Dear HCPSS Community,
Yesterday, Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon announced their clear expectation for all school buildings to reopen in a hybrid format no later than March 1. At this time, we are reviewing guidance that we received today and the Governor has acknowledged that plan development could take several days. There are still many details that need to be considered and much could change in the coming days and weeks.
This morning, I am certainly experiencing mixed emotions as a result of the Governor's mandate. My heart has ached for the students and families who have struggled during virtual instruction and isolation, and I hope that a return to schools for hybrid instruction will provide the instructional and supportive environment they need to thrive. At the same time, I look at our current metrics and while they are trending in the right direction, we are still operating in the double red band, according to metrics approved by the Board of Education.
Today, I urge our students, staff and family members to be patient. I convened my cabinet immediately following the Governor's press conference yesterday and did so again this morning. I also met with Dr. Salmon and my counterparts across the state to better understand the State’s expectations. We hope to receive additional information from the state in the coming days and will be discussing this mandate with the Board of Education during work sessions scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of next week. As soon as we have additional information to share with the community, we will.
I want to acknowledge our staff, who I know are feeling mixed emotions today. There isn’t an educator who doesn't miss interacting personally with their students. Many staff members have been teaching and working from our buildings. At the same time, many—understandably so—remain nervous at the prospect of returning to buildings when countywide health metrics remain high. Educators are indispensable employees who tend to and care for our most precious resources—children. I thank all HCPSS staff for their continued resilience, kindness, and empathy in the face of this unprecedented pandemic.
We are grateful for our wonderful and supportive community. We have stayed strong these last 10 months and we will move forward together in the common interest of our children. It hasn’t been easy and we all have to tend to our own challenges and considerations, but we are a resilient community. We will get through this together.
I have a special message for our students that they can access in Canvas. I also invite you to read and share this message with your children.
Michael J. Martirano, Ed.D.