HCPS 411 Update

January 21, 2022

COVID-19 Updates

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  • KN95 masks have been ordered by HCPS for all staff and started shipping this week. The masks will be delivered directly to schools and offices, and each employee can request a pack of 20 masks when they arrive at each location.


  • Home COVID-19 test kits have been ordered for all HCPS staff by the Harford County Health Department. Shipping is currently estimated by the end of this month and has been impacted by the federal government’s home testing kit initiative.


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.

RESCHEDULED! HCPS BOE Input Session: Budget and Balancing Enrollment

The Board of Education of Harford County invites you to participate in a virtual, dual topic public input session on Budget and Balancing Enrollment. *Please note, this will be the final event hosted to specifically discuss the balancing enrollment process prior to it being an action item at a future Board of Education business meeting.


DATE: Thursday, January 27, 2022

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

LOCATION: The meeting will be streamed live and archived for later viewing on the HCPS Website.


Additional information, including how to sign up to give virtual comment, is attached and posted in the green News Alert on hcps.org.

Monthly Minute with Dr. Bulson

The next Monthly Minute with Dr. Bulson is scheduled for Thursday, January 27, from 12:15-12:30 p.m. Click here to join the LIVE event on January 27.

Parent Academy Real Talk: Inclement Weather

In the most recent Real Talk video, Mary Beth Stapleton talks with Assistant Superintendent for Operations Cornell Brown and Director of Transportation Cathy Bendis to address some of the frequently asked questions from parents and guardians related to inclement weather assessments and delay/closure decisions by Harford County Public Schools. Take a moment to check it out!
Parent Academy Real Talk: Inclement Weather

Reminder: Early Notification of Separation Incentive

In an effort to assist HCPS with forecasting budget savings and project staffing needs for FY 2022-2023, an Early Notification of Separation Incentive is currently offered to employees. A memorandum of understanding has been executed with each collective bargaining unit and includes the following information:

  • Incentive. HCPS is offering a one-time payment of $500 for employees who provide notification on or before Friday, January 28, 2022, of their intent to separate from employment with an effective date of separation of Friday, February 25, 2022 through and inclusive of Thursday, June 30, 2022. Written notification of intent to separate must be received in the Superintendent’s Office no later than 4:30pm on January 28, 2022. In consideration of COVID-19 restrictions; an email including the signed letter of intent to separate, will also be acceptable. Send email to Ms. Teri Schmid, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent at Teresa.Schmid@hcps.org.

  • Eligibility.
    1. Separations pertaining to this incentive are limited to separations resulting from retirement or resignation.
    2. The early notification incentive does not apply to probationary employees.
    3. An employee must be in good standing on the date of his/her submission of intent to separate from employment through the date of his/her separation. Good standing means that the employee has no disciplinary investigation/action pending against the employee.
    4. If the employee’s separation from employment will result in a breach of his/her teacher contract, he or she is not eligible for the early notification incentive.
    5. Any staff member who, prior to the execution of this MOU, provided written notification to the Superintendent of his/her intent to separate effective Friday, February 25, 2022 through and inclusive of Thursday, June 30, 2022, will be eligible for the early notification incentive.

  • Payment. The payment for early notification provided pursuant to this MOU shall be issued on July 22, 2022 or with final reconciliation check, if earlier. HCPS reserves the right to deduct from the $500 incentive payment any amount owed by the employee to HCPS, at time of separation.

The full memorandum of understanding regarding this incentive can be found on the Human Resources SharePoint page or by clicking here. Questions regarding this information should be directed to C. Mae Alfree, Ed.D., Director of Staff and Labor Relations, at Mae.Alfree@hcps.org or 410-588-5226.

Teacher Member Vacancy on the State Board of Education

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is doing a statewide search for certified teachers actively teaching in the state to apply to be a member of the State Board of Education. Eligibility requirements to serve as a teacher member include:

  • Be a resident of Maryland;
  • Hold an active Maryland educator Certificate;
  • Be actively teaching full-time in a public or nonpublic school in Maryland;
  • Have at least five (5) years of experience actively teaching;
  • Have not had a suspension or revocation of their Maryland Educator Certificate;
  • Have not been convicted of or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere for any criminal violation other than a minor traffic offense;
  • Is current on all federal, state, or local debt, without any delinquencies for income, property, or other taxes;
  • Provide all of the information required by the nomination form; and
  • Complete an ethics disclosure form.


For more information and to apply use these links.


Questions regarding this information should be directed to Darlene Amos, in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, at Darlene.Amos@hcps.org or 410-588-5298.

MSDE Expert Review Teams

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is seeking current and retired teachers and school leaders to serve on Expert Review Teams to ensure all schools in Maryland are on the path towards successful implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. Expert Review Teams will facilitate on-site reviews of at least four different schools over a two-year time span. The work with MSDE includes activities such as reviewing school data, facilitating on-site focus groups and classroom observations, and writing summary reports.


Teachers and/or administrators who are selected by MSDE to participate in the program will not need to use personal leave to participate but may not be compensated by MSDE for any responsibilities completed during the normal duty day. Individuals may receive the identified hourly stipend from MSDE for any work completed outside of the normal duty day.

For more information and to apply, please visit Expert Review Team (ERT) (marylandpublicschools.org)


Questions regarding this information can be directed to Heather Kutcher, in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Heather.Kutcher@hcps.org or 410-588-5322.

Device Protection Plan to be Offered to Students Again

HCPS will be offering the option to purchase a device service plan at a cost of $50. This option is available for students to purchase from now through February 4, 2022. A call went out to all families on January 20 to notify them of the plan reopening.


As with the past option, the purchase will cover the cost of repair or replacement, if damaged beyond repair, if the device is returned and the service tag is visible. The fee is per device, per student for the FY2021-2022 school year and is non-refundable. Please note that lost or stolen chargers or devices are not included as part of the service plan. The protection plan will cover any damage that occurs on or after January 24. Charges incurred before January 24 will not be waived. Families that purchased the plan at the beginning of the school year can disregard this notice. They continue to be covered.

REMINDER: Due date to complete the P-Card Quiz is Jan 31

Reminder for P-card holders. Completion of the P-card refresher quiz is due by January 31. The quiz is available on Its Learning in the section titled, P-Card Online Training for JP Morgan Chase Accounts. The Learning Path is – P-Card Refresher Quiz. Click the Arrow in the learning path to begin the quiz. Click on this link: itslearning.

Loan Forgiveness

Have you taken advantage of the student loan forgiveness programs that are currently available?


The following programs are available for qualifying teachers and school employees:

  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness
    If you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in certain elementary or secondary schools or educational service agencies that serve low-income families, and meet other qualifications, you may be eligible for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 on eligible federal student loans. Get the details about Teacher Loan Forgiveness here.


  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
    If you work full-time for a government or not-for-profit organization, you may qualify for forgiveness of the entire remaining balance of your Direct Loans after you’ve made 120 qualifying payments—that is, 10 years of payments. To benefit from PSLF, you should repay your federal student loans under an income-driven repayment plan. Learn more about PSLF now! If you’re interested in PSLF, contact FedLoan, the PSLF servicer, at 1-855-265-4038.


After you have obtained the appropriate student loan forgiveness form, please complete the borrower information section, and send it to the Office of Certification for completion. Forms can be scanned and emailed to certification@hcps.org.

Blackboard Connect5 Reminder

Employees who are coded as FMLA through Human Resources, will not receive Blackboard Connect5 communications, including inclement weather calls. When an employee returns to work, and their status is updated in Human Resources to reflect their return from FMLA, Blackboard Connect5 communications will resume. Please note that this process may take a few days to update. Inclement weather announcements are always posted on hcps.org, Facebook, Twitter, and via local media outlets. Questions regarding this information should be directed to Christina Paquette, Communications and Family Outreach, at Christina.Paquette@hcps.org.

Wear Red Day

This year, Wear Red Day is Friday, February 4, 2022! On this date, everyone is encouraged to wear red clothing in recognition of, and to raise awareness for, heart disease. The HCPS Staff Wellness Committee will be holding a prize raffle for those employees who submit a photo of themselves wearing red! Submit your photo using the hashtag #HCPSHealth and #WearRedDay, and tag HCPS social media accounts for your chance to win a CareFirst collapsible chair!

Follow @CareFirst on Facebook and Twitter, and @carefirstbcbs on Instagram for more heart health posts throughout the month of February.

S.T.A.R. Award

The office of Student Services is accepting nominations for the STUDENT SERVICES STANDOUT AWARD (S.T.A.R. AWARD). This award is presented once per semester (biannually) to a nominated member of the Student Services staff. The nominee must currently be an employee budgeted under Student Services who is based in a school or Central Office. This would include staff under the offices of School Counseling Services, School Health Services, Psychological Services, or Pupil Personnel Services. Any person, regardless of position or relationship to the nominee, including students, may make the nomination. The nomination form and supporting narrative must be submitted by May 1, 2022. Please see the links below to access the nomination form and the rubric used by the judges and consider nominating someone today!


Link to Student Services S.T.A.R. Award


Questions regarding this information should be directed to Kay Malone, in School Counseling, at Kay.Malone@hcps.org or 410-588-5251.

United Way Campaign to End Next Friday, January 28

It takes all of us to create the kind of change we want to see. United, we can do more in the community, help more families, create more long-term change. Your gift to United Way could:

  • Move families from a homeless shelter into permanent housing.
  • Provide nutritious meals for hungry individuals, children and families in our county.
  • Support students in need to keep them on the path to high school graduation and a bright future.
  • Answer more than 200,000 calls for help through the 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline.


It’s not too late to contribute to this year’s United Way collection. A reminder email containing your personal donation link will be sent on Monday, January 24, 2022. Please contact Christina Paquette in the Office of Communications and Family Outreach (Christina.Paquette@hcps.org or 410-588-5214) with any questions.

Office of Equity and Cultural Proficiency: Virtual Equity Chats

The Office of Equity and Cultural Proficiency will be hosting monthly Virtual Equity Chats this school year. This is an opportunity to speak frankly about topics of equity and cultural proficiency. The second chat will be held on Wednesday, January 26, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. This month’s chat is entitled: Interrupting and eliminating slurs in our schools: Addressing racial and other slurs in teachable moments. During this session, we will discuss ways to interrupt slurs and other hateful language in school. We will share resources such as our bullying and harassment modules and other tools that will help students understand the impact of their words.


Also, if you would like to lead future Equity Chats or have topics in mind, please reach out to Kimberly Sullivan at Kimberly.sullivan@hcps.org. Use this link to register to attend the chat no later than January 24, 2022, at 3:00 p.m.: https://forms.office.com/r/X2ynjpsujv . The meeting link will be sent once you have registered.

Academic Tutoring

The Academic Tutoring Program is currently running for the 2021-2022 school year. We are looking for short-term (“on call”) and long-term tutors. Tutors will provide students with instructional support and remediation. Tutors are needed in the areas of reading and mathematics for students in grades k-12. We are expanding the program to tutoring students in Science and Social Studies at the high school level. Tutoring will be offered for the graduation required courses in these two areas. Teachers and paraeducators in any content area may serve as tutors and will be able to identify their desired content(s) and grade level(s). Tutors will also be able to determine the number of tutoring sessions that they would like to conduct each week. Elementary students will be supported in a virtual, one-on-one setting. Middle and high school students will be supported in a virtual, small group setting with three or fewer students. Tutors will be compensated at their per diem rate. We are looking for tutors to begin as soon as possible. However, tutors can also begin at the beginning of third quarter.


If you are interested in serving as a tutor, please complete this survey form: https://survey.hcps.org/rws5.pl?FORM=Fall2021TutorRegistration.


For any questions, please contact Academic.Tutoring@hcps.org.

Updated Tuition Reimbursement Request Form and Submission Process

All Tuition Reimbursement Request Forms have been updated to reflect the current tuition reimbursement submission process. The revised forms can be found on hcps.org (under forms and documents) or the Tuition Reimbursement SharePoint page. Please be sure that you utilize the forms with the 01/2022 date in the lower right-hand corner of the form when submitting your request.


As a reminder, 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 PDF document. A separate email should be submitted with all other required documentation (as separate PDF attachments): tuition reimbursement request forms, itemized receipt, payment detail, if needed.


Reminder:

Tuition reimbursement requests, to include:

1. An official transcript,

2. The Partial Reimbursement Request form which aligns with your union, and

3. 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

Getting Into The Right Frame of Mind for 2022

Presented by KEPRO Employee Assistance Program


The January KEPRO EAP resources are here! Are you looking for ways to approach 2022 with a fresh perspective? Reframing is an excellent way to check in with yourself and see a situation differently. This session will help you think about things realistically with a positive focus by using practical steps to guide your way through 2022. Click here to learn more.


Date: Available on demand beginning January 18, 2022

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.


Employees and their family members can call KEPRO 24-hours per day, seven days per week toll-free at (866) 795-5701 to visit their website online at www.EAPhelplink.com.

Upcoming Webinar Workshop: Tax Strategies

While some tax strategies are easy to accomplish, others may take some planning. That’s why we’re pleased to offer MetLife’s Tax Strategies: The Basics and Beyond; a complimentary 60-minute workshop where you will learn about the tax planning steps, including tax basics, diversification, cutting your tax bill and when to call a professional.


Date: Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Time: 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.


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


Still 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.

Save the Date: Health and Wellness Mini Masterclass Sessions

In partnership with CareFirst, #HCPShealth is excited to provide employees with the opportunity to participate in live 15-minute Mini Masterclass sessions throughout January on various health-related topics. Join us for the remaining session:


To participate in the live event, click on the date and time above. You can also access the event through the Wellness Calendar link on the HCPS Staff Wellness Webpage. If you cannot view the live event, the session will be recorded and posted to the HCPS Staff Wellness webpage within 24-48 business hours of the event date to view at a time convenient to you. (Please note: Meeting ID: 967 9932 3986. Passcode: 283152)


Couldn't make it to the live event? No problem! To view the session at a time convenient to you, click on the topic below to view the recorded session:

Save the Date: Pre-Retirement Planning Webinar

The Retirement Coordinators of HCPS, via the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System (MSRPS), would like you to save the date of Wednesday, February 9, 2022, at 4:00 p.m. for a webinar for HCPS employees. As always, this webinar will provide vital retirement information to all members within eight (8) years of retirement, whether it is regular or early service. Please note: this webinar is a condensed version of our annual pre-retirement webinar held each fall.

A registration form and event link will be provided closer to the event date.

Shout Outs!

"I would like to recognize Sarah Scholl for being an exceptional co-teacher during a recent research project about Ancient Greek Contributions. Ms. Scholl develops fantastic lessons and collaborates willingly with her co-teachers. Teaching with Sarah is so enjoyable because we team-up to help students ask questions and think deeper. With both of us, we have the ability to sit down with students and assist in their learning in truly meaningful ways. I can't wait for our next project together! Thanks Ms. Scholl!"


-Liz Nemeth, Seventh Grade Social Studies, Havre de Grace Middle School


"I am shouting out to Erin Lange for stepping into a position that had some big shoes to fill. Erin is rocking her heels and bringing fresh knowledge and light to the Office of Social Sciences. It was time for a change, and I am thrilled to be working with her. Change and new ideas are always a good thing even though many frown upon the unknown. I see nothing but good things ahead for our department. If you haven’t had the fortune of meeting Erin, you should. You will be glad you did. She is extremely smart, funny, and just a pleasant person."


-Lucy Brandt, Administrative Support Technician, Office of Social Sciences


"Our nurses deserve a big shout out. They are responsible for helping to keep COVID-19 out of our schools. This is a job above and beyond their usual duties and takes up all of their days. Eliza Willis is the nurse at Swan Creek School and she works diligently every day to accomplish this goal. Let’s support them as much as we can. Thanks to Ms. Willis and all school nurses!"


-Nancy Miller, Paraeducator, CEO


"Shout out to my amazing co-teacher Corrie Hennigan at Swan Creek School! Corrie is an outstanding special educator; she is patient, kind, knowledgeable, and caring. She also makes every day fun with her positive attitude! Our middle school students love when Corrie participates in our special Friday Fun days. She sported a pink wig for Breast Cancer Awareness, dressed up for Book Character Day, and donned her footie pajamas for PJ Day. Corrie is always available to help students and truly believes that every child can learn."


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

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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.