HCPS 411 Update

February 10, 2022

COVID-19 Updates

  • KN95 masks: An additional shipment of masks has been received from the State. These will be distributed to all locations by case next week and can be utilized however best fits the school needs. Extras can be given to the school nurse to distribute as needed to both staff and students.

  • COVID-19 Home Test Kits: Only a portion of the COVID-19 home test kits have been distributed. Based on a large delivery arriving today, all locations who have not received test kits will receive them next week.

About National Board

Established in 1987, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is an independent, nonprofit organization working to advance accomplished teaching for all students. NBPTS has been established as the profession’s vehicle for defining and recognizing accomplished teaching.

The organization's founding mission is to advance the quality of teaching and learning by:

  • Maintaining high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do;
  • Providing a national voluntary system certifying teachers who meet these standards;
  • Advocating related education reforms to integrate National Board Certification in American education and to capitalize on the expertise on National Board Certified Teachers.

(Copyright National Board for Professional Teaching Standards 2017–2018)

Would you like to become a National Board Certified Teacher?

Upcoming HCPS 411 Updates will contain more information on the 2022-23 National Board Certification Cohort, so stay tuned! Seeking additional information? Check out the NBPTS site. Questions may be emailed to HCPS.NationalBoard@hcps.org.

Voluntary Transfer Requests

HCEA represented employees and inclusion helpers (HCEA-ESP represented employees) who wish to be considered for a voluntary transfer must submit their request online prior to the deadline date stated in the applicable negotiated agreement. The Voluntary Transfer Request site may be accessed on the following SharePoint link: Staff Management Department. Each subject and/or position requested must be submitted separately. It is important to note that the Voluntary Transfer Request site is only accessible from a HCPS device connected to the HCPS network. Please note that only online requests completed on the voluntary transfer request site will be accepted.

Transfer requests are accepted on a year-round basis. Although transfers are accepted on a year-round basis, decisions will be based on the existing vacancy/transfer timeline. To review the 2021-2022 SY Employment Timeline, please click on the following SharePoint link: Staff Management Department.

All Other HCEA-ESP Represented Employees

For all other HCEA-ESP represented positions, applications, including transfers, must be done through the online application process. All positions within the unit, which offer promotional and transfer opportunities, will be posted for at least one week prior to the close of the application deadline. You must apply online for consideration.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to Joanna Karolenko, in Human Resources, at Joanna.Karolenko@hcps.org or 410-588-5238.

Congratulations to This Month's Bowtie Breakfast Honorees!

The HCPS Bowtie Breakfast program celebrates Central Office employees who consistently demonstrate outstanding customer service and go above and beyond in their roles. Honorees are nominated by colleagues to attend Superintendent Bulson’s virtual event held each month. Congratulations to the February honorees! Join us in celebrating our awesome HCPS staff!

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Family Friendly School Award Voting Window Now Open!

The voting window to name the next Family Friendly School Award winner is NOW OPEN! There is only be one winning school each month… now is your time to weigh in!

Click here to vote once before 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, February 17, to let us know which nominated school should win the coveted title of “Family Friendly School” and a staff Chick-fil-A luncheon!

As a reminder, if “your” school isn’t in the running this month and you feel it should be, nominate it next month! One winning school will be named each month through May, and schools may win multiple times. Reminders about nominating and voting windows will be shared in the HCPS 411 Update and on the Parent Academy Facebook page throughout the school year.

We look forward to announcing the February winner later this month!

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Thank You for Participating on Wear Red Day!

On February 4, HCPS encouraged staff members to wear red clothing in recognition of, and to raise awareness for, heart disease. The HCPS Staff Wellness Committee held a raffle for all participants. Employees were asked to submit a photo of themselves wearing red via email or social media, using the hashtag #HCPShealth, to be entered for a chance to win!

Congratulations to Susan Taylor, of Bel Air High School, who was randomly chosen as the winner of a CareFirst collapsible chair!

The HCPS Staff Wellness Committee would like to thank everyone who participated in wearing red to show recognition and raise awareness for heart disease.

February is Heart Health Month, and if you are looking for more information relating to heart health and wellness, visit the HCPS Staff Wellness webpage on hcps.org. Each month you will find information related to overall health and wellness, including physical challenges, healthy recipes, mindfulness activities, and more!

HCPS Health Challenge, Presented by QuaranTeam5

The physical and mental health of our teachers and staff is important to the QuaranTeam5. They are committed to keeping a focus on the health of our colleagues by creating the HCPS Health Challenge.

The QuaranTeam5 is challenging you to participate in activities to support staying fit - both mentally and physically. Click here to see the challenges! When you participate in any challenge, submit a photo or screenshot here to enter to win a prize. You can also share your commitment to health using the hashtag #HCPSHealth on social media.

The more challenges you complete, the more entries to win! The first 50 teachers to participate will receive the book, 180 Days of Self Care for Busy Educators! Two lucky winners will receive a Nutri Ninja Pro Single Serve Blender, and one winner will receive a CareFirst gift package!

HCPS Customer Satisfaction Survey Link Encouraged in Email Signature Lines

We recognize customer service as a vital component of an organization's culture that, in our case, ultimately affects overall student success. To ensure that HCPS remains accountable for delivering top-notch customer service, we are encouraging all HCPS employees to add a link to a customer satisfaction survey to the signature line of their HCPS emails. To do so, simply copy and paste this into your current signature line:

Click here to take a brief customer satisfaction survey.

In addition, the link to the survey is accessible in the footer on hcps.org.

The responses to this survey will greatly help us gauge our current level of service and identify opportunities for improvement. Survey responses and data are collected and monitored by Judy Simon, HCPS Customer Service Specialist.

NEW: Upcoming Webinar Workshop: Investment Basics

If you are new to investing or simply need some direction, then this complimentary workshop is for you. From an overview of investing and investment concepts, to terminology and how to deal with market volatility, MetLife’s Investing 101 will help you sort it out.

Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Time: 5:00-6:00 p.m.

If asked for company name, enter Harford County Public Schools

Click here to reserve your spot! Register online now. Space may be limited.

On the fence? Here's a sneak peek of what to expect. Spouses and partners are welcome!

BurnAlong Virtual Wellness: Invite Your Family and Friends

Did you know you can invite up to four of your family members and friends to create free BurnAlong accounts to participate in various virtual wellness activities together? It’s easy. To add family and friends:

1. Go to your profile picture and select Sub Accounts.

2. Select “Add Sub Account.”

3. Complete the fields on the screen and select “Add.”

To take a virtual class with your friends, family members, and co-workers:

1. Select the class you want to take.

2. Click Schedule and select up to three (3) contacts.

3. Click “Schedule Now,” and your invitees will be notified.

As a reminder, BurnAlong is our health and wellness partner who provides you and your family with access to 1,000’s of online classes from 1,000+ local instructors at no cost to you. To activate your complimentary account, get started by visiting https://fit.burnalong.com/hcps. If you have any trouble accessing your account, contact customercare@burnalong.com.

Find out more about BurnAlong in this brief video.

Home COVID-19 Tests Now Reimbursable Under Your Medical Plan

The federal government now requires commercial health plans to cover the cost of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for members beginning January 15, 2022. This policy will remain in effect for the duration of the Federal Public Health Emergency. We recognize the important role testing, along with vaccines and boosters, has played in the effort to battle the pandemic. Over-the-counter at-home tests have been in limited supply over the last few weeks, and finding tests can be challenging. The process CareFirst has put in place empowers members to buy and submit claims for tests purchased through online vendors and retail locations of their choosing.

Reimbursement Eligibility: You may be eligible to receive reimbursement for up to eight (8) over-the-counter COVID-19 at-home tests per covered individual in the household per 30-days without a healthcare provider order or clinical assessment. If multiple tests are sold in one package, i.e., if one package includes two tests, it counts as two tests and not one test package toward the quantity limit. Tests that can be purchased at a retail location or online but are then sent to a lab for processing are not covered unless accompanied by a doctor's order. To be eligible for reimbursement, the purchased COVID-19 tests:

  • must be purchased on or after January 15, 2022
  • must be for personal diagnostic use
    - used to identify the potential COVID-19 infection
    - not be used for employment purposes
    - not used for surveillance testing
  • will be self-administered with results that can be self-read
  • will not be resold, given, or supplied to persons other than family members covered under the same policy
  • will not be reimbursed by another source

Reimbursement Submission Process: Members must complete a claims form and mail it to CareFirst. To print and mail your claim form, log in to My Account; choose the Plan Documents tab, then Forms. Next, select the appropriate form for your claim. Once you have your claim form:

  • Complete and sign the form.
  • Attach the required documentation to include:
    - The purchase receipt documenting the date of purchase and price, and
    - Universal Product Code (the barcode and 12-digit-number that typically runs below) from the over-the-counter-COVID-19 test packaging.
    - Signed completed attestation confirming and acknowledging that the purchased over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 test meeting eligibility guidelines to assist in ensuring tests are accessible and affordable for those who need them.
  • Mail everything to CareFirst according to the directions on the form. Reimbursement will come directly from CareFirst and not HCPS.

CareFirst Wellness Announcements

February is American Heart Month

This month is all about bringing awareness to the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States, heart disease. Did you know that approximately 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year? That is 1 in every 4 deaths. Luckily, living a healthy lifestyle and incorporating healthy habits such as regular physical activity, having a healthy diet, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight will help keep blood pressure and cholesterol at a normal level and reduce the risk of heart disease or a heart attack. To learn more, click here to view CareFirst's February Wellness Newsletter.

CareFirst February Recipe – Heart Healthy Fajitas

This healthy fajita recipe is an explosion for your taste buds. Enjoy healthy veggies paired with vibrant spices for a delicious meal for one. Click here to view the full recipe.

Upcoming Wellness Webinar: A Heart Healthy Diet

February 18, 2022, at 1:00 p.m.

Learn about the benefits of eating a heart-healthy diet and how to incorporate these meals into your day. Click here on February 18 at 1:00 p.m. to attend the event. (Meeting ID: 987 4596 6975, Passcode: 621347)

If you cannot attend the live event, the session will be recorded and posted to the HCPS Staff Wellness page.

CareFirst ShareCare February Challenge: Jump-Start Your Heart

Show yourself some love this February. Improve your cardiovascular health by stressing less, exercising more, getting adequate sleep, and eating a nutritious diet. Aim to track 21 green days this February through your CareFirst ShareCare app, available to all HCPS employees, to support your heart health! The challenge runs from February 1 to February 28. Click here to learn more about how to participate.

Registration Available Now: Heart Smart Cooking Demonstration

Virtual Event Date: February 16, 2022, at 6:00 p.m.

This free event is available to all employees of Harford County Public Schools. Learn new skills in the kitchen yourself, or invite your friends and family over for a fun virtual cooking demonstration. Our February cooking demonstration is set to inspire participants to prepare nutritious meals at home by showing them how to create a simple, healthy three-course meal. Participants will learn about techniques for making their meals healthier and receive recipes to practice their new culinary skills in the comfort of their homes. If you cannot attend the live event, the session will be recorded and posted to the HCPS Staff Wellness page.

Click here to register. Webinar information, recipes, and materials will be emailed to those registered participants two days before the event date.

CareFirst Members: Will You Find the Golden Ticket?

Beginning February 1 through April 30, all CareFirst Members registered for their Well-being Platform powered by Sharecare will be eligible for the Golden Ticket!

What is the Golden Ticket Promotion? Every month, 60 randomly selected members will have a Golden Ticket image on their Well-being platform timeline. Lucky winners will each receive a $25 Visa® Virtual Gift Card! To claim your prize, you must find the Golden Ticket on your Sharecare timeline located in the CareFirst ShareCare app and click the "Claim Your Prize" button.

Ready to win? Follow these steps to get started!

1. Register or log in to your Sharecare Account! Click here to access your Sharecare Account.

2. Check your timeline daily to see if a Golden Ticket image appears.

3. If you see the image, follow the prompts to claim your prize!

Maryland Public Schools Strategic Planning Survey

Help shape the future of our schools!

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) invites Maryland residents to complete their Strategic Planning Survey, which will help guide the implementation of their multi-year strategic plan to reshape the State's public education.

Be sure Harford County voices are heard! Start the survey by clicking here.

Shout Outs!

We can't help but feel the LOVE this week! Look at all these Shout Outs!!

"I would like to provide some major kudos to SLP Jen Loper. She has been an amazing resource and support for me with a challenging AAC kiddo. I would not be able to set my student up for success without all of her help! THANK YOU, JEN! Norrisville Elementary School appreciates you!"

-​Lauren Hooper, M.S. CCC-SLP, Speech Language Pathologist

"Shout out to Dawn Zipay, Swan Creek School music teacher and technology support specialist, for always being available to help students and teachers! Dawn not only makes learning fun in her music class (ukuleles, anyone?) but she is also a true teacher leader. Dawn's commitment to our school, students, and teachers is inspiring. She accomplishes all her tasks with great initiative and a positive attitude. We are fortunate to have Dawn at Swan Creek!"

-Lisa Mullen, Grades 7/8 RELA Teacher, Swan Creek School

"I would like to give a shout out to Lisa Jones for always being so helpful and understanding when I need assistance with my technology. Thank you, Lisa!"

-Louanne Calvin, Ancient Word History Teacher, Southampton Middle School

"A huge shout out goes to the custodial staff at Havre de Grace Middle High School. Not only do they keep our new school shiny and clean, but they are also friendly and always willing to lend a hand when faculty and staff need help. We are so grateful for everything you do to make our school great!"

-Sarah Scholl, Jessica Jeffries and Candy Powell, Havre de Grace Middle High School Library Crew

"Shout out to Aretha Young in the Certification Department. Responsive, knowledgeable, and eager to help are just a few words to describe Aretha. She has been enormously helpful anytime I have reached out to her with questions or to seek clarification. She makes sure my questions are thoroughly answered before we conclude any conversation, and she follows up our conversations with an email. Aretha is a perfect example of exceptional customer service."

-Cynethia Sheppard, 5th Grade Teacher, Emmorton Elementary School

"We wanted to shout out Jason Walker from Facilities. Since the beginning of the year, EMES has operated without a full custodial team. Jason has stepped up to support us by participating in interviews of potential candidates, providing support to cover holes in our schedules, and trouble-shooting as the need arises. He's always available when we call him and carries a positive attitude despite the various challenges we've faced. Thanks for all you do!"

-Rebecca Spencer and Jenn Vlangas, Administrators, Emmorton Elementary School

"I would like to give a special shout out to the Admin at Abingdon Elementary School! February is kindness month, and every Wednesday they have something amazing for the staff. [See picture below.] Stacey, Robin, and Kori really make us feel loved! They are the best!"

-Kelly Ziegler, Special Ed Paraeducator, Abingdon Elementary School

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Welcome to HCPS!

Please join us in welcoming the following new hires to the HCPS family:

  • Natalie Hill, Speech Language Pathologist, John Archer School
  • Heather Fox, Inclusion Helper, Roye-Williams Elementary School
  • Julia Shepard, Paraeducator, John Archer School
  • Jennifer Keefer, Paraeducator, Hickory Elementary School
  • Delicia Webb, Inclusion Helper, George D. Lisby Elementary School at Hillsdale
  • Cali Tyson, School Bus Attendant, Transportation Department
  • Gregory Melton, School Bus Attendant, Transportation Department
  • Lynn Parker, Administrative Support Specialist for Payroll, Business Services Department

Office of Communications and Family Outreach

Editor: Lindsay Bilodeau, communications specialist

To submit an HCPS Shout Out or recognize a colleague in the Spotlight on Customer Service, please email the information and photo (if available) to HCPS.411@hcps.org.