As we move forward, we are following closely the decisions and announcements made by Governor Larry Hogan
and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon. As we progress and restrictions change, we will adjust our
course of action while making every effort to maintain the highest level of safety for the health and
well-being of our students and staff.
In preparation for the 2020-2021 school year, the following information and forms require distribution
signature from families.
In addition to the above requirements,
As shared in the most recent version of the HCPS Recovery Plan, all instruction during the
first semester of the 2020-2021 school year will be virtual. HCPS will be implementing a
modified plan that relies exclusively on virtual learning while providing opportunities for
students who need a safe, supervised place to access virtual instruction at HCPS
Learning Support Centers.
To address the needs of students who require a safe place to access virtual instruction, we
are offering a limited number of spaces in HCPS Learning Support Centers at each of
our schools where students will be supervised by an HCPS employee and have reliable access
to the Internet. Learning Support Centers will be open on all days when school is
in session, as noted in the 2020-2021 Parent-Student Handbook Calendar. Please note that the
HCPS employees staffing the Learning Support Centers will not be the children's
classroom teachers, and your child’s assigned Learning Support Center location may
differ from their assigned school.
While attending an HCPS Learning Support Center, students will receive virtual
instruction from their teacher working from a remote location. These students will have
access to bus transportation and food and nutrition services. Please note that meal
distribution sites will be utilized throughout the county for those students who do not
attend Learning Support Centers but still need access to meals.
Social distancing guidelines and face coverings will be required in Learning Support
Centers in accordance with current state and local health department guidance.
Progress and plans will be communicated with families via the Blackboard Connect5 mass
notification system, HCPS social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter) and www.hcps.org, as
well as during Board of Education meetings.
To view the
elementary, middle and high school schedules for the fall, click here.
Our goal is for teachers to connect with students each day like they would in a traditional
in-person learning experience. Elementary school students participating in synchronous
learning will interact with their teacher and classmates throughout the school day. Middle
and high school students can expect a regular schedule where they connect with teachers and
their classmates every day.
Online registration is available for incoming students in grades K-12. Visit the 'Register
for School' page (found under the 'Parents' tab) on www.hcps.org for more information.
Information about early entrance, advanced placement, transfers, and more, is also available
on the 'Register for School' page on www.hcps.org.
Students who have been identified as gifted and talented (GT) will continue to receive GT
services during the distance learning model. Specialists will work with identified teachers
and students to provide academic and affective programming to meet the students' needs
through co-teaching and small group instruction.
Planning teams are working on developing curriculum that will engage students in
project-based learning and other ways to make the student experience as hands-on as
possible. Curriculum writers are working to create engaging and innovate experiences for all
magnet and signature students.
HCPS has developed a plan to offer asynchronous learning opportunities for families for the
2020-2021 school year. While some features of live, synchronous instruction from a teacher
will be limited, families and students will be able to access the curriculum and critical
content pacing charts in the itslearning platform on their own time, including mornings,
afternoons, evenings, and/or weekends. More details will be provided in the coming weeks,
including parent/guardian training on itslearning and iPads, Chromebooks, and Windows-based
laptops for students. If your child is attending a Learning Support Center, all students
will participate in synchronous learning (real-time interaction between the teacher and
Yes, school nurses will be available in all Learning Support Centers to conduct monitoring
and surveillance. In the event that a student or staff member becomes ill with COVID-19, or
a COVID-19 like illness, school nurses will adhere to the latest Maryland Department of
Health (MDH) guidance regarding isolation and quarantine procedures including but not
limited to: following the Decision Tree matrix provided by MDH to determine appropriate
course of action; partnering with the Harford County Health Department (HCHD) to identify
and notify close contacts; and determining school cleaning and closing decisions based on
the latest guidance from the state and local health department. HCPS Health Services will
collaborate with the HCHD to assist with appropriate contact tracing measures.
We anticipate students in kindergarten through grade 3 will receive a device by mid-October.
If our Chromebook supplier indicates any changes, we will share that information.
HCPS has submitted a grant application to the Maryland Governor's Office of Rural Broadband
for funding to address broadband access to unserved students. If awarded funds, HCPS will
purchase cellular hotspots for students who do not have the ability to obtain broadband
Internet access at their home. To comply with the FCC mandate, Internet access through the
hotspots will be filtered. The grant funds only extend through December 2020, at which time,
HCPS will cover the monthly fee for the balance of instruction delivered virtually.
The HCPS Office of Technology will have the capability to monitor Google's G-Suite portal
which provides information on students' activity with their Chromebook. Similarly,
Microsoft's Office 365 and InTune portals will provide information on Windows-based devices.
Additional tools, such as Cisco's Security Umbrella service, will also provide tracking data
on student's web usage.
HCPS has purchased the Dell Chromebook 3100.
HCPS is providing the Windows-based Dell Latitude 3190.
All hcps computers will have web-based access to itslearning, Office 365, and other online
resources via the start.hcps.org site. Some hcps Windows devices will have program apps,
like PowerPoint App and Word App (non-web-based); however, these are not required for
critical content participation and assignment submission. Please note: any student using a
personal computer at home only needs to have the most recent version of Chrome browser to be
able to open resources from the start.hcps.org site
All hcps issued devices (Chromebooks and Windows devices) have built in cameras. It is
helpful for personal devices at home to have built-in or USB-connected cameras; however
students can still participate in a virtual instruction session (via Teams) and with
critical content and assignment submission by using audio and typed response as a
participant. Students will still see their teacher from the teacher camera during virtual
instruction, but students will need to let the teacher know if they do not have a camera
available if using a personal device.
Yes. Students will submit assignments to teachers through itslearning. Students completing
any work outside of itslearning will upload their assignment through a link on the Chrome
browser. The teacher will grade those assignments that are submitted.
It is not recommended that students use iPhones, Android phones or tablets, or Kindles, due
to the limitations of Chrome browser from these devices. iPads should only be used when the
iOS is at least 10.0 to access the Microsoft Teams app and when the Chrome browser is
available to access itslearning. Some features may be limited on an iPad.
No. All critical content and submitted work is possible via access from start.hcps.org.
Students may be encouraged to take notes on paper (such as a lined notebook a student has at
Regarding the distribution of cellular hotspots for students, the Office of Technology is
analyzing data provided by the FCC for address locations who do not have the physical
capability of obtaining broadband internet access. At this time, funding is
available to provide a cellular hotspot to those addresses only. Students that
qualify for free and reduced status, who reside at a fore mentioned address, will be our top
priority. Our second wave of distribution will be the balance of addresses who do not have
the physical capability of obtaining broadband access. We recognize that some addresses have
the topographic challenge of receiving a cellular signal which will prevent a hotspot from
being a viable solution to obtaining internet access. HCPS does not have another means to
provide internet access to these topographical challenged locations. Additional information,
such as distribution dates, will be forthcoming to those eligible from your school.
HCPS will offer virtual learning for prekindergarten in the fall.
The HCPS Curriculum Office, along with lead teachers, have created a 40-week scope and
sequence of critical content for all academic areas. The critical content aligns with the
Maryland College and Career Ready Standards (MDCCRS). HCPS is dedicated to supporting
student learning and growth. Virtual lessons have been designed to support our youngest
learners. In addition, teachers will work diligently to bond with their students, build
positive relationships and supply interactive and engaging lessons.
Yes, parents/guardians may complete and submit a kindergarten one-year maturity waiver
available online here or contact the local elementary school.
Elementary school staff are responding to registration requests promptly. When registering,
remember to make an appointment with the school to complete the registration process.
Yes, the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR
13A.08.01.02-2) states that parents/guardians may make a written request to place
their child full time in a licensed family program, licensed childcare center or a nonpublic
kindergarten program in lieu of attending public kindergarten. Parents/Guardians must
complete the Kindergarten Exemptions Form available online here
or contact your local elementary school.
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) in consultation with the
Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, the Maryland Department of Health, and the Public
School Superintendent Association of Maryland announced today that the 2020 high school fall
and winter competition seasons will be postponed.
MPSSAA is working with all groups to create a plan focused on alternative ways to provide
engaging opportunities for students in the first semester and modified competition seasons
for all sports during the second semester. Details of this plan will be available prior to
the start of the 2020-2021 academic year.
In alignment with this announcement, HCPS will postpone all face-to-face athletic
conditioning, practices, and competitions for the fall and winter seasons. We
will continue to work to provide opportunities for our student athletes to engage in a
HCPS has a team working on all possibilities surrounding fall activities. More information
will be shared with parents/guardians and students soon.
Central Office and school offices are open to visitors by appointment. Please make sure you
first have an appointment and sign-in when entering the main lobby of any building. If you
DO NOT have any of the symptoms listed on the visitor sign-in sheet and have
answered "NO" to the "close contact" question:
If you DO have any of the symptoms listed on the visitor sign-in sheet OR
have answered "YES" to the "close contact" question:
Close Contact Question
Have you been in close contact with someone with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19
diagnosis, without using infection protection and control precautions?
Close contact is defined as being less than six feet apart from another person for a
period longer than 15 minutes, even if both persons are wearing masks.
*HCPS encourages use of personal pens. Disinfectant wipes are supplied for communal
HCPS outdoor spaces are open to the public. Currently, Use of Facilities (UOF) applications
will be accepted for outdoor use only. Prior to the approval of a UOF application, a
COVID-19 Plan must be sent by the organization requesting use of an HCPS facility.
Individuals and requesting organizations must adhere to social distancing guidelines while
on school grounds.
Virtual - Meal sites, like the current summer meal program, will be operational in certain
areas of the county. Guidance from MSDE and USDA will regulate the procedures involved and
may vary from the current service model.
Learning Support Centers – The National School Lunch and Breakfast Program will be
available to all students. Meal benefit applications will be accepted and processed. Current
standard operating procedures including wearing of gloves and face coverings will continue
and kitchens and serving areas will be disinfected throughout the day. Enhanced safety
measures related to student meal service, including student handwashing and appropriate
sanitation measures for touch contact surfaces used by students during meal service will
continue. HCPS will be observing cleaning and sanitation protocols provided by MSDE and the
Harford County Health Department.
HCPS Student Support Services staff will provide support to students both in-person and
virtually. In addition, the HCPS Emotional Recovery Team has put together a vast resource of
activities to support the social and emotional well-being of students, which will be
accessible to parents/guardians, students, and staff. Parents/Guardians and students can
access resources that exist within their assigned school, school counselor, social worker,
school psychologist, trusted teacher or administrator. From one of those access points
families can either be served by HCPS staff or referred to a community resource.
Parents and students can also reach out to Christina Alton, LCSW-C, HCPS Mental Health
firstname.lastname@example.org or e-mail
email@example.com .The mental health support e-mail
inbox is monitored by a school social worker.
In the event of a mental health emergency, families should call 911. 911 .
The Klein Family Harford Crisis Center is also an option for mental health support. Families
can call 1-800-NEXT-STEP or 410-874-0711 . The walk-in clinic is located at 802
Baltimore Pike in Bel Air and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Families are encouraged to continue to seek guidance and referral from their physicians.
For free, personalized service, contact a LOCATE: Child Care Referral Specialist by calling
877-261-0060 Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and
4:00 p.m. A Referral Specialist can help find childcare options based on your family’s
HCPS has worked with providers to determine their availability to support before and after
school services for families at the HCPS Learning Support Centers. Visit https://www.hcps.org/schools/daycarecenters.aspx
for more information.
The families of students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be contacted by
HCPS special education staff to discuss the needs of individual students. Special education
staff will: collaborate with families to address student learning needs during the
transition to the 2020-2021 school year; prioritize face-to-face assessments to inform
eligibility and shape goals in the student’s IEP; collect student data to inform student
progress and identify opportunities for recovery; complete on-going monitoring of student
progress and communicate with families, teachers, and service providers; convene virtual IEP
meetings whenever necessary to address student needs, amend or revise IEP goals based on
student progress; and partner with families, the Special Education Citizens Advisory
Council, other community supports, and staff to proactively provide and respond to student
Face-to-Face testing will begin in August and will continue into the 2020-2021 school year.
HCPS related services staff will begin contacting the families of students with disabilities
or suspected disabilities who require a Face-to-Face assessment to schedule these
assessments. Proper safety protocols have been established and will be utilized to minimize
health risks to students and staff throughout the assessment process. Parents/Guardians will
be given the option to proceed with or decline the offer of Face-to-Face testing. Families
who decline will be contacted by their child’s case manager to schedule an IEP meeting.
Child Find is a special education service provided by HCPS to identify
children with disabilities, birth to age 21, who are suspected of having an educational
disability and may need special education and related services. Child Find services are
supplied year-round, at no-cost. Preschool children living in Harford County who are not
enrolled in a preschool program, as well as children ages 3-21 attending an MSDE approved
private/parochial school located in Harford County, are eligible to receive Child Find
The HCPS Child Find process includes referral, prescreening to determine the need for
assessment, a first evaluation or reevaluation to determine eligibility, and the development
of an IEP or Service Plan upon eligibility for special education services. This process
begins with a referral to the HCPS Child Find Center started by the parent/guardian or by an
individual familiar with the child’s development (with parent/guardian consent).
Parents/Guardians of children enrolled in HCPS, should contact their local school if they
suspect their child may have a disability requiring special education services.
For more information related to Child Find, contact the HCPS Child Find Center at 410-638-4386 or 410-638-4387 .
Parents/Guardians of children, who are not yet three years old, may contact the Harford
County Infants and Toddlers Program at 410-638-3823
for inquiries about accessing services.
School staff will communicate with parents/guardians regarding student absences and many of
the typical interventions to address absenteeism will be in place during the virtual
learning model. Additionally, parents/guardians will be permitted to submit absence notes
Students will be graded for their schoolwork with teachers providing direct and timely
feedback to students. The Home Access Center (HAC) will be utilized to monitor student
progress and to publish report cards at the end of the first and second quarter for all
students in grades K-12. PreK students will receive a report card via email. Elementary
schools will not hold their traditional parent/teacher conferences at the conclusion of the
first quarter. All grades will be reported as dictated in the HCPS Board of Education policy
entitled Report Cards and Marking System.
Parents/Guardians who have technical difficulties establishing a HAC account, please contact
for assistance. Parents/Guardians with students in middle and high school should
contact their school counselor with non-technical questions.
Senior pictures are taking place throughout the summer at all high schools.
Parents/Guardians and students should contact their school for specific dates.
Students wanting assistance with college materials should contact their individual/home
school. School counseling offices will be open in the fall. School counselors will be able
to support the college application process virtually and through Naviance, focusing on the
vision of North Star through college and career readiness.
SAT’s are being administered in our schools. Please visit the College Board website to
HCPS is addressing equity, guided by the four focus areas identified by MSDE: Academic
Achievement and Growth, Leadership and Human Capital, School Climate and Culture, and
Educator and Staff Capacity. This includes using an equity lens to strategically monitor and
evaluate curriculum that supports the academic achievement of all students, working to
attract and retain a diverse faculty and staff, and providing professional development on
digital teaching and learning, disproportionate discipline, implicit bias, culturally
responsive practices, and social emotional learning. HCPS will continue to monitor every
policy, practice, and process for its impact on every student to ensure an equitable
environment for all.
HCPS offered academic tutoring to students throughout the summer. The intent of this
tutoring is to ensure that students enter their next grade level or sequential course with
the necessary pre-requisite skills and knowledge. HCPS is studying the possibility of
continuing tutoring to students this fall, to continue to address gaps in learning. More
information will be shared with parents at the start of the school year.
The HCPS service model for bus transportation will continue to follow the same guidelines
for bus routing and bus stop information as we did prior to COVID-19. The only change will
be that your student(s) schedule may vary depending on the school schedule. Students should
only ride the bus on the scheduled day(s); assigned to them by the school. See bus
information here: http://www.infofinderi.com/ifi/?cid=HCPS3HATZU1H2
COVID-19 Transportation Guidance:
HCPS will follow the guidance provided by Maryland Association of Pupil Transportation in
conjunction with the Maryland State Department of Transportation.
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 25, 2020
Meal Benefit Application Reminder
This is an important reminder about the free and reduced meal benefit program. Currently, the USDA extended waiver provides free meals to all students, regardless of eligibility. However, when the waiver runs out, HCPS will need to ensure free meals can be provided to students who qualify. All meal benefit applications from the previous school year will be expiring, and a new application must be completed. Don’t delay – you can even fill out the application online by clicking here!
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 24, 2020
LSC Entry Date Update
This message was sent via our mass communications system on Thursday, September 24, 2020 to families with students scheduled to join the LSC on October 6; they will now join the LSC on October 12, 2020
This an important message for students scheduled to join our Learning Support Center on October 6. As you may be aware, at the Board meeting on September 21, Dr. Bulson released a Plan to Return to In-Person Learning in HCPS. Part of this plan includes bringing teachers back to our classrooms on October 12. The addition of teachers into our classrooms is exciting! We have faced staffing difficulties in the Learning Support Centers and know that moving your child’s start date to October 12 will allow us to best support them as they return to the school building, with their own teacher, in their own classroom. Again, students previously scheduled to join the Learning Support Center on October 6, will begin on Monday, October 12, 2020.
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 23, 2020
Return to In-Person Learning Plan: How to Continue Virtual Learning
This information is being sent via our mass communication system to all parents/guardians with an email address on record at 4:30 p.m.
Harford County Public Schools announced a hybrid model to return to in-person learning at the Board meeting on Monday, September 21, 2020. This plan will begin introducing additional elementary students into schools on October 19 and students in middle/high school into schools on November 16, 2020. If you have reviewed this plan and would prefer to have your child continue virtual learning from home, please note the following:
For students in elementary school:
Additional information about the plan to return to in-person learning is linked below in the September 22, 2020 Update.
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 22, 2020
Return to In-Person Learning Plan Released at BOE Meeting
At the Board of Education of Harford County business meeting last night, Monday, September 21, 2020, Superintendent Bulson presented a plan to return students and staff to our schools. The Superintendent’s presentation will be available to watch in its entirety on the Board stream/archive page later today. At this time, we encourage you to watch an introductory video here.
Return to In-Person Learning Plan Timeline:
*Please note that all key dates are contingent on metrics staying within the target range for Moderate Transmission (defined in the attached presentation). Dates will be revised if data moves beyond the target range.
October 12 Staff return to work sites
October 19 Limited small-group activities begin
Life Skills programs
John Archer School
Some CTE hands-on groups
Some English Language Learners
*1-day/week hybrid begins in Grades K-2 (includes Classroom Support Program, or CSP, students up to 5 days/week in those grades)
November 4 1-day/week hybrid begins in Grades 3-5 (includes CSP students up to 5 days/week in those grades)
1-day/week hybrid begins in Pre-K
November 16 1-day/week hybrid begins in secondary schools (Grades 6-12)
CSP program begins in middle school up to 4 days/week
2-day/week hybrid begins in Grades K-2
December 7 2-day/week hybrid possible in all grades
If you have questions about operations, like transportation, meals, cleaning protocols, playground use, etc. in the buildings when students return, please review the Continuity of Learning Plan. The plan will continue to be updated as needed.
In addition, at the Board meeting last night, discussions included that parents/guardians may notify their teacher/school if they would like their child to continue virtual learning at home. As more details around any timeline or parameters to notify the school that you would like your child to remain at home for virtual learning are made available, we will share them here and through our regular communication channels.
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
Superintendent Bulson to present return to in-person learning plan to Board of Education of Harford County tonight
This evening, at the Board of Education business meeting, Dr. Bulson, Superintendent of Harford County Public Schools, will provide additional information to the Board of Education and the community about the return to in-person learning in Harford County Public Schools. You can watch tonight’s presentation Live by visiting the Board of Education live stream page. You can also access Dr. Bulson’s introduction to the return to in-person learning plan from the September 14, 2020 Board of Education meeting, on the Board of Education Streaming Media Archive page.
The Board of Education business meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. the agenda is available here.
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 18, 2020
Attendance Calls Reinstated September 21, 2020
As we look towards the third week of virtual learning, we want to remind parents and guardians that attendance, or “absence” phone calls will be reinstated on Monday, September 21, 2020. These calls will continue in the traditional format, letting you know your child is absent from their school, whether their learning is taking place virtually from home or in a Learning Support Center. The calls are scheduled to be sent at 12:15 p.m. If you have a question about your child’s attendance, please contact your school office.
As a reminder, there’s an attendance policy on hcps.org/hcpstogether along with directions on how students in grades 4-12 are expected to check in through the attendance tile on the start page- the landing page where students begin when they login. Please encourage your student to continue checking in through the attendance tile, Monday through Friday.
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 16, 2020
PUBLIC NOTICE FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE BOARD OF EDUCATION BUSINESS MEETING FOR SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
On September 21, 2020, at 6:30PM, the Board of Education of Harford County Business Meeting will be hosted virtually. The Audio Live Stream will be available on HCPS.ORG/BOE/LIVESTREAM.
Community members who wish to submit public comment must do so by submitting comments in writing
using the following link: Contact Board of Education .
Deadline to submit comments is 12:00 Noon on Monday, September 21, 2020.
The following information must be included in the contact form when submitting comments:
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 10, 2020
HCPS Learning Support Centers
Click here to watch a brief video that takes you into two of the multiple Learning Support Centers that opened September 8, 2020 throughout Harford County Public Schools. This is the first step to reaching our ultimate goal of having all students return to the classroom.
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 9, 2020
The following message will be sent to all email addresses in our mass communications system at 5:00 p.m.
As students and staff finish Day 2 of Virtual Learning in Harford County Public Schools, we would like to announce that we have added an applications “Status” on the students landing page (where your student accesses the tiles/apps). Students will see if itsLearning and Office 365/Microsoft Teams are functioning as expected (green), if there are any issues with the service (yellow), or if there is a system-wide outage (red). Our goal is to provide students and families with this information as soon as we are aware of any technical issues in itslearning or Office 365/Microsoft Teams.
We are working on establishing a way to share this same information on www.hcps.org so parents/guardians have access to the information, too.
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 8, 2020
PUBLIC NOTICE FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE BOARD OF EDUCATION BUSINESS MEETING
FOR SEPTEMBER 14, 2020 6:30PM
On September 14, 2020, at 6:30PM, the Board of Education of Harford County Business Meeting will be hosted virtually. The Audio Live Stream will be available on HCPS.ORG/BOE/LIVESTREAM.
Community members who wish to submit public comment must do so by submitting comments in writing
using the following link: Contact Board of Education .
Deadline to submit comments is 12:00 Noon on Monday, September 14, 2020.
The following information must be included in the contact form when submitting comments:
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 3, 2020
USDA EXTENDS WAIVER FOR FREE MEALS FOR ALL STUDENTS
The following message will be sent to the HCPS community via our mass communication system tonight, at 4:30 p.m.
On Monday, August 31, 2020 the USDA provided an extended waiver so that all students are eligible for free breakfast and lunch. When the USDA waiver timeline is finalized, we will notify you when the end date is confirmed.
Meal sites will operate:
Additional information can be found on our website, www.hcpsmenus.com. For additional questions, contact HCPS Food and Nutrition at 410-638-4078.
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 1, 2020
Parent Academy Real Talk: Asynchronous Learning
During this Parent Academy Real Talk on Asynchronous Learning, Mr. Rob Deleva, principal of the Alternative Education Program at the Center for Educational Opportunity, and Mrs. Becky Pensero, coordinator of eLearning, provide parents an overview of how some HCPS students will participate in blended asynchronous learning during the fall semester.
Click here to watch a brief video message from Dr. Bulson, Superintendent of Schools, as he addresses the impact of device shortages on Harford County Public Schools.
Text of the video message:
As we look to start the 2020-2021 school year, I want to thank you for your engagement, support, and continuing advocacy for our all of our students.
As a community, we have faced many challenges through COVID-19, but through it all, we have planned for the eventual return of students. One of the greatest challenges is the continuously changing environment- both locally and nationally. In May, ahead of many other districts across the country, we ordered enough devices to ensure each student would have one to start the school year. Through the spring and summer, we were reassured by our vendor we’d have enough for all students to start the school year. But, we’ve seen during this pandemic that supply lines on everything have had unexpected delays. It wasn’t long ago that a shortage of paper towels and other essentials were affecting all of our lives!
At our August 10 Board meeting, I announced we would not receive all of the ordered devices in time; we would be 15,000 short. To the understandable frustration of many, we’ve now made 3 central appeals to our community, not to mention those made by individual schools, to fill out surveys in an effort to help us secure enough devices for every student. While we have sent these appeals asking the community to opt-out of accepting school system devices, it hasn’t yielded enough. We’ve scoured the schools to come up with devices, but they’re too old and we cannot get enough of them in working condition.
So, we are at a point now where we have to finalize virtual learning plans- you need to know how we are moving forward. You need to know how your child will receive virtual instruction beginning the first day of school, on September 8. As a result of our device shortage, we will be distributing HCPS devices to all students in Grades 4 through 12 who have not opted out.
We will not be able to provide students in kindergarten through grade 3 with an HCPS device prior to the start of the school year. While this is not what we had planned for, I feel encouraged our schools are determined to find a solution.
Despite the lack of devices, it is essential that every teacher will still be delivering live, online instruction from kindergarten through grade 12 for any student who can access it. For families with children who can’t participate in the live online learning schedule for any reason, we have developed asynchronous instruction options, too. We will provide additional information in the form of a Parent Academy video on Monday on the HCPS Together webpage. For those families who requested asynchronous learning in their intentions form, we’ll be reaching out directly with more information and instructions early next week.
Elementary schools are still distributing textbooks and other materials of instruction from September 1 through September 4 for students at all grade levels. If your student does not have access to a device to start the school year, please communicate that information when you go to the school to pick up your other instructional materials.
Our Chromebook supplier has indicated the delayed devices will arrive by mid-October; we’re cautiously optimistic. Between now and then, we will give any functioning device we can get our hands on, to the schools to provide to the students who need them most.
We know the pandemic is still impacting our lives in many different ways, but we will get through this, HCPS Together.
UPDATE: August 27, 2020
At a press conference on August 27, 2020 at 4:00 p.m., the Governor of Maryland, the Honorable Larry Hogan, and the State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Karen Salmon, shared their desire for all Maryland schools to open for in-person instruction this coming school year. We have started to hear from concerned parents, guardians, and staff who want to know how this will impact our plans for the beginning of the school year.
On September 8, Learning Support Centers in our school buildings will open, welcoming more than 5% of our student population across the county. We have safety protocols in place to closely monitor the Learning Support Centers to ensure bringing students and staff into our school buildings does not contribute to increased transmission of the Coronavirus.
We are working with the Harford County Health Department and the Board of Education to develop plans for safely and gradually returning additional groups of students to in-person instruction, if conditions permit, this Fall. We agree that there is no substitute for in-person learning. While we want to do this expeditiously, every phase of students returning requires intensive and thoughtful planning that ensures the safety of all of our student populations. Until then, we will begin the school year with virtual instruction as planned.
Sean Bulson, Ed.D
Harford County Public Schools
9/25/2020 3:39:59 PM