HCPS 411 Update

June 11, 2020

Weekly Video Message From Superintendent Bulson

Please take a moment to watch this week's video message from Dr. Bulson, also available on the HCPS YouTube channel.
June 11, 2020 Important Message from Superintendent Bulson

HCPStogether Campaign

As the 2019-2020 school year comes to a close, we look to the 2020-2021 school year. We don’t know exactly what will come this summer or in the fall. We do know that whatever learning looks like, whether digital or in-person, together, we can embrace change to move forward.
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Limited HCPS Office Availability As Of June 17

Beginning on June 17, if it is required for the productivity of office staff to return to their work site they will be able to do so, following safety measures and guidelines provided by the CDC and Health Department. Those employees with the ability to remain productive working at home should continue to do so. For questions regarding this information and/or to make arrangements, if needed, to go to their work site, employees should contact their supervisor.
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COVID-19 Work-from-Home Employee Expenses

Employees who worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic may qualify to have certain non-incidental expenses reimbursed by HCPS. Increased expenses that were a direct result of the employee performing his/her job responsibilities while working from home, and for which HCPS was unable to provide a system solution for the expenses, may be covered. Employees need to submit the reimbursement form with appropriate documentation to their direct supervisor by July 1, 2020. Principals and Supervisors should forward request to the appropriate Executive Director. Each request will be reviewed and considered for reimbursement.

Parent Academy Virtual Real Talk: #leadwithlove

During this virtual Parent Academy Real Talk segment, Dr. Paula Stanton, Manager of Equity and Cultural Proficiency, shares suggestions and resources for parents on teaching and talking with their children about race.
Parent Academy Virtual Real Talk: #leadwithlove

Parent Academy Virtual Real Talk: HCPS Students #leadwithlove

During this virtual Parent Academy Virtual Real Talk segment, Christian Walker, Student Member of the Board of Education of Harford County and Phoebe Bailey, Incoming Student Member of the Board of Education of Harford County, share how student leaders are working to address issues of racism and discrimination in their schools and communities.
6 11 2020

Important Healthcare Flexible Spending Account Announcement

Changes are in effect for the 2020 calendar year only.

As part of the CARES Act, which was enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS has enacted numerous changes to current laws governing the Healthcare and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts. The following information below is to notify you of the changes that have been implemented:

Over-The-Counter Medications Covered

Participants of the health care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) may now use account funds to pay for over-the-counter medications. Medications like Tylenol®, Zyrtec®, and more will now be available for purchase with your FSA monies without a prescription. The CARES Act temporarily reverses the provision that required FSA users to obtain a prescription for over-the-counter medicines, retroactively back to purchases between the period of January 2020 and December 31, 2020.

If you have receipts for over-the-counter medications that you have purchased since January 2020, you may submit those for reimbursement from your health care FSA account by completing the Medical Reimbursement Claim Form, which can be found here.

Spend Down Period Extended

The IRS has released guidelines that extend the timeline for FSA participants to spend down all 2019–2020 remaining funds in their Healthcare and or Dependent Care accounts until December 31, 2020.

Mid-Year Election Changes

As a result of the recent IRS notice, you may make changes to your plan on a prospective basis, even if you previously declined coverage. You may enroll in, revoice, decrease, or increase your Healthcare and or Dependent Care FSA election. However, it is essential to remember that Healthcare FSA is a pre-funded account. You may not decrease your election below what has been withheld from your paycheck so far for the current plan year (2020 – 2021), or less than what has already been spent – whichever is greater.

If you have questions, please contact the Benefits Office at benefits@hcps.org.

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If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your health care provider.

Live Wellness Webinars For HCPS Employees

New Classes Provided!

HCPS is pleased to be able to offer live wellness webinars through CareFirst throughout June. These programs will be available to ALL HCPS employees and are made possible using Wellness Funds from our CareFirst contract.

Strategies for Stress Relief

Everyone is stressed. The responsibilities of modern living can be overwhelming. But is it really possible to learn techniques and strategies to manage and relieve stress? Yes! In this seminar, we will talk about the symptoms of stress, how they manifest in day-to-day life and ways to effectively manage stress. The goal of this seminar is to help every participant develop willingness to employ at least one new strategy towards feeling less stressed.

Session Date: Friday, June 12, 2020

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Participation Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4520776605256486160

Achieving Harmony: How to Maintain a Healthy Work/Life Balance

In an effort to "have and do it all," many people feel stressed by the demands of both home and work and feel challenged to maintain balance. Higher stress levels lead to compromised physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as lost time at work and lower productivity. By raising our awareness and consistently utilizing simple strategies, better balance is possible! Attend this experiential seminar and learn how to:

• Recognize the signs of poor work life balance,

• Create manageable work and personal goals,

• Plan your time productively, including breaks, and

• Distinguish when you need support and how to get it.

Session Date: Monday, June 15, 2020

Time: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Participation Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1737313441589514254

Preventing Burnout

Reviews the concept of burnout and promotes awareness so participants can take action proactively.

Session Date: Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Time: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Participation Link: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1495860324

Participant Materials: Preventing Burnout Participant Guide Personal Inventory Exercise_ What do People Want From their Jobs

Master Your Mind: Emotional and Physical Health

In this session, you will learn how to nurture a healthy microbiome through simple self-care techniques. You will also learn the foods that will make your stomach feel great, improve your mood and help your brain work at its best.

Session Date: Monday, June 22, 2020

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Participation Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7895616496260760075

KEPRO Employee Assistance Program

Conflict Resolution: Say What You Mean, the Right Way

The June 2020 KEPRO Employee Assistance Program (EAP) communication resources are here! Would you like to learn communication skills that improve our decisions and strengthen relationships? Please see the attached webinar information entitled “Say What You Mean the Right Way" and the attached tip sheet entitled “Healthy Communication During Conflict.”

Monthly Online Seminar Title: Conflict Resolution: Say What You Mean, the Right Way

Description: Identify barriers to clear communication and discuss how to apply tips for effective communication.

Date: Available on demand beginning June 16, 2020

Broadcast Length: 50 Minutes

How to Access: Go to your EAP web site: www.EAPHelpLink.com. Enter your code: HCPS and look for Online Seminars in the lower right-hand corner of this homepage, or you can search for them by title.

Available anytime, any day, the EAP is a free, confidential program to help you balance your work, family, and personal life.

Call them toll-free at 1-866-795-5701 or visit them online at www.EAPHelpLink.com.

Recorded Virtual Fitness For HCPS Employees

Attend a Fitness Class Right in Your Home!

HCPS is pleased to be able to offer the recording of the live virtual fitness classes through CareFirst throughout June. These programs will be available to ALL HCPS employees and are made possible using Wellness Funds from our CareFirst contract.

Were you unable to attend one of the live session earlier this week? Use the links below to access the recorded session.

Fitness Classes Available:

  • Click here for Abs, Core, and More: Strengthen core muscles, including abdominals and lower back.
  • Click here for Boot Camp: A fun and inspiring class designed to work all major muscle groups.
  • Click here for Pilates: This program provides muscle-sculpting, core-firming benefits.
  • Click here for Yoga: Offers a complete body workout through the ancient practice of yoga.

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

Tuition Reimbursement Information

Tuition reimbursement requests, to include (1) the request form, (2) an official transcript, and (3) an itemized receipt showing payment method(s) and amount(s), must be submitted within 90 days of the course completion date.

Note: We are aware that some colleges and universities are not able to mail official hard copy transcripts due to the pandemic.

  • If you can obtain a hard copy official transcript:

    • Please submit the transcript along with the request form and itemized receipt showing payment/payment method via email (to include an image of the opened envelope), or
    • Submit all documents via regular USPS mail to the attention of Lisa Patterson in Human Resources-Benefits. At this time, staff is checking mail received at Central Office once or twice a week.

  • If you are unable to get a hard copy official transcript:
    • Please request that an official electronic transcript be emailed to Christine Lambert (Christine.Lambert@hcps.org) in Certification.
    • Additionally, please email Lisa Patterson (1) the request form and (2) the itemized receipt showing payment/payment method and copy Ms. Lambert on the email so she is aware that reimbursement is pending.

ALL spring and summer 2020 semester reimbursement requests received will be reimbursed AFTER 7/15/20 on pay dates leading up to and including the first and second pay dates of the new school year. Employees will receive an email confirming the reimbursement date of their request once it is processed; please do not inquire as to whether the request was received. This processing timeline will apply to all staff including those not scheduled to work during the summer break and who do not normally receive a paycheck over the summer. If your request is processed before the first scheduled pay for 10 month employees (9/4/20), you will receive a paycheck with just your reimbursement (not taxed) and will be advised via email prior to the date of that paycheck.

For employees taking coursework through a direct bill partner, coursework will be billed directly to HCPS. Therefore, no paperwork is needed from the employee for the reimbursement as the partnering university/college will provide the required official transcript/grade report. Direct bill requests will also be processed sometime after 7/15/20.

*Courses completed prior to 7/1/20, will count towards the 7/1/19-6/30/20 fiscal year; courses completed on 7/1/20 or later will count towards the 7/1/20-6/30/21 fiscal year.

Please visit https://hcps365.sharepoint.com/sites/HumanResources/Benefits/tuition/default.aspx for additional tuition reimbursement information including reimbursement request forms, sample receipts, eligibility, and the reimbursement submission process. Questions regarding this information should be directed to Lisa Patterson, in Human Resources-Benefits, at Lisa.Patterson@hcps.org.

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Access To itslearning Academic Courses Over The Summer

Students will remain enrolled in current 2019-2020 academic courses until August 3. On August 3, all 2019-2020 academic courses will be archived, and students will be removed from these courses. Teachers have access to archived courses. Contact instructionaltech@hcps.org with any questions.

Professional Development Announcements

As Message from Learners Edge:

As a Minnesota-based company, our hearts are heavy at Learners Edge. Last week we witnessed the death of George Floyd, which brought an outpouring of heartbreak, pain, and anger. As educators, when we come upon challenging situations, our natural tendency is to learn; to dive into varying perspectives, to educate ourselves, and to foster understanding. Amidst disorder and chaos, we gravitate to what we know best – education.

We believe that teachers are remarkably important in the world. As teachers, you are a crucial element in guiding our children to be accepting, compassionate, and informed. Thank you for being the backbones of our communities and providing a foundation of understanding and empathy for our children.

Over the years, we’ve developed resources and courses to educate about equity and culturally responsive teaching. We invite you to use and share these resources.

Free Resources: Culturally Responsive Teaching & Diversity

FREE WEBINAR: CRT: Strategies to Motivate and Engage

Blog Post: Increasing Student Engagement through Student Led Discussions

Blog Post: 4 Steps Towards a More Inclusive Classroom

Blog Post: Curating a Diverse Classroom Library

Blog Post: Engaging Families and Communities in Students’ Education

Blog Post: 7 Ways to Become a More Culturally Responsive Educator


Professional Development for $1: Culturally Responsive Teaching & Equity

Through July 31st, we’re offering two of our Professional Development courses on Culturally Responsive Teaching & Equity for $1 each. We’ll take all the dollars we raise from these courses and donate 100% of the funds to the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, a Minnesota non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the power of community to advance equity and justice.

Thank you for being part of change through education - we hope you find all these resources valuable.

PD-124: Culturally Responsive Teaching: Awareness to Action (PK-12+ | 10 Hours* | $1)
Explore the foundations of culturally relevant teaching – what it is, why it’s important – and learn actionable strategies to ensure that students of all backgrounds have equitable opportunities for success.

PD-143: Ensuring Equity in Online Education (K-12+ | 10 hours* | $1)
Explore best practices on strategies to ensure equity in your online classroom. To reach and teach all learners, participants will investigate challenges and solutions surrounding digital equity that affect English Learners, students receiving special education, and students without internet at home. Reflect on methods for connecting with students, parents, and other educators and use culturally responsive teaching strategies to ensure equity when teaching online.

If you’d like to speak with a Learners Edge team member please email Registration@LearnersEdge.com or call 1-877-394-4930.

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Added Continuing Professional Development Course: Making Everyday Curriculum Materials Accessible

The purpose of this course is to provide educators with the knowledge and skills needed to ensure that the materials used in their classroom are accessible to all of their students. The outcome for the professional development is that participants will improve their struggling students' access to the same curriculum materials as their classmates, thereby improving the quality of curriculum for all learners.

Topic covered include:

  • Introduction to accessible materials and technologies
  • How to use everyday technology to create accessible classroom materials
  • How to locate captioned videos and make your own
  • How to find specialized formats of print materials
  • How to select accessible digital materials

This course is online and runs July 7 - August 10, 2020. Please click here to register. Questions about this course may be emailed to hcpsprofessionallearning@hcps.org.

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Summer and Fall CPD Courses

The Summer/Fall 2020 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Course Catalog is now available. Registration for these MSDE credit courses is available on HECTOR. Please read course descriptions as some will be held virtually. Register early for the best course selection.

  • Utilizing Office 365 for Educators

  • Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol for English Language Learners

  • Spanish for Communication I

Questions should be directed to Lori Gohlinghorst at Lori.Gohlinghorst@hcps.org or hcpsprofessionallearning@hcps.org.

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University of Phoenix

Graduate Alternative Teacher Certification programs provide a FAST TRACK (1 year) to teaching certification for individuals who hold a bachelor's degree outside of education.

To receive 10% off tuition cost, contact Nicole Berkebile at: nicole.berkebile@phoenix.edu or call/text (480)290-4328.

Teaching Concentrations:

  • Elementary education (1- 6th grade) (23 credits)
  • Secondary education (7th -12th grade) (23 credits)
  • Special education (K-12th grade) (24 credits)


  • Teach while taking one 6 week online class at a time.
  • 23-24 credits
  • $486 per credit (includes the 10% off)
  • Credits transferable to the aligned MAEd program
  • Complete in approx 1 year
  • Financial aid eligible

Please click View to download flier.

Questions may be emailed to Nicole Berkebile at nicole.berkebile@phoenix.edu, or call/text (480) 290-4328.

Shout Out!

"A Big SHOUT OUT to Kristina Linville, Case Management and Communication Support Teacher at John Archer School! Kris is supportive of every staff member in our school and is our go-to person when there is a question about IEP Case Management, Communication Support, Behavior Strategies - everything! She is patient, detail-oriented, and always makes time in her busy schedule to collaborate and problem-solve. Kris also mentors new teachers and encourages all staff to be goal-oriented and supportive of each other. Kris prioritizes time in her schedule to co-teach classes when she is available, provides student support during CBI trips, and enjoys pool time to support students during our swimming sessions at HCC.

During the COVID-19 mandated school closure, Kris continues to provide support to staff to facilitate many IEP meetings, organize resources to help deliver Distance Learning instructional materials, and assists parents with technology to participate in MS Teams meetings. She is a treasure and greatly appreciated!"

-Pamela Reed, Special Education Teacher, John Archer 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.