Fall 2021 USNA Admissions Candidate Visits

2021 United States Naval Academy Admission Candidate Visit

Senator Van Hollen’s office is excited to share the information below regarding admissions candidate visits to the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA).  We encourage you to share this invitation with students and others who may be interested in attending.  Please note that these visits are intended for current high school seniors and others applying for admission to USNA this year.

If you have any questions, please contact USNA Admissions at (410) 293-1858 or online at https://www.usna.edu/Admissions

Senator Van Hollen is very responsive to constitutes. I had the honor to meet him a few times in the past.

2021 Update on Cafeteria Protocols and Self Check Reminders

These are latest update for the school opening on August 30,2021.

Last week, a message was sent detailing several updates related to the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Below is additional information authorized by the superintendent related specifically to cafeteria protocols and the self check process that every family will be expected to perform daily before sending their child to school.

Cafeteria Updates

There are several updates related to cafeteria protocols to further reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19. All schools will have outdoor eating spaces available on campus for student use as weather and staffing permits to lessen the number of students in the cafeteria. In an effort to maintain a healthy environment in cafeterias, the following actions are being implemented: 

  • Additional tables have been ordered and will be distributed to schools to help ensure outside eating areas are furnished as well as to allow maximum spacing indoors. 

  • Based on the availability of products from vendors, large tents that are compliant with local code will be provided to elementary schools to increase outdoor dining spaces. We anticipate a number of tents will be in place to begin the school year with additional tents being provided in September.

  • Plexiglass shields for indoor cafeteria tables are being secured for grades k-6 where students are largely unable to be vaccinated. These panels will provide additional protection between students who are unable to be vaccinated while eating when masks cannot be worn.


COVID-19 Self-Screening Symptoms Self Check

Parents/guardians should keep their children home if they are experiencing symptom(s) associated with any communicable disease, including COVID-19. In addition, parents/guardians are to perform the following COVID-19 health check every day before the student leaves home.

A child should NOT come to school with any of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.4 degrees or higher

  • Sore throat

  • Cough

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Diarrhea or vomiting

  • New onset of severe headache (especially with fever), or

  • New loss of taste or smell


For persons with chronic conditions such as asthma, the symptoms should represent a change from baseline.

Children exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 may not attend school. 

Please visit the HCPSS website for additional information on self screening, contact tracing and quarantining procedures. Additionally, visit the HCPSS website for more information on the 2021-2022 school year and answers to frequently asked questions.

Important 2021-2022 School Bus Transportation Update ( driver shortage, longer bus ride)

Important 2021-2022 School Bus Transportation Update ( driver shortage, longer bus ride)

Dear HCPSS families,

On Monday, August 30, 2021, HCPSS schools will welcome approximately 58,000 students back into our school buildings amidst many challenges that linger while the pandemic continues. One such challenge is a significant shortage of bus drivers.

Despite the efforts of partner organizations and groups across the county this summer to assist bus contractors in attracting more drivers, HCPSS contractors currently have only 80% of the drivers necessary to cover all routes, which equates to 93 current vacancies. School districts in many of our neighboring counties and across the United States are experiencing a similar driver shortage. 

In order to provide transportation services to all eligible students by using the existing buses and drivers available, many bus routes and bus stops will look different than what families have experienced in past years.

To accommodate the shortage in drivers, buses will run double routes for some schools, picking up and dropping off students in groups. For example, a bus would pick up and drop off students assigned to Group A and then circle back to pick up Group B. This will create a larger-than-typical window of time between when the first students are dropped off at school and the time instruction begins. The first group of students will be dropped off at school approximately 30 minutes prior to the arrival time of the second group. All students will have at least 10 minutes for breakfast prior to the start of the instructional day. The same process will take place after school with the goal of no more than 30 minutes between the time the first and second groups leave school. 

Students who are at school and awaiting instruction or bus pickup will be supervised by HCPSS staff. Please note that this will not impact the number of instructional hours students receive.

Though families are used to receiving their bus schedules two weeks prior to the start of the school year, HCPSS asks for your patience and understanding as we work through challenges with developing bus routes for this school year. The bus locator will be available on the HCPSS website by Tuesday, August 24.

When the full bus schedules are finalized and available online, all bus riders will have scheduled pickup and drop-off times to support families in their planning.

HCPSS staff will monitor bus ridership and driver vacancies and make adjustments to the schedule as we are able. It is our goal to limit the number of instances buses must double back for additional students and to minimize the impact on students and families. 

Anyone interested in becoming a driver is encouraged to call the HCPSS Transportation Office at 410-313-6732 as soon as possible.

HCPSS Eliminates Health Fund Deficit Two Years Ahead of Schedule

HCPSS Eliminates Health Fund Deficit Two Years Ahead of Schedule

 July 12, 2021

This press release is being sent jointly by the Howard County Public School System and County Executive’s Office

Ellicott City, Maryland — Howard County Public School System Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano, joined by Board of Education Chair Dr. Chao Wu, County Executive Calvin Ball, County Council Chair Liz Walsh, and system and county leaders, today announced the school system’s health fund deficit will be eliminated this year (fiscal year 2022) – two years ahead of schedule.

The deficit, which began in 2015 and was first discussed publicly in May 2017 by then newly hired Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano, grew to $39.2 million before a combination of several efforts were implemented to halt the continuing deficit growth. The first step was to begin to fully fund actuarially projected health insurance costs and then begin to pay down the deficit. In 2019, a plan was jointly developed by the Superintendent and County Executive to eliminate the deficit by fiscal year 2024. Using savings within the school system’s operating budget, a one-time infusion of funds from the Howard County Government, and a lower-than-expected claims experience in fiscal years 2021 and 2022, the health deficit will be eliminated in this current fiscal year (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022) with an estimated $5 million positive balance if claims are consistent with actuarial projections. 

“This deficit has significantly constrained our operating budget for several years and limited our ability to adequately fund several priorities,” said Superintendent Martirano. “Eliminating the deficit became an immediate top priority for me and Board of Education members. Today truly is a momentous day as we can celebrate that our commitment and collaboration has finally addressed this deficit and that the Howard County Public School System will not be hampered by this looming deficit year after year. It is our responsibility and the responsibility of all future leaders in our county to ensure that our employee health care costs are fully funded.”

“The School System’s Health Fund Deficit represented a significant fiscal challenge that our Administration and County Council had to confront upon taking office. In just 3 years, we have accomplished something truly remarkable: we have taken a near $40 million deficit and turned it into a projected surplus of over $5 million,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “Our Administration, School System and Board of Education faced a daunting challenge, met it head on, and resolved the issue working together. I am proud of the work we’ve done to eliminate the Health Fund Deficit and am thankful to have good partners like Dr. Martirano, the members of the Board of Education, and our Howard County Council to make today possible.”

“This was not a problem created by this Board or this Superintendent, but it was ours to fix,” said Board Chair Wu. “Since 2017, this Board of Education has prioritized fully funding the actuarially projected health insurance costs, preventing the deficit from growing. We will continue to prioritize the health benefits that our employees receive and engage in sound financial practices to ensure we never find ourselves in this position again.”
 
“The County Council has shared consistently with the Superintendent’s and Board of Education’s goal to eliminate this health fund deficit as quickly as we possibly could,” said Liz Walsh, County Council Chair. “So much so that we voted unanimously in support of an amendment to dedicate an additional $2.5 million to this exclusive purpose. We can now all turn our attention to fully funding the present needs and future needs of our county school system and the children in our care at this very moment and for generations to come.”

The Superintendent detailed several collaborative efforts to eliminate the health fund deficit:

  • The efforts of the Board of Education’s steadfast commitment to fully funding the actuarially projected health insurance costs to stop the deficit from growing
  • The County Executive and County Council’s collaboration by dedicating significant contributions to deficit reduction
  • The strategic budgetary measures that were put in place to generate year-end savings in the HCPSS General Fund to help pay down the deficit
  • Unanticipated health cost savings in the Health Fund producing operating gains

“Today truly is a momentous day as we celebrate that our commitment and collaboration has finally addressed this deficit and our budgetary focus will not be on getting out of a multi-million dollar debt but on how the budget can support the very important programs and services that our students and staff need. This includes implementing the Blueprint for Maryland legislation and welcoming back all of our students back to school next month to normalized instruction,” added Martirano.