Public Schools

1-Day-A-Week Hybrid Planned For Harford County Public Schools

Written by Mamie M. Arndt

Elementary school students would have the option to return for one-day-a-week of in-person instruction March 1, and others could return March 15.

© Shutterstock
Elementary school students would have the option to return for one-day-a-week of in-person instruction March 1, and others could return March 15.

HARFORD COUNTY, MD — After state leaders including the governor and state superintendent urged school systems to offer in-person learning by March 1, Harford County Public Schools released its plan for students to return.

A hybrid model of instruction that includes one day a week of in-person instruction will begin with elementary school students and those in specialized programs March 1.

Students in grades 6 to 12 could return for the one-day-a-week hybrid model by March 15, based on the plan.


Load Error

“We have a very clear hope to get to a two-day hybrid as soon as possible,” particularly for elementary school students “to start the fourth quarter,” Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Sean Bulson said at Monday night’s school board meeting.

“Families still have the opportunity” to continue 100 percent virtually, Bulson said. “We know many families will still choose that option.”

Children who want to participate in virtual learning will still have the opportunity to participate in sports, should the school system make in-person athletics available. There was no update on plans for bringing back sports, but the school board requested an update by the next board meeting, which will be Monday, Feb. 8.

In the first two weeks of reopening elementary schools, he said staff would work to see who would want to participate.

“It’s very hard to have long-term plans,” Bulson said. “It’s hard to predict how people are going to behave.”

When the school system launched a hybrid model in October, some families held a wait-and-see position, then decided soon after schools reopened that they wanted their children to attend, Bulson said. Rather than having the school system survey families ahead of time, Bulson said it ended up being more effective for schools to discuss returning with their families.

Staggering the rollout of the hybrid model would allow officials time to gauge how many people were going to be returning.

“The appetite for in-person instruction is clearly very high,” Bulson said.

The school system does not want to turn anyone away and has to make plans to enable distancing and staffing, the superintendent said. He also noted that quarantining and outbreak protocols would require adequate staff in the event of closures.

All staff will have had the opportunity to get their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to school. “It does line up with our vaccine rollout,” Bulson said, responding to a school board member’s question about the timing of the reopening.

Families should wait for contact from their child’s school for their child’s assigned day, the school system advised Monday, noting there is one exception: Students who attend technology hubs at North Harford High School will go to their home school effective March 1, and will continue to attend classes in-person, in their home school, on their current daily schedule, officials said.

“We have a very small number of students in our hubs,” Bulson said. After distributing about 900 hotspots, he said the number of students with connectivity issues was around a dozen.

For students who have specialized needs, Bulson said: “We’re looking at four days in all of those cases.” Specific groups are listed in the plan below, and he said some schools would be reaching out to students in cases where needs may be different based on individual plans.

Here’s the schedule outlined in the Continuity of Learning Plan from Harford County Public Schools:

timeline: Courtesy of HCPS.

© Provided by Patch
Courtesy of HCPS.

graphical user interface, text, application: Courtesy of HCPS.

© Provided by Patch
Courtesy of HCPS.

Bulson said the staggered schedule would allow the school system to gain on-the-ground experience about how to reopen and incorporate some of what officials learned in the fall upon reopening for a hybrid model.

“Mental health, wellness is something we really want to focus on” upon returning, Bulson said, outlining four things he thought would be a focus of “targeted recovery time” for students:

  • Wellness
  • Building relationships
  • Re-orienting students to school buildings
  • Assessing learning gaps

Read the Continuity of Learning Plan from Harford County Public Schools, released Jan. 25.

“We know that there is a lot of work to do,” Bulson said. “We knew there were stimulus funds” for addressing academic recovery, a process he said would continue into the next school year.

Here is the full statement from Harford County Public Schools, issued Jan. 25:

Families will receive a phone call, email (content below), and text message referencing the following information via our mass communications system at 6:00 p.m. today, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021.

Good evening,

Last week, Governor Larry Hogan, State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon, and Interim State Health Officer Jinlene Chan announced their expectation that all Maryland school systems return students to in-person learning in some capacity by March 1, 2021. In addition to announcing these expectations during a press conference, they have also published a document entitled Maryland School Reopening Guidance on the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) website.

Harford County Public Schools evaluated the updated guidance from the state on how best to reopen schools in accordance with the Governor’s expectations. Parents/guardians must await contact from their child’s school for their child’s assigned one day per week to attend school in-person. Due to the updated state expectations in the “Maryland School Reopening Guidance,” we are not able to reinstate operations of our Learning Support Centers and our Fall Hybrid Model, which means that previous accommodations for students will not be reinstated.

Our return to in-person learning plan, previously approved by MSDE, is updated and will continue to guide us moving forward. You can review the updated HCPS Continuity of Learning Plan by clicking here.

Please note:

  • Students will be assigned one day per week to attend in-person learning.*
  • Elementary students will be assigned one day/week beginning March 1, 2021.
  • Secondary students will be assigned one day/week beginning March 15, 2021.
  • All secondary staff essential to the return of students will be required to report to their physical work sites to perform their required duties on March 5, 2021.
  • Meal kit pick-up locations will continue to operate on Fridays. Visit HCPS Food Services on our website for additional information and updates on meal kit pick-up locations.

*Students attending Technology Hubs at North Harford High School will return to their home school effective March 1, 2021. These students will continue to attend in-person, in their home school, on their current daily schedule.

We will continue to adhere to specific mitigation strategies: mandatory face masks, physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and other important health and safety precautions for staff and students. All families will need to complete the following, even if previously completed:

We will reinstate weekly COVID-19 information updates on As additional information becomes available, we will share it with you directly as well as post it on I encourage you to watch the Board of Education meeting tonight, Monday, January 25, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. I will discuss this information with the members of the Board of Education.

Thank you,

Sean Bulson, Ed. D.

Superintendent of Schools

Continue Reading

About the author

Mamie M. Arndt