Message from Dr. Martirano, Superintendent:
Dear HCPSS families,
After careful consideration and feedback from healthcare experts, and in light of updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Howard County Health Department, among others, we have decided to implement universal indoor mask wearing for all students, staff and visitors in school buildings, effective immediately. This applies to anyone in a school building, regardless of vaccination status.
You can find our full statement on masks and other health and safety precautions on our website.That statement details student meals, air quality and much more.
Please note that masks will be required while on school buses. Masks will not be required for any students or staff while eating/drinking indoors. Masks will not be required outdoors, however they are recommended for unvaccinated individuals.
Getting our students back to school in person is a top priority and, in this case, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ I know not everyone is comfortable in a mask and appreciate our community’s cooperation as we continue to fight this pandemic.
The health and safety of our staff and students is of utmost concern. There is a rise in COVID-19 cases and we have a significant portion of students who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, which necessitates layering mitigation strategies. The use of face masks has proven to be an effective measure at preventing the spread of COVID-19 and universal indoor masking will aid in allowing us to keep schools open.
While universal indoor masking will help deter the spread of COVID-19, vaccinations are still the most effective solution. If you and/or your child is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and hasn’t received it, please visit the Howard County Health Department website for free clinics in the county and information on others in the state.
As a reminder, when students return to school, parents/guardians are asked to conduct health checks each day before their children leave home. Details on health checks and when students should stay home can be found online.
Please visit the CDC website for its most recent Guide to Masks. Information related to the 2021-2022 school year can be found online at www.hcpss.org/2021-2022. Answers to many frequently asked questions are available online at https://help.hcpss.org/. Both sites are being continually updated as new information becomes available.
The physical health and social-emotional well-being of your children is of my utmost concern. Please know that these decisions are not made lightly and are done so with your children’s best interest in mind. I am continuing to monitor and review HCPSS protocols and the ongoing health and safety in our county closely, and I appreciate your continued support as we fight this pandemic together.
Michael J. Martirano, Ed.D.