April 9, 2021
Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Brian Bassett, HCPSS Communications, 410-313-1505.
The following press release is being distributed jointly by the Howard County Government and Howard County Public School System
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Working quickly to prevent network performance issues potentially triggered by the return to in-person instruction, Howard County Government and the Public School System (HCPSS) have collaborated to make a series of infrastructure enhancements needed to sustain the hybrid learning model. These enhancements significantly increase the bandwidth available in schools, allowing for the continued use of Google Meet video tools to provide instruction to students who participate virtually in instruction simultaneously with students in the classroom.
Ensuring our students and educators have reliable and accessible broadband is of the utmost importance, and our Department of Technology and Communication Services swiftly stepped in and supported our school system. Throughout this pandemic we've quickly adapted and responded to the ever-evolving challenges thrown our way. Despite the obstacles we've faced, we will emerge from this stronger, more resilient, and with better technology infrastructure in place for learning.
Howard County Government and HCPSS implemented several strategies to increase internet bandwidth and mitigate potential problems. The measures taken include:
- Doubling the bandwidth available to HCPSS by splitting network traffic into two additional internet pipelines;
- Partnering with Network Maryland to increase the amount of internet access available to HCPSS;
- Transitioning most elementary schools to Howard County Government’s network for Google Meet sessions, reducing the impact on the HCPSS network;
- Establishing a new fiber internet connection prior to the return of the final cohort to in-person instruction;
- Adjusting Howard County Government processes to make additional bandwidth available for HCPSS.
"I am grateful for the collaboration with our county partners to help implement network solutions that allow students and educators to continue to deliver uninterrupted hybrid instruction," said HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano. "The COVID-19 pandemic has increased our reliance on technology infrastructure like never before. Yet, implementing and ensuring a reliable infrastructure is still dependent on people working together to achieve innovative results and implement innovative solutions."
Additionally, HCPSS has blocked access to non-instructional video streaming sites, reduced Google Meet video quality while still meeting acceptable standards and collaborated with the County to optimize the Google Meet video configuration.
"This pandemic has required great flexibility to mitigate and respond promptly to issues that arise along the year," said HCPSS Board Chair, Dr. Chao Wu. "As challenges arise, we continue to adapt, and improve. We appreciate the collaboration between the county government and the school system. These collaborative efforts are maximizing our network capabilities by implementing short- and long-term solutions that benefit not only our school community, but our entire county"
HCPSS has not experienced problems related to inadequate bandwidth availability since the return of students to in-person hybrid instruction.