HCPS 411 Update

January 7, 2021

NEW! Monthly Minute With Dr. Bulson: Mark Your Calendar

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Tools for All

All HCPS educators and support staff: We are very excited to announce technology tools that help ALL students access digital school materials based on their individual needs and preferences. These include the TextHelp family of extensions: Read&Write, Screenshot Reader, PDF Reader and EquatIO Math Spaces. These are readily accessible in your Google Chrome Toolbar or can be downloaded as needed. These tools offer a range of powerful supports for all students to complete assignments and enhance studying and research skills, including:
  • Text-to-speech with easy-to-follow dual color highlighting
  • Text and picture dictionaries
  • Speech-to-text to assist with writing, proofreading & studying
  • Word prediction offers suggestions for the current or next word as you type
  • Collect highlights from text in documents or the web for summarizing and research
  • Simplify and summarize text on web pages
  • Digital math and STEM tools

Where can I find the resources to get me started?

Will there be PD offered to support my implementation?

  • Asynchronous PD will be available on January 15 through itslearning “Tools for All” course.
  • Synchronous opportunities for improving your use and sharing ideas will be available on Fridays starting January 22 and running through February 12. Signups for the synchronous opportunities will be available through the itslearning course.

Is there an example of how this can help my students?

These tools align themselves with Digital Harford, Universal Design for Learning Principles. We are looking forward to supporting you as you use these tools in your classroom and with your students.

For additional supports, please complete the Tools for All Staff Assistance Request Form.

Families First Coronavirus Act (FFCRA)

As COVID-19 continues to impact many of us in our professional and personal lives, Harford County Public Schools recognizes the importance of providing our employees with leave options as they deal with the fallout of COVID-19. Therefore, Harford County Public Schools has chosen to extend leave options for employees under the Families First Coronavirus Act (FFCRA) until March 31, 2021, to align with recent Federal Government recommendations.

Employees are eligible for:

  • Up to two weeks at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined according to Federal, State, or local government orders or the advice of a healthcare provider and or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Up to two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine according to Federal, State, or local government orders or the advice of a healthcare provider or to care for a child under the age of 18 years whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19; and
  • Up to an additional ten weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Eligible Employees: All employees are eligible for up to two weeks of paid sick leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30-days are eligible for up to an additional ten weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19. This benefit caps at a maximum of two weeks for the period of April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. If you are someone who has already utilized two weeks for COVID-related quarantine or 12 weeks for a bona fid need for leave for a child whose school or child care of leave under the FFCRA, you will not be eligible for this extended benefit.

This extension will continue under the same laws and guidelines as enacted by the FFCRA on April 1, 2020, and runs concurrently with an individual’s Family Medical Leave Act of 12-weeks of leave within their 12-month benefit period.

If you have any questions, please contact the Benefits Office at benefits@hcps.org or Kathy DeHoff at Kathleen.Dehoff@hcps.org.

CareFirst Covers COVID-19 Testing

While our entire nation works to address the COVID-19 health crisis, there is no immediate resolution in sight. Therefore, CareFirst will continue to minimize potential barriers to care for members by extending COVID-19-related benefit enhancements for the foreseeable future. Those who are enrolled in a medical plan through Harford County Public Schools can receive this test at no cost, whether the need is due to exposure or due to an onset of symptoms.

Be sure to present your medical ID card at the time of service to have your test paid for 100% by your HCPS medical insurance plan.

CareFirst Wellness Announcements

January 2021 Wellness News: The new year is a great time to revamp your fitness program or try something new! CareFirst members have access to free on demand yoga and a 12 week work out series through Sharecare! Click here to read more.

Success in the New Year: Start off the new year on the right foot – take control of all your health-related goals, compete in challenges, and earn rewards! Here is how to make lasting health changes for the rest of the year. Click here to read more.

Recipe of the Month – Chicken, Kale, and White Bean Stew: This hearty stew provides women with almost half of their daily fiber needs and men with one third. Plus, you’ll get lean protein from the chicken and beans, B vitamins, iron, and antioxidants — all key nutrients for optimal health and an active lifestyle. Click here to read more.

AVAILABLE NOW: BurnAlong Virtual Fitness Platform

As of January 1, 2021, employees can sign up for a *free* account through BurnAlong, an online on-demand fitness platform. This program is being powered by Harford County Public Schools in partnership with CareFirst.

Harford County Public Schools, in partnership with CareFirst, is happy to provide employees with access to BurnAlong. What is BurnAlong? It is an online health, wellness, and fitness class platform to help you stay motivated and focus on your well-being. BurnAlong provides classes from 100s of instructors spanning 40+ categories.

Best Part? This service is available to all part-time and full-time employees at no cost, thanks to CareFirst. Also, each participant receives up to four (4) free accounts for family and friends so that you can work out at home separately but together.

To set up your account, go to fit.burnalong.com/hcps. If you experience any trouble registering your account, you may email customercare@burnalong.com for assistance.

Interested in learning more? BurnAlong and HCPS will host an informational webinar on Wednesday, January 20, at 4:30 p.m. To participate, use the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81545115187 or dial in to 301-715-8592, Meeting ID: 815 4511 5187, Passcode: 411165.

Learn more by clicking here for the member enrollment flier. Have questions? Check out this FAQ.

KEPRO Employee Assistance Program: Reframing Your World

The January 2021 KEPRO Employee Assistance Program (EAP) communication resources are here! Are you looking for ways to learn how to step into the new year with optimism and how to be more present in the moment? See the monthly Tip Sheet for more information.

Monthly Online Seminar Title: Reframing Your World

Description: Discover the practical ways to reframe your perspective to live a more present and positive life.

Date: Available on demand beginning January 19, 2021

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

North Star Staff Advisory Group

In partnership with the Harford County Education Association (HCEA), we are seeking HCPS educators who are interested in serving on the North Star Staff Advisory Group. This voluntary opportunity involves a commitment to attend monthly advisory meetings facilitated by HCPS Teachers of the Year. Those interested in participating should complete the following survey link: North Star Staff Advisory Link. Please complete the survey by next Thursday, January 14, 2021.

New Mileage Rate Effective January 1, 2021

Harford County Public Schools reimburses employees at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) standard mileage rate for business use of personal vehicles. The IRS announced a change in the mileage reimbursement for 2021. Beginning January 1, 2021, the standard mileage rate for use of a personal vehicle is 56 cents per mile for business miles driven. Employees who are approved for mileage reimbursement should download an updated Employee Expense Reimbursement Voucher for mileage incurred on or after January 1, 2021. (This form is posted to the Business Services’ Accounts Payable SharePoint page.) Additional details may be found in the Employee Mileage Memo 2021.

United Way: Providing What's Needed, Where It's Needed

The 2021 United Way campaign kicked off on Monday, January 4, and will run through Friday, January 29, 2021. The first payroll deduction will be taken from the January 22 pay, and the last deduction will be taken on June 25, 2021 (12 pays). Did you know that if each employee deducted $1.00 per pay, HCPS could collect more than $55,000 for the United Way campaign?

See what your donation will provide - what a difference we can make in our community!

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You can learn more about the United Way of Central Maryland at www.uwcm.org. Please contact Christina Paquette, in the Office of Communications and Family Outreach (Christina.Paquette@hcps.org or 410-588-5214), with any questions. Thank you, again, for joining together as a Harford County Public Schools family for this initiative to help our county.

Title IV Grant After School Program Paid Teaching Opportunity-Last Call Teaching Interest Form & Academic Coordinator Position CLOSES Tomorrow, January 8

Are you interested in developing aspiring educators? The Office of Equity and Cultural Proficiency is looking for passionate teachers to co-facilitate virtual middle school after school program sessions with high school student tutors. The program is designed to support middle school students in developing social and emotional learning skills AND increasing academic engagement and achievement. The virtual after school program will tentatively start January 25, 2021. Please see the posted job description by clicking here.

For more information on the program, including available positions, use this link: Program Interest Form.

The interest form will close TOMORROW, Friday, January 8, at 11:59 p.m. Please contact Meredith Heldt at meredith.heldt@hcps.org with any questions.

PARAPRO Assessment Opportunity – February 12, 2021

With principal approval, the ParaPro Assessment will be available to all HCPS employees seeking to meet the highly qualified requirements of paraeducator positions in Harford County, which permits an individual to work with students in the classrooms under the direction of the teacher.

The test measures skills and knowledge in reading, math, and writing, as well as the ability to apply those skills and knowledge to assist in classroom instruction. Test administration is scheduled for February 12, 2021. The test will be from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. at C. Milton Wright High School located at 1301 North Fountain Green Road, Bel Air, MD 21015. Please sign-up and pay for the assessment on HECTOR.

Additional information related to the test, procedures for reimbursement, test prep/review and the MD passing score requirements are also available on the HR site: HERE.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to Pauline Timmons, in Special Education, at Pauline.Timmons@hcps.org or 410-588-5246.

Work-related Injuries to be Reported Online Now

Risk Management is excited to announce that the new online injury reporting system is live and now all injuries will be reported to Risk Mangement through this online reporting system. All paper Worker Compensation forms for both the employee and the supervisor will no longer be used.

Anyone connected to the HCPS network at home or in an HCPS building can go to https://accidentreporting.hcps.org/ to provide Risk Management a self-report of any injury that occurs during the course and scope of your employment. Check out the new tile on start.hcps.org for quick access.

Winners of the QuaranTeam 5 Holiday Contest

Congratulations to Christy Renzulli and Jacob Weller who were the winners of the QuaranTeam 5 Holiday Contest before the winter break. We hope they enjoy their gift baskets!

Early Notification of Separation Incentive

In an effort to assist HCPS with forecasting budget savings and project staffing needs for FY 2021-2022, an Early Notification of Separation Incentive is currently being 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 29, 2021, of their intent to separate from employment with an effective date of separation of Friday, February 26, 2021 through and inclusive of Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Written notification of intent to separate must be received in the Superintendent’s Office no later than 4:30 p.m. on January 29, 2021. In consideration of COVID-19 restrictions; an email including the signed letter of intent to separate, will also be acceptable. Send the 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 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), provided written notification to the Superintendent of his/her intent to separate effective Friday, February 26, 2021 through Wednesday, June 30, 2021, will be eligible for the early notification incentive.

  • Payment. The payment for early notification provided pursuant to this MOU shall be issued on July 23, 2021 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 MOU regarding this incentive can be found on the Human Resources SharePoint page or by clicking here. Questions regarding this information should be directed to Jeffrey M. Fradel, Senior Manager of Staff and Labor Relations, at Jeff.Fradel@hcps.org or x5226.

Professional Development Announcements

Local School System (LSS) Continuity of Learning Plan for the 20-21 school year

MSDE has approved a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) experience to award educators credits for implementing the Local School System (LSS) Continuity of Learning Plan for the 20-21 school year. This opportunity is available only to educators required to hold a certificate per COMAR 13A.12.01.03B for renewal of a certificate. The identified staff include classroom and special area teachers, specialists, administrators, and supervisors currently employed in a position in which they are required to hold a MSDE certificate. There is no additional work to complete – this is not a course. Principals and assistant principals are eligible for the credit. Once the registration window closes, the PD Office will reach out to the principal to verify the list of names on the registration, again similar to SPA credit.

Please register through HECTOR by Saturday, January 30, 2021. There will be no registration extensions. Registration does not guarantee credit. Please see here for registration instructions. Please use the Register Now button below your assigned school/location. This will ensure that you are on the correct list for verification proposes.

Participants will receive confirmation of credit(s) approved once course requirements have been reviewed and confirmed for approval.

Question or concerns please email HCPSProfessionallearning@hcps.org.


REMOTE K12: The Connected Teacher Summit

REMOTE K12: The Connected Teacher Summit, hosted by Arizona State University (ASU), is a free, one-day immersive virtual event to be held on January 9, 2021, to help K-12 teachers nationwide deliver better online and blended learning experiences. Teachers can learn and network with educators from across the country who will share effective and efficient virtual learning techniques and offer insights on pedagogy, course design, equity, wellness, accessibility, assessment, collaboration, engagement, and more.


The event opens at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST) on Saturday, January 9, 2021. You must be registered here to attend the event during show open hours.

Who will Attend?

REMOTE is FREE of charge for K-12 teachers in district public, charter, and private schools - and everyone that supports and enables the teacher, including principals, academic and administrative staff, superintendents, CIO’s, directors of education technology, and decision makers around distance learning and policy.


Hear from a diverse group of 180 speakers representing 65+ schools and institutions across 35 states.

Why Attend?

This virtual conference is free for teachers and helps them discover the most effective online and blended learning techniques for Kindergarten through Grade 12 education. Teachers can gain an ASU-Certified Professional Development certificate for attending multiple sessions and filling out a post-show survey.

REMOTE K12 summit will feature:

  • 130+ sessions during six hours of programming spread over 15 content tracks.
  • Live Q&As will allow attendees to ask direct questions of speakers and receive answers in real-time.
  • ASU Learning Enterprise and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College will be providing ASU K-12 Remote Teaching Skills PD Certificate for qualifying teachers who attend. Certificate is free of charge and based on completion of sessions and post-event verification.

Sessions will be divided into three categories.

  • Discipline will focus on tips and pedagogy by content area
  • Topic will focus on common subjects for all disciplines, including engagement, assessment, wellness and equity, etc.
  • Subject Expertise will give participants a real time 30-minute Q&A environment with experts on selected subjects.
  • In addition, it will offer sessions to support principals, superintendents and EdTech professionals.

Sessions will be available after the event through June 2021.

For more information, agenda and registering please see the REMOTE K12 site.

This is a non-HCPS sponsored event and no stipends will be approved for attending.

Spotlight on Customer Service

"I would like to recognize Jay Staab and Mary Folus for their extraordinary customer service over the holiday. On Christmas eve I looked at my checking account and realized that I did not get paid. I immediately tried to access Lawson; however, after several attempts my VPN was not connecting. I emailed Mary Folus and Jay Staab to make them aware, not expecting a response because of the holiday. However, Jay responded right away. He went as far to give me his cell number for assistance. Once Jay checked Lawson, we discovered it was my error (a number left out) and Jay advised of the bank process. Even though it was my error Jay was willing to make it right over the holiday. Thankfully, I was not hard pressed and could wait until January 4th. The 4th is where Mary comes in and works diligently all day to get my pay, as there was a technical issue with the system. She stayed late and I picked up my check at 5:30 pm. I am forever grateful for people like Jay and Mary! Thank you!!!"

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

Shout Outs!

"Jennifer Gusso (CMW English Dept.) has been an amazing technology resource for the staff at C. Milton Wright! She goes above and beyond to make sure everyone understands itsLearning, playlists, Teams meetings, and more. Her willingness to help anyone at any time, even when busy with her own duties, is truly commendable."

-Keri Freburger, Fine Art Prep., Drawing & Painting, and Photography, C. Milton Wright High School

"I'd like to give a huge (hug) shoutout to the faculty, administration and staff at Bel Air High School. Over the holiday break, I had an unexpected emergency medical procedure and am still recovering at home. The Bobcat Team sprung into high gear and provided me meals and gift cards through a Meal Train (special thank you to my counseling team member, Brittany McKinney for spear-heading!). My Counseling Crew -- thank you for the flowers! Your kind words, messages and positivity are helping me heal and I thank you. Looking forward to returning soon."

-Lori Hackett, School Counselor, Bel Air High School

Welcome to HCPS!

Please help us welcome the following new employees to our HCPS family:

  • Jeana Talbot, Paraeducator, Bakerfield Elementary School
  • Meaghan Vaughn, Grade 3 Teacher, Abingdon Elementary School
  • Eric Rosling, Physical Education Teacher, Bel Air Middle School
  • Marissa Smith, Grade 4 Teacher, Bakerfield Elementary School
  • Claire Howard, School Counselor, Church Creek Elementary School
  • Aaliyah Pink, Grade 3 Teacher, Church Creek Elementary School
  • Jennifer Altvater, Special Education, Central Office
  • Charlene Riley, Internal Auditor, Central Office
  • Miguel Liranzo, Custodian II - Shift 2, C. Milton Wright High School
  • Tasha Kelley, Special Education, Edgewood Elementary School
  • Sydni Barnes, Inclusion Helper, Edgewood Elementary School
  • Elizabeth Tomcho, Inclusion Helper, Magnolia Middle School
  • Michelle Velasco, Paraeducator, Roye-Williams Elementary School
  • Valerie Taylor, Grade 4 Teacher, Youth's Benefit Elementary School
  • Lauren Harper, Special Education, Youth's Benefit 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.