The implementation of virtual instruction has changed the way the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) will manage inclement weather days. In prior years, inclement weather delays and closings have resulted in scheduling challenges and instructional disruption for students, staff and families, as well as unpredictability about when the school year will end.
For the 2020-2021 school year, while in virtual, small groups or hybrid instructional models, HCPSS will transition to fully virtual instruction during inclement weather days. This will allow the school system to make a decision earlier when inclement weather is expected and provide families with earlier notice so they may make necessary adjustments. The Maryland State Department of Education has approved the inclusion of virtual instruction days among the 180 minimum required academic days each school year, so these days will not have to be made up at the end of the school year.
Four possible inclement weather decisions are provided below. For the 2020-2021 school year, there no longer will be an option for a 2-hour delay. Instead, HCPSS will transition to virtual learning on those days.
On inclement weather days that virtual instruction is implemented, the same virtual schedule will be implemented that has been in place for the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year. Students will be expected to log in to each of their classes and attendance will be recorded. To provide consistency and remain aligned to current virtual instructional schedules, instruction will be synchronous on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and asynchronous on Wednesday.
It is important to note that the primary purpose for closing schools is for safety. Cancelling all instruction on inclement weather days would require make-up days to be used in the summer. By being able to use virtual instruction during inclement weather days, HCPSS will be able to follow the academic calendar as scheduled. This will allow staff better flexibility to implement summer interventions without disruption for students requiring the additional academic support.
The full list of weather status codes is available on the HCPSS Status website.
Virtual Instruction; Buildings Open
This option will include minor weather events that are deemed not significant enough to close the building for staff. This option allows HCPSS to make the decision and provide notification to families and staff much earlier without having to make up a day of instruction at the end of the school year.
Virtual Instruction; Buildings Closed
This option will include weather events that may have closed school in years past. Similar to the Virtual Instruction; Buildings Open option, all instruction will be delivered virtually resulting in an approved academic day.
No Instruction; Buildings Closed
This option mirrors a typical inclement weather day when schools and offices are closed. This decision may be implemented at times of widespread internet or power outages when virtual instruction is not feasible. These days would potentially need to be made up at the end of the school year.
This option would be implemented when an unexpected weather event occurs while students may be in school buildings (small groups, hybrid, etc.). During an early closing, instruction would end early (90-minutes or 3-hours) for all students, including those learning virtually.