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Message to Students from the Superintendent on In-Person Hybrid Instruction, January 22, 2021

January 22nd, 2021

The following statement was issued to Howard County Public School System students by HCPSS Superintendent Michael Martirano on January 22, 2021:

Yesterday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon held a press conference where they said they expect school buildings to reopen for students no later than March 1. Schools are expected to reopen in a hybrid format, which means that students would come to school some days each week, but not for all five days. At this time, we are reviewing guidance about planning for our return. There are still many details that need to be considered and a lot could change in the coming days and weeks.

I’m sure you are feeling many emotions right now. I have heard from many of you that you welcome returning to in-person instruction. At the same time, many of you have also expressed your concern about returning to school buildings while COVID-19 continues to impact our community. Others of you remain unsure about how you feel. All of these emotions and opinions are natural and expected given the circumstances.

The expectation from the Governor and State Superintendent only requires schools to offer hybrid instruction—it does not require you to return in-person. We will be developing a hybrid plan for instruction that provides options for those of you who will return in-person and those who will remain in fully virtual instruction. The decision will be able to be made by you and your parents/guardians. We hope to receive additional information from the state in the coming days and will be discussing this mandate with the Board of Education during work sessions scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of next week. As soon as we have additional information to share with you, we will.

Please know that whether you return in-person or remain fully virtual, your teachers, school counselors, administrators and other staff will be ready and available to support you. Your well-being and academic success are always our primary focus, especially now as we transition to this new plan for instruction.

There will be bumps in the road, and we will figure them out together, just as we have all year. Thank you for being flexible and compassionate with your teachers as they navigate this new plan for instruction, and they will offer the same kindness to you. While people in our community may have different opinions on this new expectation, our focus is always on your wellness and success. Be healthy and well, and stay tuned for additional information on plans.