specific classes while keeping other courses 100% virtual?
  48. If/when the students do return to the classroom, what effort will be made to ensure that the instruction in the classroom is actually live instruction and gives them a break from the extensive screen time that has been required all fall?
  49. Assuming a child is ill (not necessarily regarding COVID, could be a variety of illnesses) can they move to virtual just while recovering and home, and then move back to in person when they have recovered? And if they were able to do this, do they stay with their same classes?
  50. What is the deadline for making changes to where our kids will be picked up by the bus in a hybrid model?
  51. Will students be able to do labs or use hands-on manipulative?
  52. For teachers and staff (like Special Education, ESOL, reading specialists) who work with students from many, many different rooms, what will be the instructional location and room logistics? What will be the procedure to ensure children in the building attend our classes if we are quarantined due to the many children/rooms we work with?
  53. Cases are rising in Howard County and Maryland, what is the rationale for opening?

As part of ongoing efforts to receive stakeholder feedback and answer questions related to the 2020-2021 spring semester, the Howard County Board of Education will host a virtual town hall, Monday, November 9 from 7-9 p.m. The event will be streamed live and may be viewed on the HCPSS website, or on Comcast channel 95/Verizon 42 in Howard County.

The town hall will feature a panel of HCPSS leadership and Central Office staff, who will respond to pre-submitted questions. Panelists will address as many of the submitted questions as possible within the two-hour time period.

Any students, parents/guardians, staff or community members were able to submit questions via Google form, which closed at 7 a.m., Monday, November 9.

The question submission period is now closed.

Please note, there is a scheduled Board of Education meeting Thursday, November 5, during which a proposed hybrid model for the spring semester will be presented. That proposal is available on the BoardDocs website. Stakeholders may find it useful to submit questions after reviewing the proposed hybrid model.

Additionally, all stakeholders may continue to provide input to the Board of Education by emailing