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In-Person Supports to Small Groups of Students

The COVID–19 pandemic has created significant learning challenges for many students, especially those who typically find themselves not meeting grade-level or course standards at the same rate as their peers. An HCPSS cross-functional workgroup has been considering how the school system might provide in-person support to small groups of students. HCPSS has implemented face-to-face educational assessments of students and has a detailed plan for expanding services to every school by the end of the first marking period. This initiative will inform the discussions and decisions of the Board of Education and HCPSS leadership as we work toward a return to a fully face-to-face instructional model.

All programs are dependent on student and staff participation. At this time, HCPSS is assessing staff and parent/guardian interest, which will determine how programs move forward. HCPSS will gather and review student and staff participation data to inform next steps about program offerings.

Student Participation

Unfortunately, at this time, HCPSS cannot safely and equitably bring back all students for in-person supports/instruction. HCPSS has developed criteria to help schools identify students who will most benefit from small-group supports. Identified families will be contacted by their school.

Identifying factors for student participation include but are not limited to:

  • Financial needs
  • Homelessness
  • Poor attendance or poor student achievement in the spring
  • Students failing courses
  • No access to internet at home

Bus service will be provided for students participating in small group supports. Bus drivers will be trained in health and safety protocols, and buses will be disinfected daily in accordance with safety guidelines.

Staff Participation

A fully trained staff is required to effectively support students in an in-person small-group environment. Staffing needs will be based on student participation. At this time, HCPSS is requesting staff to volunteer to support these programs.

Participating Families 

Programs

The following is a summary of the programs that HCPSS anticipates offering to small numbers of students in school buildings.

Cedar Lane School – Pre-K–12 classrooms: Supports students with significant disabilities who require ongoing support to engage in learning while also having other needs addressed.

Cedar Lane – Transitioning Youth 18–21-Year-Olds: Provides consistent routines for students to develop and maintain the skills necessary to transition to adult and community settings. These routines and skills are challenging to replicate in the virtual setting.

Cornerstone and Structured Environment for Active Learners at Cedar Lane School: Supports students with significant disabilities who require ongoing support to engage in learning while also having other needs addressed.

Elementary Regional Special Education Programs: Supports students with extensive needs and who require intensive services. Students require ongoing support to engage in learning while having other needs addressed.

High School ALS – Transitioning Youth 18–21-Year-Olds: Maximizes time needed for students to develop critical skills necessary for life after school, including opportunities for career exploration and preparation.

Homewood Bridges Program: Provides an early transition to a hybrid model with counseling and academic interventions will support recovery of learning and social emotional skills for these students.

Infant & Toddler Program (Birth–3, IFSP and 3–4 Extended IFSP): Replicates of the typical service model by providing individualized, direct coaching sessions that include the parent(s)/caregiver(s) and their children in HCPSS buildings. Priorities will be given to those children whose IFSP outcomes cannot safely be addressed through virtual coaching.

In-Person Family Conferencing: Provides opportunities for schools to host in-person meetings when virtual meetings and phone calls have not been successful in providing the information and resources a family needs.

Middle and High School Special (regional and local) Specialized Programs: Supports students who often need additional services to support their academic, behavioral, and social emotional success.

Regional Early Childhood Programs (RECC) – Multiple Intense Needs Class-Early Learners (MINC-EL): Meets complex needs of students who require access to intensive structured teaching opportunities, including specific errorless methodology, as well as ongoing support to develop skills in the areas of communication, engagement, social/emotional, and behavior.

Regional Early Childhood Programs (RECC) – Multiple Intense Needs Class, Pre-K (MINC-PK): Meets complex needs of students who require access to intensive structured teaching opportunities, including specific errorless methodology, as well as ongoing support to develop skills in the areas of communication, engagement, social/emotional, and behavior.

School-Based Learning Centers: Supports students who are experiencing barriers to attendance and/or are struggling with virtual learning. Staff will assist students in safely accessing synchronous instruction and provide additional support from counselors, liaisons, and/or other support staff.

Students Receiving Resource Services: Allows students who receive specially designed instruction for mild/moderate disabilities to receive focused instruction on goals and objectives outside of the general education classroom in smaller groups.

Teen Parenting Program: Supports students currently enrolled in the teen parenting program. Students will access synchronous instruction and curriculum aligned to the parenting program. By providing child care and a location for the students to complete their virtual school work, barriers to achieving that diploma can be removed.

Health and Safety

The health and safety of our students and staff is paramount. In order to provide in-person support to students, HCPSS staff have developed protocols and processes aligned to the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Maryland Department of Health, and the Howard County Health Department.

These protocols and processes are designed to limit the potential spread of COVID–19 to the greatest extent possible. Safety measures to accommodate small group instruction include plexiglass sneeze-guards, hand sanitizer stations, social distance and handwashing signage, and directional arrows to minimize contact.

Additional health and safety measures will be shared with impacted staff and students.