HCPSS Closely Monitoring Evolving Coronavirus Outbreak

Words: Caleb McClatchey

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) is diligently monitoring the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak as the number of reported cases in Maryland and the United States continues to rise.

Superintendent Michael Martirano announced Tuesday that all out-of-state field trips will be cancelled for the remainder of the academic year. This is the first major change to standard operations that HCPSS has implemented in response to COVID-19.

HCPSS is following the guidance of the Howard County Health Department, Maryland Department of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their response to COVID-19. A group of HCPSS leaders and staff are regularly meeting with the superintendent to stay updated on new information and prepare for all potential impacts of COVID-19 on Howard County.

With only 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland and zero in Howard County, HCPSS is currently operating as scheduled within Maryland. HCPSS has stated that this will remain the case “until a change is deemed necessary by local and state health professionals.” Martirano noted in his update on March 3 that closing schools “is a possibility” if necessary to protect the safety of students and staff.

According to an update sent by Martirano on Monday, “HCPSS does not currently have the ability to implement distance learning if students were required to be out of school for an extended period of time.” However, the county is preparing resources that would give students the opportunity to pursue non-course specific educational opportunities at home.

HCPSS continues to regularly share updates with the community on the state of its response to COVID-19. The school system is also encouraging the community to take general precautions like washing one’s hands and covering one’s cough or sneeze with a tissue to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Principal Cynthia Dillon advises students and parents to regularly check the Coronavirus 2019 page on the HCPSS website for the most current updates and information. She emphasizes that any decision made in response to the COVID-19 situation would be made system-wide rather than at the discretion of individual schools.

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