HCPS 411 Update

September 2, 2021

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HCPS 2021-2022 School Year Virtual Kick-Off

If you were unable to tune into the live Virtual Staff Kick-Off on Monday, August 30, take a moment to click the video below to hear messages from 2021 Teacher of the Year Lauren Byrd, Superintendent of Schools Sean Bulson, and others! Have a great opening!
HCPS 2021/22 Kick off Live Event

COVID-19 Status and Updates

Today’s Harford County COVID-19 positivity metrics are 5.69% positivity and 17.00 cases per 100,000 residents. This information is updated daily at 10:00 a.m. by the Harford County Health Department here: https://harfordcountyhealth.com/harford-county-covid-19-zip-code-data/.

The HCPS operational status currently reflects consistent positivity of 5%.

As a reminder, FAQ documents have been created for employees. The school-based employee FAQ can be found here and the central office employee FAQ can be found here. These documents, and the parent/guardian FAQ are being updated as HCPS recovery efforts evolve.

COVID-19-Related Reporting

If you are a school-based employee who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please contact your school nurse immediately for further guidance on isolation or quarantine requirements.

If you are a non-school based employee who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please contact the Human Resources office at covidreporting@hcps.org for further guidance on isolation or quarantine requirements.

All questions regarding leave can be directed to covidreporting@hcps.org.

HCPS Staff and Family First Day Photo Request

Share your child's first day of school picture with us for a chance to be featured in our back to school YouTube video! Tag @HCPSchools or use #HCPSbacktoschool2021 on social media. Or, if you are not on social media, email your picture to communications@hcps.org.

HCPS Limelight Program

We are proud to announce a new systemwide school staff recognition program that kicked off September 1, the HCPS Limelight. This program is an opportunity for school administrators to recognize one staff member who demonstrates outstanding customer service with an invitation to the HCPS Limelight event, a Microsoft Teams event held at the end of each month during the school year (September through May).

Each HCPS Limelight event will be sponsored by a different community business partner, and HCPS leadership, Board Members, and business representatives will be invited to attend. During the monthly events, invited staff will participate in a fun activator and then hear remarks and words of appreciation from Dr. Bulson. That month's nominees will be entered into a live drawing during the virtual event for a grand prize from the sponsoring business partner. In addition, all those invited will receive a certificate of recognition from the Superintendent and a car magnet.

We can't wait to recognize and celebrate with our school staff this year!

Parent Academy Real Talk: Back to School Mental Health Resources

As students return to school, take some time to watch the latest Real Talk where Mary Beth Stapleton talks with Harford County’s mental health leaders about the importance of focusing on children and teen’s mental health, reducing stigma about asking for help, and providing resources to support families in the community.

Parent Academy Real Talk: Back to School Mental Health Resources

Online Training for Staff: SafeSchools/Vector Solutions

The HCPS resource known as SafeSchools is now known as Vector Solutions. The link and functionality are the same. For the Fall 2021 course assignments, the Office of Risk Management has collaborated with the Office of Organizational Development and Continuous Learning to create a systemwide plan for online trainings. The assignments are as follows and were assigned with start date of July 19th. Some courses may be assigned after that date to ensure it is as accurate and timely as possible, such as COVID-19 related information. Some schools and supervisors may assign additional courses based on their identified needs.

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Changes to the Submission Process for Certification and Tuition Reimbursement Requests

Effective October 1, 2021, all transcripts and or tuition reimbursement documentation should be electronically submitted to transcripts@hcps.org.

Electronic transcripts submitted directly from the college/university are preferred. If you cannot obtain an electronic transcript, a scanned copy, including the envelope, may be emailed in place of the electronic submission. Transcripts should be sent as a separate document from all tuition reimbursement forms.


Tuition reimbursement requests, to include:

  • An official transcript,
  • The Partial Reimbursement Request form which aligns with your union, and
  • An itemized receipt indicating payment method(s) and amount(s).

Documentation must be submitted via one of the above methods within 90 days of the course completion date. Please do not send incomplete requests; all documentation should be submitted collectively when possible (except for official transcripts when emailed directly from the college/university/transcript service).

Tuition Reimbursement Questions: benefits@hcps.org

Certification Questions: certification@hcps.org

Explanation of Placement on Restructured HCEA Certificated Scale

Certificated staff seeking further explanation on the restructured HCEA salary scale, effective July 1, 2021, may utilize the Explanation of Placement on HCEA Certificated Scale PPT outlining the changes.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to BangTam Miller, in Human Resources, at BangTam.Miller@hcps.org or 410-588-5226.

Being Present: Switch on to Being More Present

Presented by KEPRO Employee Assistance Program

The September KEPRO EAP communication resources are here! This online webinar will help you with discovering the key to being more present and actively taking the time to digitally disconnect to spend quality time with those around you. Click here for more tips on how to do better at being present.

Date: Available on demand beginning September 21, 2021

Broadcast Length: 50 minutes
How to Access: Go to your EAP website: www.EAPHelpLink.com. Enter your code: HCPS and look for Online Seminars in the lower left-hand corner of this homepage or you can search for them by title.

The Employee Assistance Program is available to employees and their families anytime, any day and is a free, confidential program to help you balance your work, family, and personal life.

Call KEPRO toll free at (866) 795-5701 to visit their website online at www.EAPhelplink.com.

CareFirst Wellness Announcements

September is National Cholesterol Education month. Cholesterol is a substance that is found in the cells of your body. It is essential to not only building cells, but also in making other vitamins and hormones. Typically, cholesterol comes in two different sources; the foods you eat and your liver. So where do the “bad” parts of cholesterol come into play? This month’s newsletter provides more detail and information on the “good,” the “bad,” and the Triglycerides. Click here to view the September Wellness Newsletter.

Your Wellness Program is Here!

Improving your health just got easier! Harford County Public Schools has partnered with CareFirst to bring a new wellness program to all HCPS employees that puts the power of health in your hands. Access the program’s tools, resources, and personalized recommendations whenever and wherever you want – all tailored to help you live your healthiest life. Available through the program: RealAge Test, Personalized Timeline, Trackers, Challenges, Health Profile and Health Coaching, Weight Management Programs, and Financial Well-being.

This program is available to all employees regardless of enrollment in the medical plan. Be sure to look for upcoming challenges, programs, and events promoted in future HCPS 411 Update newsletters.

Click here to get started!

Get Started with BurnAlong

BurnAlong is right by your side with a ton of great programming to keep you healthy, well, and fit. First off, a brand new BurnAlong partner, LivFitCo, is now offering upbeat cycling, HIIT, Barre, and breathing practice classes on the platform. Check them out!

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 complementary 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.

CLICK HERE to watch this quick two-minute video to help get started with your online member portal.

Save the Date: Annual Fall Pre-Retirement Webinar

Through the Maryland State Retirement Agency and the Community College of Baltimore County, Harford County Public Schools announces a pre-retirement webinar for HCPS employees and their spouses. This webinar provides vital retirement information to all members who are within eight (8) years of retirement, whether it is normal service or early retirement. Discussion topics include:

  • HCPS Retiree Benefits
  • State Retirement Pension Benefits
  • Legal Consideration
  • Social Security Benefits
  • Financial Planning

This year’s pre-retirement session will once again be held virtually on November 6, 2021. Check future HCPS 411 Update newsletters for more information, including session times, agendas, and how to register.

Upcoming Webinar: Common Ways to Pay for College

In partnership with MetLife, HCPS is offering employees the opportunity to participate in a webinar on College Planning. There may have been a time when you could count on savings bonds or CDs to pay for college, but today you need to know about other possible saving options; from 529 plans to Coverdell Education Savings Accounts to Uniform Gift to Minors and IRAs.

Date: Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Time: 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Click here to reserve your spot!

Register online now. Space may be limited.

Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinics

Get Your Flu Shot Without Leaving Your Car

HCPS, in partnership with CVS Pharmacy, will be hosting a drive-thru flu shot clinic. Events will be held on various days in school parking lots throughout the county. Employees and their families (ages 9+) are welcome to attend an event to receive their flu shot.

Pre-registrations is preferred, but not required. To register, click on the school location+ and date you wish to attend.

Please be sure to bring your insurance card and identification with you. Flu shots will be billed to your insurance*. Be sure to watch for additional dates and times that will be announced throughout September and October.

Questions? Email the Benefits Office at benefits@hcps.org.

+Events will be held at the school location listed per the selected link.

*HCPS medical plans cover flu shots at 100% with no member liability.

Instructional Technology Updates

Please click here to access important Instructional Technology updates as you begin the new school year. Keep an eye out for the bi-weekly Digital Teaching & Learning newsletter to resume soon...with a *new* name!

Professional Development Announcements

McDaniel College – Fall Courses

There is still time to register for courses in both the Fall 1 (8/23/21 – 10/17/21) and Fall 2 (10/18/21 – 12/12/21) sessions. Please see course schedule. For registration assistance, please contact McDaniel’s Registrar’s Office at 410-857-2755. For assistance from a graduate and professional studies liaison, contact 410-857-2500 or email gpsadvising@mcdaniel.edu.

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University of Phoenix – Fall Schedule

University of Phoenix's Continuing Education classes are online, asynchronous, two to four weeks (depending on credits), and available to enroll monthly.

Contact Nicole Berkebile at nicole.berkebile@phoenix.edu or 480-290-4328 for 10% off tuition cost on classes or degree programs. View the single course schedule here; view all College of Education programs here.

Popular classes in Maryland:

3-credit/4-week online courses
$157.50 per credit with 10% tuition discount. Ask about payment options of tuition deferment or employer billing.

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Are you looking to advance your career with a Master’s?

  • Master of Arts in Administration and Supervision (leads to Principal licensure)
  • Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction (up to 12 credits may be waived)

Harford County SECAC Meeting

HCPS teachers and staff members, please let parents/guardians, staff, and community members who work with students with disabilities and are interested in learning about topics surrounding disabilities know about the Special Education Community Advisory Council (SECAC) meetings held monthly, currently in a virtual format.

September’s topic is “Back to School Emotions & Anxiety” presented by Kelly Spanoghe, Ed.S. The meeting will be held Thursday, September 9, with a Meet and Greet 6:30 – 7:00 p.m., Welcome and Presentation from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m., and Q&A from 8:00 – 8:30 p.m. To register for this Zoom opportunity, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcld-moqzMvGdM_Zf_fV74cTShkkiECicTF. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR UPCOMING MEETINGS: October 7, 2021 - Social Opportunities/Local Resources.

NEW CVS Caremark Service Reporting Tool

In our efforts to support exemplary customer service, a new CVS Caremark reporting tool is now available in SharePoint for HCPS employees. The purpose of this tool is to allow employees to share details related to specific pharmacy and/or mail order service. Any information collected via the new tool will be used by our Benefits Office and CVS to identify appropriate resolutions. Click the following link to access the CVS Caremark Service Reporting Tool. Questions should be directed to Benefits@hcps.org or 410-588-5275.

Support Services Superstar Award Program

Nominations for the Support Services Superstar Award are being accepted NOW until September 30, 2021. APG Federal Credit Union (APGFCU) is the proud sponsor of HCPS Support Services Superstar Awards. All Harford County Public Schools regular support staff employees are eligible for the award. Program information and nomination forms may be downloaded at www.hcps.org. Questions regarding this information should be directed to Ben Richardson, in Human Resources, at Benjamin.Richardson2@hcps.org or 410-588-5226.

PPE Donations - Reminder

Harford County Public Schools still has PPE donations from Home Depot and Target in our Distribution Center. Below are the items available to all schools and offices for free on a first come, first served basis. You may place your orders for these “no cost” items through the RQC. The courier will deliver your items during their normal schedule.

Please direct any questions to James Waters, Distribution Center Manager, at James.Waters@hcps.org.

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Procurement Notification

The Procurement Department has been made aware of price increases for various commodities and services. Most recently, we were notified of shortages in materials causing an increase in transportation cost due to trucking challenges. These price increases are expected to continue through December 31, 2021. Along with the price increases are extended lead times on most items. Manufactured items are the most impacted for longer lead times.

We have been notified by these specific suppliers of price increases and/or shipment delays:

  • Douron
  • Canon
  • Project Lead the Way
  • Home Depot
  • Home Depot Pro – equipment
  • Lakeshore
  • Office Depot
  • Amazon
  • Global Industrial

We will continue to provide updates on the Shopping Platform for those contracts that are impacted. As we receive notifications of changes, we will contact the effected offices or schools.

John Archer Physical Therapist Featured in “Twenty Years Later, The Women of 9/11”

We invite you to tune in Wednesday, September 8, 2021, at 9:00 p.m. to a special edition of Good Morning America on ABC. Host Robin Roberts interviewed our very own Amy Andrews, physical therapist, at John Archer School. Ms. Andrews is a survivor of the attacks on 9/11 and will be featured on, “Twenty Years Later, The Women of 9/11.” If you don’t know Ms. Andrews, she’s first seen at the :42 mark of this video. We thank her for sharing her story with us and the country.

Shout Outs!

  • Homestead/Wakefield Elementary School has been recognized by the National PTA as a school of excellence! It was a yearlong process that included parent surveys, school activities and initiatives, and working with the school staff and parents to meet the criteria for this award. Congratulations to all involved!
  • Congratulations to Christy Renzulli, school counselor at Norrisville Elementary School, on being recognized as the recipient of the 4th HCPS Student Services Star Award! Christy is a visionary among the School Counseling Team and works diligently and innovatively to support students, staff, and the school community. She serves on many Harford County Public Schools’ initiatives that bring important resources to students based on their presenting needs. Never has this been more true than during the COVID-19 pandemic! Additionally, Christy serves as the Elementary School Counselor Level Leader and has provided invaluable leadership and collaboration while in this role. It is a pleasure to have Christy as part of the HCPS School Counseling Team and Student Services Staff. Well done, Christy!
  • Erika Edwards, of North Harford High School, was recognized as the Outstanding Early Career Teacher by the Maryland Agriculture Teachers Association! Miss Edwards will have the opportunity to move forward to compete at the national level to represent the state at the 2022 National Agriculture Education Association convention in Las Vegas!
  • "Jennifer Marchsteiner is without a doubt one of HCPS' best! Her customer service skills go above and beyond the necessary. She is always available to help. One example on July 1st we were in a crunch to hire 6 students that another organization could not pick up for our summer program. Jennifer immediately got back to my email with a solution to accommodate our boys2Men students. Because of her efforts, barriers were removed, and our boys began working on July 6th. She did not have to go the extra mile, but she did because she understands the program and who it serves, our students. So, Jennifer a big shout out to you for being the change and assisting the Office of Equity in our efforts to serve all students!"

    -Kim Sullivan, Administrative Support Specialist, Office of Equity and Cultural Proficiency

  • "I wish to submit a Shout Out to Mr. John and Mr. Lee of the Glass and Hardware Department. They have been working diligently at Edgewood Middle this summer and repaired a door in the Health Suite quickly, efficiently, and BEAUTIFULLY. They were very professional and pleasant."

    -Barbara Polack, School Nurse, Edgewood Middle School

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.