HCPS 411 Update

September 23, 2021

COVID-19 Status and Updates

Today’s Harford County COVID-19 positivity metrics are 5.00% positivity and 19.01 cases per 100,000 residents. This information is updated daily at approximately 10:00 a.m. by the Harford County Health Department here. We saw three days of positivity this week below 5% in Harford County, and we are watching this change closely.

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, as well as 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.

Welcome Back, Tristan!

We are so excited to share that Tristan let us join him again this year- for his first day of FIRST GRADE! Last year, Tristan shared his first day of Kindergarten. This year, we're walking the halls with Tristan, his first grade classmates, and teachers! We hope you'll join us in thanking Tristan and wishing him and all HCPS students all the best this year!
Welcome to First Grade, Tristan!

Final Research Report: Student Engagement Survey Analysis

During summer of 2020, Dr. Bulson gave members serving on the Superintendent’s Focus Group for the Return to In-Person Learning in the Fall an opportunity to offer specific ideas to improve student engagement. A member of this focus group, Gregory Bane, Social Studies teacher at Fallston Middle School, proposed the idea of gathering data from HCPS students on what kept them engaged and contributed to their academic success during virtual learning the previous school year. Dr. Bulson reached out to Manager of Research and Program Evaluation (North Star) Yakoubou Ousmanou, Supervisor of Instructional Technology Martha Barwick, 2020-21 HCPS Student Board of Education Member Phoebe Bailey-Probst, and current HCPS Student Board of Education Member Kanae Holcomb and asked them to work with the focus group to understand the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral engagement of students in the virtual and/or hybrid learning environments necessitated by COVID-19. HCPS conducted research and administered a survey to teachers, staff, and students in grades K-12. The goal was to identify engaging practices and to analyze responses to the survey’s closed- and open-ended questions.

We are pleased to share the final report with you now. HCPS used, and will continue to use, the findings and recommendations from this research report to help improve student engagement and to influence and guide the implementation of virtual and/or hybrid learning.

We encourage you to read the report in its entirety; but for your convenience, the recommendations and overall key findings are highlighted below.

Recommendations and Overall Key Findings

The findings and recommendations below reflect a synthesis of responses, from the student engagement survey and the educator survey on student engagement, across grade levels and roles.

It is important to also note another finding in the report that showed the significance of physical activity during the school day and how it contributes to academic achievement and engagement. Knowing this information could help enhance lesson planning and would be beneficial to all educators.

  1. Incorporate games and competitive activities into virtual learning. Survey responses from educators and students across all school levels identify games and competitions as highly engaging.

  2. Offer opportunities for elementary and middle school students to collaborate but provide high school students with greater autonomy and flexibility. Elementary and middle school students prefer learning activities that allow them to work with their peers, while high school students prefer learning activities that are flexible and allow them to choose how to use their time.

  3. Ensure that virtual learning has non-virtual and non-academic components. Students across grade levels indicate a desire for outdoor lessons, and both student and educator responses indicate a need for connection and socialization to balance academic demands.

  4. Encourage high school educators to assign work and implement policies that are empathetic to student needs and situations. Particularly during the pandemic, high school students say they took on greater responsibility at home and had competing priorities between school and family. Notably, high school students’ perceptions do not align with educators’ responses, which suggest that teachers personalized learning and took into consideration the interests, stressors, and preferences of their students.

  5. Conduct additional research to better understand the discrepancy between student and educator perceptions of student engagement and participation in a virtual environment. Ninety-one percent of elementary students, 90 percent of middle school students, and 85 percent of high school students report being present and participating in class. In contrast, only 60 percent of educators felt that students were cognitively engaged in lessons, 53 percent of educators felt students were engaged emotionally, and 60 percent felt students were engaged behaviorally.

  6. Identify supports for educators who struggle to implement concurrent instruction and/or adapt to virtual instruction. In addition to less favorable perceptions of virtual student engagement and related strategies across the three domains (i.e., cognitive, emotional, and behavioral), educators express concerns about the ability to meet the needs of their students and effectively manage their own time in a non-traditional learning environment.

Staff members with questions regarding the report can reach out to Yakoubou Ousmanou (Ousman) via the following email address: yakoubou.ousmanou@hcps.org.

ClassKick Webinar

ClassKick is a new HCPS webtool. Want to learn about the affordances of ClassKick? ClassKick will be hosting 45-minute webinars to showcase the tool. No registration needed. Join via the link include:

Questions regarding this may be sent to instructionaltech@hcps.org.

Balancing Enrollment Virtual Public Forums

Attending a Superintendent’s Virtual Public Forum on Balancing Enrollment? Don’t forget to register!

The virtual public input forums will take place via Zoom from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on the dates below. Please note, registration for an event will close 48 hours prior to the event date.

It is suggested the public participate in the forum associated with your secondary attendance area; however, participants are not required to attend the meeting with their attendance area listed. You may address any attendance area at any of the forums listed.

As a reminder, the Superintendent’s draft recommendations, boundary maps, and map books associated with the boundary adjustments being proposed, are available on the Balancing Enrollment page on hcps.org.

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

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.

Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinics

Get Your Flu Shot Without Leaving Your Car

HCPS, in partnership with CVS, 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.

The Baltimore Ravens CAW you to action!

The Baltimore Ravens are hosting community-wide virtual and in-person volunteer events during the month of October as part of the 2021 Ravens’ Caw to Action.

United Way of Central Maryland is partnering with the Ravens to build volunteer activities designed for fans to give back to the community. These events will be occurring throughout October.

The Ravens would love students at local schools to be a part of these activities

by writing letters and drawing pictures for veterans, doctors/nurses, hospital patients, or people who are experiencing homelessness.

All students do not have to participate. The school will be responsible for providing materials for these letters. If your school is interested in participating in this initiative, please register HERE.

Your school can also make up its own project! Run a drive, pick up trash, make kindness rocks or posters, or any other project that promotes giving back to the community.

Thank you in advance for helping the Baltimore Ravens give back to the community!

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Shout Outs!

"A big shining shout out to Nicole Sander, CJ Harbach, and Allison Panowitz – Staff Management Administrative Support Technicians, for a successful hiring season. They may be behind the scenes, but are the heart of the Staff Management Team! #HCPSshinebrigher."

-Shannon Hagan, Coordinator of Staff Management, Human Resources

"I would like to nominate Angie Herman at Joppatowne Elementary School for a Shout Out. She has been our ONLY Secretary since school started for staff and students!! She goes above and beyond. Not only does she handle all of our staff needs, she has registered numerous students and dealt with any problems from parents! We wouldn't have our Joppatowne Pride without the wonderful Angie Herman!!!"

-Michele Bane, Paraeducator, Joppatowne Elementary School

"A huge SHOUT OUT to Tammy Evans in Payroll. Handling a serious concern about pay for one of my new teachers, she walked us through the process with understanding and care…and a little bit of laughter along the way. Ultimately, the end result was what our teacher needed, and made this new principal feel heard and understood. Thank you for your great customer service, Tammy!"

-Regina Jones, Principal, Aberdeen Middle School

"Shout out to Mary Folus from Payroll, who found out one of my teachers was at the hospital with her little one, and knowing she needed her paycheck, drove to the hospital to meet her there with her check. Now that is customer service, and someone who truly cares about the well-being of our staff and their families!"

-Regina Jones, Principal, Aberdeen 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.