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Message from the Superintendent to HCPSS Students: We Are Ready

March 1st, 2021

The following statement was issued to Howard County Public School System students by HCPSS Superintendent Michael Martirano on March 1, 2021:

As we welcome students and staff back into our school buildings, I want to assure you that we are ready. Every inch of our school buildings have been prepared to allow the safe return of students and staff, and I can state with certainty that our buildings are ready. We have plenty of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on hand for our students and staff, and a strong partnership with the Howard County Health Department to provide guidance and support in responding to positive cases or other concerns as they arise. I know that our students and staff are ready.

The COVID-19 infection rates in our community have reduced to the levels that health experts recommend as appropriate to begin hybrid instruction. I constantly worry about students who haven’t been able to see teachers and other adults in person during the last several months, because I know how important it is to be physically present in the school to help build a positive relationship between a student and teacher or other staff member. I have worried about the mental well-being of both students and teachers throughout these difficult months.

I understand that many are feeling fear and uncertainty right now. These feelings are only natural and I believe that as we take this next step towards normalcy, our students, staff and families will begin to experience the great benefits of being back in person, and fears will ease as they realize that the comprehensive health and safety measures that are in place are effective. I have heard from staff and families in other school districts where students have returned to classrooms, that while the hybrid instructional model is far from ideal, it is a significant improvement over fully virtual learning, especially for those students who have been impacted the most.

By following the safety guidelines from the Howard County Health Department and CDC – using PPE, practicing regular hand washing and social distancing – we can reopen in a safe manner.

I know that many of you have been waiting for this day so you can see each other, but also receive the necessary instruction and support you need in-person. I am relieved that those of you returning to your school will have access to counseling and other supports in the school building. I am also thankful that those of you who wish to remain virtual may still do so and continue to receive instruction and support from your teachers and school staff.

I want every student to know that we will emerge from this pandemic, on a day not far from now, when we’ll be able to come together and celebrate the resilience, courage, empathy and grace that our great community has demonstrated throughout this unprecedented time.

I am excited to welcome many of you back to our school buildings, and welcome all students to hybrid instruction.