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Howard schools, Howard Community College respond to state-mandated, two-week closure amid coronavirus concerns

The Howard County Public School System will not let their students go hungry during the state-mandated emergency school closings for the next two weeks as the new coronavirus continues to spread throughout Maryland.

All 77 county schools will close Monday through March 27. All school buildings will close at 6 p.m. Friday.

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The school system will provide free “Grab-N-Go” items, nutritious meals to anyone younger than age 18, beginning Tuesday. The meals will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at four school sites and five mobile sites through March 27, excluding weekends. There will also be “Grab-N-Go” breakfast items available.

State schools Superintendent Karen Salmon said Thursday afternoon the statewide public school closure was a critical move.

“It is crucial that we take immediate measures to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Salmon said, with 12 coronavirus cases confirmed in the state as of Thursday night.

Public schools and buses will be cleaned and a plan is in development to provide meals to children in need, Salmon said.

“I support the action wholeheartedly … it is my hope this decision minimizes the risk for our communities,” Howard schools Superintendent Martirano said during Thursday’s abbreviated Board of Education meeting.

“The health and safety of the Howard County public school students, the staff [and] the community remain our top concern,” Martirano added. “It is important that families remain home as much as possible, as social distancing is the primary reason behind this unprecedented decision.”

Students will be provided with information and instructional resources regarding remote learning on Friday. Online copies of the resources are available on the school system’s website, and paper documents will be sent home Friday.

The online resources will not be collected or graded, according to a news release. Students can continue working on classroom assignments assigned prior to the closure; however, there are no expectations for the assignments to be turned in during the mandated closure.

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All Friday after-school activities included athletics, plays and concerts are canceled. The Saturday SAT exam is also canceled. All community activities scheduled in school buildings through March 27 are canceled.

Students should clean out their lockers, including gym lockers.

School nurses and health assistants will contact families, asking them to pick up their students’ medication and health supplies by the end of the school day Friday.

Salmon also recommended that spring break days be used for instruction to make up for this break. Howard schools’ spring break is scheduled for April 6 through 13. The school system is reviewing the recommendation and will provide additional information as soon as possible.

In response to the statewide public school closure, Howard Community College is also taking steps to monitor the rapidly evolving spread of coronavirus.

The college’s spring break is being rescheduled from April 6 through 12 to March 16 through 22. The following week, until March 29, all credit and noncredit classes are canceled. More information about the second week will follow.

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Howard’s countywide middle school debate scheduled for Friday at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has also been canceled. The lab in Laurel has canceled all events for external organizations until further notice.

Martirano on Tuesday canceled all out-of-state field trips and athletic events, including those in Washington, D.C., through the end of the school year. All official out-of-state travel for school system employees also is canceled.

Grab-N-Go sites

School sites:

  • Howard High School, 8700 Old Annapolis Road, Ellicott City
  • Oakland Mills Middle School, 9540 Kilimanjaro Road, Columbia
  • Swansfield Elementary School, 5610 Cedar Lane, Columbia
  • Cradlerock Elementary School/Lake Elkhorn Middle School, 6680 Cradlerock Way, Columbia

Mobile sites:

  • Laurel Woods Elementary School parking lot, 9250 North Laurel Road, Laurel
  • Ducketts Lane Elementary School parking lot, 6501 Ducketts Lane, Elkridge
  • Bushy Park Elementary School parking lot, 14601 Carrs Mill Road, Glenwood
  • Monarch Mills Apartments, 7600 Monarch Mills Way, Columbia
  • Forest Ridge Apartments, 5890 Stevens Forest Road, Columbia
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