HCPS 411 Update

February 3, 2022

COVID-19 Updates

Please take note that a new operational status went into effect February 1, 2022. The current COVID-19 transmission status for Harford County, as determined by the CDC, is “high.”

  • KN95 masks have been ordered by HCPS for all staff. Schools have begun to receive their shipments. Each employee can request a pack of 20 masks when they arrive at each location.

  • The COVID-19 Home Test kits purchased by the Health Department have begun to arrive. We will distribute them continuously as they arrive.

January 27 Monthly Minute With Dr. Bulson

Were you unable to join the Monthly Minute live last week? No worries - we have you covered! Click below to watch Dr. Bulson's latest Monthly Minute message from January 27, 2022.

To view a complete archive of all past Monthly Minute videos, visit the Monthly Minute page on our website by clicking here.

Monthly Minute with Dr. Bulson. Jan 27 , 2022

Inclement Weather Days Survey

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has developed an option for local school systems to repurpose inclement weather days as virtual school days. In MSDE's Inclement Weather Virtual Day Plan, there is a requirement of a minimum of four (4) hours of synchronous instruction for all students on each virtual inclement weather day, and attendance will be taken for all students and teachers on these days. As a reminder, synchronous instruction is live virtual instruction provided directly to students in an interactive fashion. In this plan, there will be opportunities for students to make up work missed during virtual inclement weather days.

We value your input. HCPS wants to know from you if you prefer inclement weather days to be school system closures (to be made up at the end of the school year in June) as they are now, or if you prefer we implement virtual instruction days in the future. Please share your feedback by completing this short form. Responses will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on February 17, 2022, at which time we will review and consider all feedback from teachers, administrators, parents/guardians, students, and community stakeholders, and decide how HCPS will handle future inclement weather days.

Thank you for your time and input!

Quarantine Student Support, September 22, 2021 through March 31, 2022

In continued support of quarantined students due to COVID-19 exposure, principals may need volunteers (teachers and Education Support Personnel [ESP]) to support quarantined students. All teachers are responsible for providing make-up instructional materials for all students on their class roster; however, a principal may use the volunteer pool funds to support teachers in providing make-up work to students who are out due to quarantine or isolation outside the duty day. The volunteer pool will be operational through March 31, 2022.

  • Teachers and ESPs may:
    - Assist with pulling additional resources for students.
    - Provide office hours to quarantined students in their respective schools.
    - Assist parents/guardians with questions regarding academic support during the quarantine.
    - Discuss tutoring options with parents and guardians through the Harford County Public Library and HCPS.

Compensation for teachers and ESPs is outlined in the chart below.

  • Principals received an allotment from a central office budget line item to access funds for compensation.
  • Payroll must be:
    - Completed every two weeks per Federal guidelines.
    - School secretary submits completed Special Program Form through Adobe Sign to principal/assistant principal for initial signature.
    - School secretary assigns Katie Addington (Office of Supplemental Instruction and Tutoring) as a certified recipient in Adobe Sign.
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Questions regarding this information should be directed to Rebecca Pensero, in the Office of Supplemental Instruction and Tutoring, at Rebecca.Pensero@hcps.org.

New Location - Transportation Department

The Transportation Office is pleased to announce that it has moved into its new office space located in the Harford County Shared Fleet Maintenance Facility. The new address is 1304 Enterprise Court, Bel Air, MD 21014. The phone number is the same; however, callers will need to utilize the entire 10-digit number. The courier service is still in operation for the new building. Please make sure mail is addressed to the attention of the Harford County Public Schools Transportation Department.

The HCPS garage is tentatively scheduled to move into the new building on February 22, 2022. Further details will be forthcoming for those who utilize the HCPS vehicle maintenance services.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to Cathy Bendis, in Transportation, at Cathy.Bendis@hcps.org or 410-638-4092.

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.

Family Friendly School Award Nominations Window Now Open!

Calling all nominations for the February Family Friendly School Award!

Nominations for the award are being accepted now through 11:59 p.m. on February 8.

***ONLY nominations submitted during this window will be considered for this month's award.***

It takes just a few minutes to nominate a school...access the link to nominate here: https://www.hcps.org/parents/parentacademy/familyfriendlyschools.aspx.

Please spread the word! Help your school be celebrated for their efforts to communicate well, engage and welcome all families, and support student success.

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Teacher Tour, presented by 5xStronger

The Teacher Tour, presented by the 2021 Teacher of the Year finalists, known as 5xStronger, has begun! For their first stop, 5xStronger recognized Emily Cox, of Roye-Williams Elementary School! Emily was recognized for being a teacher "marigold." In the gardening world, a marigold is a companion plant. When it is planted near another plant, it will help that plant to grow big, strong, and healthy. Protected by its marigold, the other plant has a greater chance of survival. It is vital that teachers surround themselves with the resources, and people, to help grow and flourish. Marigolds exist in our schools as well. They are the people who reach out to offer encouragement, support, and help. They remain positive and steadfast in their love and passion for the profession. Click here for more information and to see all of this month’s nominees! A big, heartfelt thank you to our program sponsor, APGFCU, for their donations to our program!

Teacher Tour Stop 2: Classroom Management

As educators, we endeavor to enhance the development of life-long learning in our classrooms. Classroom management plays a key role in helping teachers to create optimal learning environments for students where they feel safe, connected, and empowered to learn. Educators that are successful with classroom management develop strong working relationships with their students, set clear behavioral standards, know how to leverage and protect instructional time, and are consistent. Do you know someone who is exceptional in this area? We would love to hear about them and share some of the wonderful things they are doing in their classrooms to promote student learning. Submit your nomination by clicking here. Nominations are due by February 15, 2022. We look forward to celebrating more of our wonderful HCPS educators, and your nominee might be the next stop on our Teacher Tour, presented by 5xStronger!

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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!

Harford County Education Foundation Celebrates 17 Harford County Public Schools Educators as Everyday Heroes

For more than 17 years, Harford County Education Foundation has recognized the district’s educators for their outstanding service and dedication to their students, families, and community through the Everyday Hero Award.

This past November, Harford County Education Foundation hosted the annual Everyday Hero Awards reception at Water’s Edge Event Center with a delectable buffet and the presentation of awards and gifts. Each Everyday Hero was presented with an Everyday Hero engraved Big Pencil, an Everyday Hero tote bag filled with school supplies, a beautiful gift from Saxon’s Diamond Jewelers, an Apple Pie freshly made by Patterson Mill High School Culinary Program, and a Proclamation from the Harford County Council.

“Our teachers continue to rise to the occasion to serve our students and their families, and we are incredibly proud of the extraordinary efforts of Harford County Public Schools educators. This group of Everyday Heroes is representative of the passion for and commitment to educating students displayed by teachers every day in our schools,” said Deb Merlock, President of Harford County Education Foundation.

The Tools for Schools Breakfast event sponsors, APGFCU and Jones Junction, were on hand to present two lucky winners with a rolling cart and organizer bag each filled with $200 in school supplies for their students and classroom. The winners were selected through a drawing during the event. The excited teachers who won the school supply filled carts were Ashley Gereli, Churchville Elementary School and Kathleen Olmstead, Harford Technical High School.

Congratulations to all of the 2021 Everyday Heroes!

Chelsea Alatzas – Bakerfield Elementary School

Kathleen Bradley – Havre de Grace Middle School

Samantha Brown – Havre de Grace High School

Nancy Fannon – Magnolia Elementary School

Ashley Gereli – Churchville Elementary School

Melissa Haberer – Ring Factory Elementary School

Jamie Hartley – Fountain Green Elementary School

Alisa Janiski – Roye-Willams Elementary School

Emily Lamborn – Joppatowne High School

Jordan McKeon – William Paca Old Post Elementary School

Kathleen Olmstead – Harford Technical High School

Diane Rathel – William S. James Elementary School

Stephanie Sauter – John Archer School

Christine Scott – Aberdeen High School

Jonathan Shorter – Swan Creek School

Shawn Zapf – Prospect Mill Elementary School

Linda Zvitkovitz – Edgewood High School

View the Everyday Hero video to read more about each Everyday Hero.

2021 Everyday Hero

PACE Forest Lakes Elementary School

Watch our latest PACE video to see how our most recent Family Friendly School Award winner, Forest Lakes Elementary School, recognizes families as essential members of their students’ learning team, and uses proactive strategies to ensure parents/caregivers can support learning at home.

PACE - Forest Lakes Elementary

Fall Stock Market Game News

Ring Factory Elementary School Team Takes First Place at State Level

Ring Factory Elementary School is pleased to announce that a fifth-grade team of students won first place at the state level for elementary schools while participating in the 2021 Fall Stock Market Game. The Maryland Council on Economic Education (MCEE) organizes this competition. The Stock Market Game is a hands-on learning tool to help students build a fundamental understanding of investing while providing them with real world skills in math. The winning team includes Abby Dodd, Peyton Knott, and Kira San Juan. Proud to announce our state winners are Mrs. Dunlap, Principal; Mrs. Fisher, Assistant Principal; and Mrs. Thompson, Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher. A special thanks to Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union (APGFCU) for sponsoring our teams this year. We appreciate this opportunity to participate in this financial literacy program.

Joppatowne Elementary School Team Takes First Place at Regional Level

Joppatowne Elementary School is pleased to announce that a fifth-grade team of students won first place at the regional level for elementary schools while participating in the 2021 Fall Stock Market Game, sponsored by the Maryland Council on Economic Education (MCEE). The winning team includes Layla Boyd, Kirra Evans, RJ Fritts, and Eddie Gallagher. Proud to announce the regional winners are Mr. Gaskins, Principal; Mr. Gipprich, Assistant Principal; along with Mrs. Thompson, Gifted and Talented Teacher, and Mrs. Wuerfl, 5th grade teacher. A special thanks to Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union (APGFCU) for sponsoring our teams this year.

New Piglets at North Harford High School

Thank you to the agriculture teachers at North Harford High School who ensured a safe delivery process for Ms. Cherry and her 14 piglets! We can't wait to hear how the students and their piglets do at the farm fair this summer! Check out the video and join us in a chorus of "awwwww's!"
New Piglets at North Harford High School!

Littles University: "Click, Clack, Moo, I Love You!"

Calling all Littles University scholars! Visit our friends at the Harford County Education Foundation by February 6, 2022, to get your copy of "Click, Clack, Moo, I Love You!" by Doreen Cronin. Then tune into the HCPS Facebook page on February 10 for a special video!
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Summer Program Positions

Applications are now being accepted for Summer Programs. For immediate consideration, interested candidates should submit an online application by March 1, 2022. Please note that current employees should use the designated internal application.

To access an employment application, please visit the Current Vacancies section of the HCPS website at www.hcps.org found under the About Us banner or click here. Summer Program Employment Information can also be accessed on the HCPS website under the About Us banner. Select Current Vacancies/Summer Program.

The following positions are available:

  • Audiologist
  • Braille Transcriber
  • Inclusion Helper
  • Interpreter
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Paraeducator
  • Physical Therapist
  • School Counselor
  • School Nurse
  • Speech Language Pathologist
  • Summer Swim Instructor
  • Teacher

The following programs are being offered:

  • Special Education Infants & Toddlers
  • Special Education ESY Elementary & Early Interventions Programs
  • Special Education ESY Secondary
  • Special Education ESY John Archer
  • Special Education Child Find Test Center
  • Elementary Summer School Learning Program for Mathematics and Reading – Pre-K through grade 5
  • Middle School Summer Learning Program for Mathematics and Language Arts
  • High School Summer Learning Program for Mathematics, English, Science, and Social Studies
  • High School Physical Education Summer Learning Program
  • Summer Swim Program

Aberdeen Middle School Healthy Market

Take a moment to watch the video below highlighting the amazing efforts happening to care and show love for the Aberdeen Middle School community through the school's Healthy Market. If you are interested in donating goods or services to support the market, please contact Eva Thornton, Social Worker at Aberdeen Middle, at 410-273-5510 or Eva.Thornton@hcps.org.

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.

Harford County Honors Black History Month 2022

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman honors Black History month in 2022 by recognizing Eliza Howard Parker and the Christiana Resistance.

This video is being shared with HCPS staff at the request of Harford County Government.

Harford County honors Black History Month 2022

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.

Health and Wellness Mini Masterclass Sessions

In partnership with CareFirst, #HCPShealth held live, 15-minute Mini Masterclass sessions throughout January on various health-related topics. If you were unable to make any of the live events, no problem! To view the session at a time convenient to you, click on the topic below to view the recorded session:

Registration Now Open: 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. Click here to register for the February 9 event.

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!

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!

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.

Shout Outs!

Shout out to Jessica Willson, of John Archer School, for being named Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year! In the picture to the right, Jason Semanoff, of MSDE, presented Jessica with the APE Teacher of the Year award. Also pictured is Joe Harbert, Supervisor of PE, Health & APE, Elementary/Middle; and Randy Geyer, Principal of John Archer School.

"I’d like to give a huge shout out to Bob Kral and Josh Oltarzewski, and the greater team of computer technicians from the Office of Technology, who worked many hours to get Boxlight Panels up and running in the newly-renovated wing at Joppatowne High School. Navigating a construction timeline, teacher needs, and unforeseen hiccups once each panel went live for teachers and students required skill, grace, and flexibility, and this team had it all! THANK YOU for all you do every day to support our staff and student technology needs."

-Alyssa D King, Instructional Technology Teacher Specialist, Office of Organizational Development

"Shout out to Mark Ressler, a Facilities Department employee, who has been temporarily assigned to Prospect Mill for custodial assistance. He jumped right in with the goal of helping our lead custodian in any way he could. He has a kind manner with the students and the younger kiddos have started calling him Pop-Pop. We are lucky to have Mark and are not looking forward to the day that Facilities calls him back full-time."

-Jill Murray, Vocal Music Teacher, Prospect Mill Elementary School

Welcome to HCPS!

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

  • Michael Hayward, Harford Youth Workforce Academy Site Coordinator, Edgewood High School
  • Alyssa Gibson, Special Education Teacher - Grades 6-Adult, John Archer School
  • Leslie Lynn, Mathematics Teacher, C. Milton Wright High School
  • Caitlin Novin, Special Education Teacher - Grades 1-8, Magnolia Middle School
  • Brett Wohkittel, Special Education Teacher - Grades 6-Adult, John Archer School
  • Shakia Brown, Paraeducator, Magnolia Elementary School
  • Rhonda McDuffie, In-School Suspension Technician, Aberdeen Middle School
  • Robin Nos, School Nurse, Emmorton Elementary 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.