HCPSS Digital Education Center Virtual Information Sessions, March 31, 2021

HCPSS Digital Education Center Virtual Information Sessions, March 31, 2021

March 18th, 2021

My note:

  1. The full digital learning center is depending on FY 2022 funding which will be determined by the county executive and the county council in April and May 2021 separately.
  2. This information session helps the school system to gauge student interest and set up the center accordingly.
  3. The student enrolled into this digital learning center still belong to a home school.
  4. The teacher in this digital learning center will not teach concurrently. They may work from home or dedicated school space.
  5. Here is the budget proposal for this center https://chaowu.org/2021/02/16/hcpss-proposed-digital-learning-center/

The Howard County Public School System is considering a virtual school option for students in grades K-12 who wish to remain virtual for the 2021-2022 (upcoming) school year. Once finalized, the Digital Education Center program will give students the option to access synchronous (real-time) instruction and digital assignments while receiving support services from the student’s districted home school. 

The HCPSS Digital Education Center (DEC) is currently in the planning and design phase. The DEC would allow students to take all classes and earn credits virtually while maintaining a relationship with their assigned home school. The final DEC scope and options are subject to funding, staffing and final Board of Education approval. 

HCPSS students and families interested in learning about the DEC option can register to attend a virtual information session Wednesday, March 31 at 1 or 7 p.m. Register using the links below to receive login information for the applicable session.

Please select one of the links below to register for a session:

Information presented during the session will be made available online following each session for those who are unable to attend. Answers to frequently asked questions and additional information on the DEC are forthcoming. 

Please note that decisions on the 2021-2022 academic year, in terms of students returning in person, hybrid or virtually have not yet been determined, and will be communicated as soon as possible.

HCPSS to Introduce Small Group, In-Person Supports for Selected Students

I am glad to see small group, in-person instructions are introduced. I hope this operation will help us to understand HCPSS’s Spring 2021 instruction model.

HCPSS to Introduce Small Group, In-Person Supports for Selected Students


Recently, Superintendent Martirano announced that in-person supports and services will soon be offered to small groups of selected students. Following is an overview of the programs and services under consideration and the criteria that will be used to identify students for participation.

HCPSS has developed a virtual instruction program for first semester 2020-21 that replicates as closely as possible what students would experience in the classroom. Educators recognize that virtual instruction is not ideal for most students; however, some students have been especially impacted and more urgently need the kind of support that can best be provided in an in-person model. 

HCPSS is preparing to offer a roster of half-day or full-day, face-to-face small group programs that will be phased in over the next several weeks and offered to selected students and families. The programs that HCPSS anticipates offering include: 

  • Special education services for children receiving the most intensive services  

  • School-Based Learning Centers for students who are experiencing significant barriers to attendance or virtual learning, or who need intensive mental health or behavioral support

  • Family conference opportunities to address barriers to student learning

  • Teen parenting program

  • Homewood Bridges program

A descriptive list of all in-person programs currently targeted for availability is provided online

Student Identification Process. Each school will identify students who would most benefit from the in-person programs, and will reach out directly to their parents/guardians next week with a survey that will provide detailed information and ask their interest in participating. Schools will also assess the availability of appropriate staff to support each program, based on anticipated student participation. In cases where there are not enough staff available to offer a specific in-person program at a school, eligible students may be able to participate at another school where space is available. 

Future Expansion of Small Group Supports. We realize many students would benefit from face-to-face instructional support; however, due to limitations of space, staffing availability, and health and safety requirements, HCPSS is currently only able to offer in-person small group supports for students who most critically need these services. HCPSS will continually assess and refine the programs based on these initial experiences, with the goal of expanding in-person offerings and participation. 

Details about the in-person programs under consideration, health and safety precautions, transportation services, answers to frequently-asked questions and additional information is provided on our website, which will be updated as new information becomes available.

Final 2020-2021 HCPSS School Model

Today, the board discussed the 2020 fall plan again. The board voted to keep the first period and second period virtual. Because of the delay of school start time, the school will be virtual until the end of January 2021. This is not an easy decision, but we have to keep the safety of our students, parents, teachers and staff in the highest priority. We hope this will create a sense of stability and peace of mind for the school system.

There will be future discussions when the virtual learning should be transitioned into a blended model under which kind of conditions in the future.

I talked about the difficulty created by the 4×4 model for AP tests and no built-in recess time in the agenda.

I talked about the distant learning model, how to improve the education quality, how to make it sustainable ( digital learning center concept), etc. I asked the superintendent to create a system structure for future online education too. For example, at any given day, around 5-10% substitute teachers work in the school. They may take advantage of the online resources we created now.

There were many other discussions related how to improve the quality of distant learning.

Here is some document for your reference.

The board extended the first stage of one period of virtual learning (in the document) to two periods.