Message from Mrs. Strong- July 29, 2020

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 2:07pm

Dear Jeffers Hill Community: 

On July 16, 2020, Howard County Board of Education approved a fully virtual first semester for the 2020-2021 school year, which begins Tuesday, September 8 and ends on Thursday, January 28, 2021. Staff will finalize and submit the HCPSS plan to the Maryland State Department of Education for approval. Final plans are due to MSDE by August 14. 

Fall planning continues to be grounded in equity and guided by three primary priorities: 

Safety and well-being for students and staff 
High-quality instruction for all students 
Resource availability, including funding
Below is an overview of the Board’s decisions, applicable only for the 2020-2021 school year.
Begin School Year Virtually

We will begin the school year in a fully virtual format through the first academic semester, which begins on Tuesday, September 8 and ends on Thursday, January 28, 2021. 
Instructional Model

The virtual instructional model will be significantly more rigorous than the spring continuity of learning program. Students in all levels will engage in four days of teacher-led synchronous (live) instruction each week, and complete asynchronous assignments on the fifth day.
In addition to core classes and related arts at the elementary level, instruction will consist of live, teacher-led virtual instruction. 
Dedicated times will be included in the daily schedule when students may receive additional support and access meal distribution sites.
Sample elementary school schedules are included in the July 16 fall reopening presentation. The schedules will be refined as our planning continues, and finalized schedules will be provided prior to the start of school.  
Re-evaluate for Second Semester

Staff will prepare a detailed and fully vetted hybrid model for the Board’s consideration in re-evaluating the fully virtual decision for the second semester. Staff will present the hybrid model at a future Board meeting. 
The Board’s decisions on July 16th, build on those made during the July 9 Board meeting, which include:

A 2020-2021 calendar modification, delaying the first student day to Tuesday, September 8.
The purchase of 6,500 additional Chromebooks to support equitable access to online instruction.
The additional Chromebooks will be distributed to support a 1:1 student-device ratio in grades Pre-K–8. Students who have already been provided with a Chromebook, including those enrolled in high school, will be permitted to continue using those devices during the 2020-2021 school year. Additionally, we will work with families to resolve connectivity issues. 

Based on the Board’s decisions, staff are preparing professional learning and other supports for teachers in the active delivery of virtual instruction, and other preparations to support the delivery of rigorous instruction that, while online, more closely resembles the instruction that has typically been provided in our classrooms. In early August, we will have additional details to share with families, including schedules, special education services, supports for English language learners and other special needs, meal services, and other aspects of our fall learning model.

I encourage you to visit the HCPSS website, where we will continue to provide additional details as they become available to help support families and staff in preparation for the school year. 

Thank you again for your continued engagement, support and patience as we move forward through the planning process.