A Message From the Superintendent: We’ve Made It This Far
December 10th, 2021
The following statement was issued to Howard County Public School System staff, students, families and community by HCPSS Superintendent Michael Martirano on Dec. 10, 2021:
We should be proud of ourselves; we have made it this far.
This time last year, we were not quite sure where this pandemic was headed. At that time, a vaccine was only on the verge of being announced, and with limited distribution to essential personnel. We then moved quickly from fully virtual, to small in-person student groups, to an expansion of in-person instruction. Then, of course, we transitioned to a return to normalized instruction this fall, with nearly all our students back in school buildings amid myriad precautions and mitigation measures in place.
Since the start of this school year, we have averaged 35-50 positive COVID-19 cases each week in our schools, with limited transmission occurring in schools and on buses. Last week, the number of positive cases in HCPSS schools rose to 85. This week we are nearing 200 positive cases in schools as of this minute. This significant spike is concerning.
These last few days have reminded us that the pandemic is not over. With a new variant emerging, and still many of our young people unvaccinated, I am asking you to please not let down your guard.
Don’t lose sight of how far you have come since this pandemic began. Just one year ago, you—parents, guardians and caregivers—were helping guide your children while they navigated virtual school, often while you were working at home yourselves. What you did to keep your families functioning in a time of crisis is to be lauded and never forgotten.
You helped us then, and now I am again asking for your help. We all want a return to “normal” and many families and groups have begun to gather again indoors, without masks. Please continue to follow the health and safety practices that have gotten us this far. Maintain masking wherever and wherever possible and get the vaccine if you haven’t already. I am hopeful for the day we can return to a pre-pandemic way of life, with regular family gatherings and social events without concern about COVID infection.
We have made it this far, and I know most of you do not want to see a return to virtual instruction. Please join me in resolving to continue to wear a mask and observe health and safety guidelines in order to reduce the number of positive cases and keep our students in school. If you are sick, stay home, get tested, and do not put yourself or any other person at risk.