Perry Hall High Student Elected to School Board

Middle and high school students from across Baltimore County have selected Perry Hall High School junior Roah Hassan to serve as the student member of the Board of Education of Baltimore County (SMOB) for the 2022-2023 school year. Hassan’s one-year term begins July 1, 2022.

A record number of 13,169 students cast online ballots on Thursday, March 17. The number of votes cast this year is 61.55 percent more than in 2020 when the previous record of 8,152 votes were cast. Hassan received 54.98 percent of the votes compared to 45.02 percent for the other candidate, Masah Farh, a junior at Towson High School. This is the third year that all BCPS middle and high school students could select the student member of the board and the second year, due to a change in Maryland law, that the student selection no longer needs approval from the governor.

Prior to voting, students were able to learn more about both candidates by viewing their resumes, video Q&A sessions, videotaped speeches, and campaigning via social media. The candidates also hosted virtual visits with schools that requested them.

In her speech, Hassan said, “Being the SMOB means never losing faith in the power of the students. It is to have hope, unfaltering empathy, and compassion as we make necessary decisions. Until our systems reflect every single student in BCPS, there will always be work to be done, work that I am prepared to fight for. As your student member of the board, I will work to close the opportunity gap and guarantee equitable funding across the county. I will work to redistribute 21st century resources within BCPS. I will work to rewrite a curriculum that evolves with us and addresses social inequities from the root. I will ensure that student mental health is at the forefront of our conversations and that students of color and LGBTQ+ students feel safe in their schools. We deserve educational justice and a fight that ensures your voice is equally as powerful as mine on the BCPS Board of Education.”

Hassan is president of the Perry Hall Class of 2023 Senate. At her school, she is also vice president of Girls Up, events coordinator of the Muslim Student Association, historian of the Rotary Interact Club, and secretary of Mock Trial. Hassan tutors and mentors Perry Hall AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) sophomores. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, and Social Studies Honor Society. At the county level, she is the co-legislative affairs coordinator for Baltimore County Student Councils. At the state level, she is vice chair of the Maryland High School Democrats’ Women’s Caucus, co-founder/co-executive director of Mic Up, Maryland!, and legislative coordinator of the Maryland Center for School Safety Student Focus Group.

Hassan will replace Christian Thomas, a senior at Eastern Technical High School, who will graduate in June.

Masks Optional in BCPS Schools on March 1

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) announced that masks will become optional in all BCPS schools and facilities, starting Tuesday, March 1.

This decision was based on new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance released on Feb. 25.

Masks have been required in all BCPS since the start of the school year.

The Maryland General Assembly’s Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) committee voted to approve the Maryland State Board of Education’s decision to lift the state mask mandate and to give local school districts the ability to make an independent decision about mask mandates. The CDC also announced changes to the metrics it uses to determine whether to recommend face coverings.

Based on new CDC metrics, Baltimore County is currently in the low transmission range.

“With a high vaccination rate and all of our metrics heading in the right direction, I am confident that we can now safely move to optional masking for students and educators,” said County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “I applaud BCPS for taking this step.”

“The Board of Education is committed to providing a healthy school environment for all students and staff,” said Board Chair Julie Henn.  “We are thankful for the extraordinary efforts, flexibility, and patience of students, families, teachers, support staff, and administrators over the past several months.  We appreciate the continued efforts of Dr. Williams and his team to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 in our schools, preserving in-person instruction.”

“We greatly appreciate the support of all members of Team BCPS over the past two years,” said Superintendent Darryl Williams. “Working together, we have been able to follow the science and safely return to in-person learning, keep school buildings open through the Omicron surge, and are now able to lift some COVID restrictions.”

BCPS to Hold Improvement Meeting for East County Schools

Baltimore County Public Schools has scheduled four community forums during the next two months to review options and solicit feedback on how best to improve buildings, enhance school use, and provide capacity relief for high schools in the county’s northeast and southeast areas.

The forums – two each for residents in both of the county areas – are part of a long-term study on planning for
improvement in the county’s high schools. Schools under study in the northeast include Kenwood, Loch Raven, Overlea, Parkville and Perry Hall high schools, while schools included in the southeast area are Dundalk, Patapsco and Sparrows Point high schools.

Additional information about the forums may be found at Northeast Area High School Study website and the Southeast Area High School
Study website. Public input will be accepted through an online comment form that will be available to the public following the first meeting on March 2.

The 90-minute community forums will be virtual and will begin at 6:30 p.m. on the following dates:
• Northeast: Wednesday, March 9, 2022, and Wednesday, April 6, 2022
• Southeast: Wednesday, March 2, 2022, and Thursday, April 21, 2022

BCPS to Close Monday & Tuesday; Reopen Wednesday

Baltimore County Public Schools sent out an email explaining their schools would close on Monday, Jan. 10 & Tuesday, Jan. 11 and reopen on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

The purpose of the Monday and Tuesday closure is to prepare staff in the event that a school has to transfer over to virtual learning. Schools are scheduled to reopen on Wednesday.

Testing sites are going to be setup for staff at BCPS middle schools. There will be the distribution of KN95 masks and COVID-19 testing home kits.

Here is their letter to staff, parents and students:

We are sending this joint letter to provide important updates about Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) COVID-19 response and efforts to ensure student and staff safety. We also want to share information about the distribution of rapid COVID-19 test kits and KN95 masks for all students and staff. The health and safety of staff and students remains our top priority and BCPS is using all strategies and resources available to ensure that schools can stay open safely and we minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our school communities.

Here are some important next steps for our school system:

School buildings will be closed on Monday, January 10, 2022, and Tuesday, January 11, 2022, to provide staff with the time needed to prepare instructional lessons in the event of a temporary transition to virtual learning for their specific school. Staff from the BCPS Division of Curriculum and Instruction have prepared independent learning activities for all students to engage in on January 10 and 11, 2022. These activities cover multiple content areas, including science, social studies, math and language arts, and will be posted in Schoology by Monday morning. We are providing this planning time to all teachers now to minimize disruption should an individual school have to temporarily shift to virtual instruction. Currently, schools that are temporarily switching to virtual instruction are starting off with two days of asynchronous (independent) learning before live instruction begins on day three. We want to eliminate that asynchronous period and make certain that students are receiving live instruction from the first day of the temporary virtual period. Meals will be available for students while buildings are closed on Monday and Tuesday through curbside service. No sign-up or registration is required. For a schedule of curbside meal pickup locations, please visit: Food and Nutrition Services – Division of Business Services ( Schools (except for those temporarily providing virtual instruction) will reopen on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, for in-person instruction.

Additional COVID-19 testing opportunities for all staff will take place on Monday, January 10, 2022, at all BCPS middle schools from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. All BCPS staff are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this testing provided by CIAN diagnostics. The list of schools for testing can be found here. Staff members who are not required to participate in weekly testing are strongly encouraged to register in advance at this link to minimize delays at the testing site.

Distribution of rapid COVID-19 home test kits will take place on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, at each school. We will distribute 126,000 test kits to BCPS staff and students. We have ordered additional testing kits, and anticipate they will arrive by Friday, January 14, 2022. Principals will contact their school communities to provide details on the distribution of testing kits. Rapid test kits will be distributed to central office staff by Friday, January 14. Additional details will be shared in a separate email.

Distribution of KN95 masks as an additional option for students and staff began Wednesday, January 5, 2022. To date, 74,000 adult-sized masks have been delivered to schools for staff and secondary students and we have ordered 54,000 child-size masks. Additional orders for KN95 masks have been placed to build our current PPE supply.

BCPS continues to utilize the following safety measures and strategies to keep students and staff safe:

Diagnostic testing:  Testing of students or staff who develop symptoms during the school day ensures quick identification and quarantine of cases. School nurses and our external testing partner will continue to provide onsite PCR testing for schools experiencing persistent or school-wide COVID-19 outbreak.

Screening testing: Routine testing of unvaccinated adults reduces risk of infection from the group most likely to transmit COVID at school. All staff members, regardless of vaccination status, will continue to have access to CIAN Diagnostics weekly testing.

Required masking in all schools and facilities: Masking significantly reduces the risk of COVID transmission from asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people by reducing the number of viral particles released into the air by contagious people.

Temporarily pausing all extracurricular and athletic activities: This will help limit any potential transmission among students engaged in sports or other activities outside of school hours.

We understand this is a tremendously uncertain and difficult time for members of Team BCPS. We want to assure you that we are all in agreement that closing school buildings is our absolute last resort. Decisions to move an individual school or groups of schools to virtual learning are made after careful consideration and close collaboration with the BCPS Office of Health Services. A decision to pause in-person learning and activate remote learning is made only after a group of school and central office leaders meet to discuss critical factors including:

The number of staff and students who have tested positive for COVID-19 in a 14-day period.

The number of staff and students currently in quarantine.

The number of staffing vacancies at the school.

Special program considerations and overall impact on a school’s ability to maintain its normal, daily operations.

The availability of substitute teachers.

Whether the school can provide in-person instruction in a safe and supportive environment.

This work of maintaining in-person teaching and learning is a system and community effort. This week, more than 100 central office staff members—from across the organization—were deployed to assist in covering schools this week. Their efforts helped to preserve more than 2,100 hours of in-person instruction over a three-day period.

BCPS continues to meet with health officials and experts from the Baltimore County Health Department, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland to review and, as needed, refine current practices. We rely on the advice and strategies from these experts who share our commitment to keeping school buildings open and protecting the health and safety of members of the BCPS community.

As our community, state and nation continues to persevere through these challenges, please know that BCPS, TABCO, ESPBC, CASE, OPE, and AFSCME are committed to providing students with the high-quality education, support and access they need to thrive.

Baltimore County Schools to Close Again

Baltimore County Public Schools announced that it is closing schools today. This is a change after BCPS originally announced a two hour delay last night.

This is the second day that BCPS has closed schools this week.

The full statement about the closure is below:

Baltimore County Public Schools , including the Virtual Learning Program, will be closed on Tuesday, January 4, 2022, due to adverse road conditions.

All central offices will open on a two-hour delay. Central office employees have the option to telework. “Essential” employees will report on time for their assigned shift or may request to use leave time from the appropriate supervisor.

“Essential as Needed” employees will report to work as directed or may request to use leave time from the appropriate supervisor. All school and community activities in school buildings are canceled. All childcare programs are canceled.

BCPS Schools to Close Monday for Weather

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) announced that all schools will close on Monday, Jan. 3 for expected inclement weather.

BCPS announced late last week that it was going to remain with in-person school despite an increase in COVID-19 cases.

In-person school, the Virtual Learning Program, and offices will be closed on Monday.

“Essential” employees report on time for their assigned shift or may request from the appropriate supervisor to use leave time.

“Essential as Needed” employees will report to work as directed or may request to use leave time from the appropriate supervisor.

All school and community activities in school buildings are canceled. All childcare programs are also canceled.

BCPS Schools to Remain In-Person Next Week

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) announced that schools will reopen on Monday, Jan. 3 in-person at all BCPS Schools throughout Baltimore County.

With the increase in COVID cases, there was speculation that BCPS could go to an all virtual setting, but BCPS Superintendent Darryl L. Williams released an email on Thursday stating that schools will start Jan. 3 in-person. Williams also added that could change with COVID.

“With guidance from health experts and additional support from the county government, BCPS is moving forward with its plans to have students and staff return to schools and offices in-person on January 3, 2022. It is important to note that the Maryland State Department of Education also issued a statement clarifying that the expectation is that all school districts remain open for in-person learning and support for temporary transitions to virtual learning would be on a case-by-case basis.

“We know that for most students in-person learning is the best option to meet their academic and social-emotional needs. We also understand the pandemic is not over and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to keep our communities safe. In addition to the safety measures shared in the December 20, 2021, message, we are also taking the following steps effective January 3, 2022:

“Providing COVID-19 resources to students, staff and families to ensure shared understanding and promote safe learning environments. (See When to Stay Home and Recommended Isolation Calendar)

* Postponing all athletic contests and extracurricular activities until Jan. 10 to expand weekly screening testing access to all middle and high school unvaccinated students who choose to participate in after school activities.
* Obtaining KN95 masks to provide as an additional option for students and staff.
* Providing onsite PCR testing for schools experiencing persistent or school-wide COVID-19 outbreak.
* Obtaining Rapid Home Testing kits for students and staff for distribution in schools with persistent or school-wide outbreaks.
* Collaborating with the Baltimore County Department of Health to offer school-based COVID vaccine clinics.

” School nurses will also continue to conduct testing for students and staff who develop symptoms at school. We have worked with Baltimore County government to supplement our current PPE supply and procured an additional 126,000 KN95 masks and 126,000 Rapid Home Testing kits for BCPS students and staff.

Other Important Things to Note

* BCPS may move individual schools or groups of schools to virtual learning after reviewing a number of factors (e.g., percent of positive student and staff cases, number of staff and students in quarantine, and special program considerations) in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Health, Maryland State Department of Education, and/or the Baltimore County Health Department. These closures will be tracked on the BCPS Web site.

* Maryland’s guidelines for quarantine and isolation have not changed. Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for a minimum of ten days. Should Maryland adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s shortened isolation and quarantine guidelines, BCPS will update its practices accordingly.

Here is What You Can Do to Help

* Please stay home if you are sick. This is critically important as many individuals with even the mildest of symptoms are testing positive for COVID-19.
* If your child tested positive for COVID-19 over the winter break and will be absent on January 3, 2022, please alert your child’s school homeroom teacher, nurse, or administrator as soon as possible.
* Get the COVID-19 vaccine. It is safe and available to everyone ages 5 and older.
* Get the booster shot. This additional shot provides an added level of protection and is available for everyone 16 and above.
* Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth whenever you are in a BCPS building or in public buildings in Baltimore County.

“The BCPS community is stronger when we work together. Your continued partnership and cooperation are critically important to keep our school communities healthy, safe and open for in-person learning. I want to wish all of Team BCPS a very happy and healthy new year in advance,” Williams said.

BCPS Releases Statement on TikTok Threat

Baltimore County Public School released a statement about a TikTok threat against schools across the nation on Thursday, Dec. 16.

“The safety of all students, staff, and visitors at Baltimore County Public Schools remains a top priority. Since the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, members of the Baltimore County Police Department, including school resource officers (SROs), have investigated more than 75 threats made both in person or on social media.”

“Baltimore County Public Schools and the Baltimore County Police Department remain committed to investigating each threat to ensure our youth are provided a safe learning environment in which they can receive a quality education. Both agencies will work in collaboration with the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office to prosecute these cases when warranted.

“Parents and guardians are urged to be vigilant. It is critical that social media accounts are checked regularly, and that the importance of acting responsibly is stressed. Please remind your children that if they see something, say something. Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity is urged to call 911 as well as notify their school resource officer and administrator. Social media threats should not be forwarded unless instructed to do so by a police officer or school official/administrator.”

Eastern Tech Senior Named a Semi-Finalist by Coca-Cola

Faith LeBrun, a senior at Eastern Technical High School, has been named one of 1,617 Coca-Cola Scholar semifinalists for 2022.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation program honors students for their academic excellence, leadership, and service in their schools and communities. The semifinalists were selected from among more than 68,000 applicants from across the nation. Next, 250 semifinalists will advance to become regional finalists, and then 150 of the regional finalists will become Coca-Cola Scholars, receiving $20,000 college scholarships.

LeBrun is president of Eastern Tech’s Class of 2022; president of her school’s National English Honor Society chapter; co-founder and editor-in-chief of EDEN, the school’s first-ever literary magazine; and a leader of the school’s Red Cross Society.

Enrolled in the Teacher Academy of Maryland program at Eastern Tech, LeBrun launched a Better Minds Tutoring business during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a project for her community leadership class at Eastern Tech, LeBrun’s latest initiative is Women Who Lead, a blog and podcast about the experiences, struggles, and achievements of female leaders.

In addition. LeBrun serves as a marketing advisor with the organization Alumni Answers, through which students at prestigious universities share their strategies for academic success. LeBrun plans to attend a four-year college and pursue a career in business, perhaps as a business consultant or entrepreneur, with some involvement in real estate.

“Faith is an intellectually curious young lady who is mature beyond her years,” said Stacey Kalwa, Eastern Tech’s English department chair. “She views things from multiple perspectives and approaches problems without preconceived notions.”

“I work with Faith daily in several capacities, and this girl is unstoppable,” said Erin Annis, Eastern Tech’s library media specialist (who serves as staff advisor to EDEN and the National English Honor Society and teaches LeBrun in an AP Research course). “She is a natural leader — she is perceptive, forward-thinking, and the true definition of ‘girl-boss.’ She doesn’t just come up with great ideas or acknowledge what needs to be done; she executes. She is one of a kind.”

A joint effort of Coca-Cola bottlers across the country and The Coca-Cola Company, the Coca-Cola Scholars Program is the largest corporate-sponsored, achievement-based scholarship program in the United States. With the addition of the 2022 class, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation will have provided more than 6,600 Coca-Cola Scholars nationwide with more than $78 million in scholarships over the course of 34 years.

Julie Henn Selected as Chair of Board of Education

Julie Henn was selected Tuesday to serve as chair of the Board of Education of Baltimore County, while Cheryl Pasteur was selected as vice president. Both officers will serve a one-year term.

A resident of Perry Hall, Henn was first appointed to the Board of Education as a member-at-large in 2016. She was elected in 2018 to serve a four-year term representing District 5.

Henn currently works for the Community College of Baltimore County and is an information technology professional. Prior to joining the Board, she served on the Northeast Area Education Advisory Council, the Superintendent’s Parents’ Advisory Council, and the Transportation Advisory Committee.

She has been an active parent volunteer for Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS), a leader for Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, a catechist for St. Stephen Church, and has served on the Glenside Farms Homeowners Association Board. Henn holds a master’s degree in business administration from Loyola University Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations from Marquette University.

Pasteur, a resident of Pikesville, was elected to her first four-year term in 2018. She worked as an educator in Baltimore City and County for more than 36 years. She served as the principal of both Old Court Middle School and Randallstown High School, from where she retired in 2012.

Pasteur is a graduate of both the University of Maryland College Park and Morgan State University, earning Administration and Supervision certification from Loyola University Maryland.