Howard Co. public schools suspend in-person learning through end of year

Howard County Public Schools will remain in an all-virtual learning environment through the winter break amid a surge in coronavirus cases in Maryland.

In a news release Monday afternoon, the school district said it was delaying in-person learning opportunities and special education assessments citing an increase of COVID-19 infection rates across the county.

All teaching will remain virtual, and the winter athletic season slated to begin on Dec. 7 has been postponed until Jan. 4. Virtual athletic sessions will continue, and online registration for winter athletics is still available via HCPSS Connect.

There will be no change to meal services, the system said, which will continue at all designated locations on days schools are in session.

Howard County Public Schools had already rolled back its limited return to in-person instruction earlier this month after the county announced tighter limits on in-person gatherings. Gov. Larry Hogan walked back the state’s reopening on Nov. 20, reverting maximum occupancy at businesses and houses of worship to 50% capacity.

“HCPSS will regularly monitor health metrics and inform staff of a possible resumption of in-person opportunities after winter break when the health environment permits,” HCPSS said in its release, adding it takes the safety and well-being of students, staff and family “very seriously.”

Data from the Maryland Department of Health shows Howard County’s COVID-19 positive testing rate has closely followed a statewide surge in cases since late October. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate stood just under 6% as of Tuesday — its highest since June.

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