Claret Hall Reopens by Appointment September 1

It is hard to believe that it has been almost 6 months since Claret Hall closed and the River Hill Community Association’s staff began working remotely. COVID-19 has impacted the association’s operations, just like those of businesses and organizations around the world. Although we had hoped life would have returned to something more closely resembling normal by now, we are not where we would like our community and country to be. Throughout this period, the association has managed to keep basic functions going, though at a reduced pace. Meanwhile, the Board of Directors and staff have been busily working on plans to re-open safely. After months of teleworking, we are pleased to announce that effective September 1, staff will be available at Claret Hall Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. to answer phone calls and to meet by appointment with residents. The current schedule is: Facility Coordinator (Monday and Wednesday) and Covenant Advisor (Tuesday and Thursday).

The association’s goal is to provide a safe environment for visitors and staff and to advance the safety of our local community. We have taken a variety of mitigative measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Air purifying systems have been installed at Claret Hall and the River Hill Meeting Room, cleaning and disinfecting protocols have been enhanced, and new procedures and requirements for staff and guests have been instituted. We are starting to rent space at Claret Hall and the Meeting Room with lower room capacities, social distancing, and other COVID-19 precautions in place. Many association- sponsored events have transitioned to virtual formats and we have instituted other options to boost morale and create community connections. As conditions and the association’s budget permit, our plan is to gradually return to a pre-COVID-19 operational level by April 2021.

We ask that residents continue to be patient. To limit interpersonal contact, we encourage you to reach association staff by email or phone. Staff emails are provided on page 3. Residents seeking to make changes to the exterior of their home or property or who are putting their house up for sale, should continue to download the Exterior Alteration Application, worksheets, and Letter of Compliance Request forms from our website at and to submit them electronically to Residents interested in renting space at the facilities the association manages can view the interiors at and can schedule a time with the Facility Coordinator to visit in person. For now, all Board of Directors and Resident Architectural Committee meetings will continue to be held virtually. Meeting agendas are posted on the front door at Claret Hall and on our website, distributed via our electronic communication tools, and included in the newsletter when the schedule permits.

The association’s staff is glad to be back and though we will all be wearing face coverings and asking you to do so too, we look forward to seeing you!

There’s Still Time to Complete the Census

Every Maryland household was sent by mail an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census in March. Using that information, Marylanders can fill out the Census questionnaire online. If you did not receive an invitation in the mail, you can still complete the questionnaire online at or by phone at 844-330-2020.

The Census can be completed online or by phone in 13 different languages. The deadline to complete the Census
is September 30.

Coronavirus Testing Offered in Neighborhoods Across HoCo

Howard County General Hospital is taking testing for the coronavirus to neighborhoods across the county. Advanced registration is strongly encouraged at
• Wednesday, Sept. 2; 5-7:30 p.m. at Calvary Lutheran Church, 6151 Old Frederick Road, Mt. Airy
• Wednesday, Sept. 9; 5-7:30 p.m. at Kittamaqundi Community Church, 5410 Leaf Treader Way, Columbia
• Sunday, Sept. 13; 8-11 a.m. at St. John Baptist Church, 9055 Tamar Drive, Columbia
• Saturday, Sept. 19; 8 a.m.-12 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 6800 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia
• Saturday, Sept. 26; 8-11 a.m. at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, 5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia
• Saturday, Oct. 3; 8-11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Guilford, 7504 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia
• Saturday, Oct. 10; 8-11 a.m. at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4100 St. John’s Lane, Ellicott City
• Sunday, Oct. 25; 8-11 a.m. at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4100 St. John’s Lane, Ellicott City
• Saturday, Oct. 31; 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Celebration Church, 7101 Riverwood Drive, Columbia

10 Tips to Prepare Your Kids and Your Home for Distance Learning

Like many school districts across the country, Howard County Public Schools will be starting the school year
with distance learning. With some previous experience and with some time to prepare, here are 10 tips and ideas to help your family not only survive, but thrive, with distance learning.
• Communicate with your child’s teacher. Open communication will help both of you come up with ideas, options,
and alternatives to help your child succeed.
• Create a designated learning space. This can be tricky depending on your family’s living situation. Whether it’s
at a desk in your child’s bedroom or at the kitchen table, make sure it’s a quiet space and in a spot where school supplies are easily accessible.
• Stock up now on school supplies. Plenty of lined paper, printer paper and printer ink are key as well as noise-canceling headphones — they are very helpful for Zoom meetings, especially if you have multiple children.
• Use a wall calendar. While it may seem old-fashioned, a wall calendar can be helpful with keeping Zoom times and appointment times straight. If you have a lot of meetings and appointments to track, consider getting a wall calendar for each child. If you use only one calendar, assign each child a pen of a different color so it’s easy to track everyone’s schedule at a glance.
• Follow a schedule. Just like a typical in-class school week, kids do better with a routine and schedule. Get up, have breakfast, get dressed, and be ready to start the school day. This means having them go to bed on time each evening to make the mornings easier. Have lunch at about the same time each day and plan times for “recess” and P.E.
• Use a timer. Use timers for required reading time, or to track break times or lunch. You can also use the timer on those days when it’s hard to stay focused and on task.
• Create a weekly assignment sheet. Each week take the kids’ week of assignments and add them to a simple spreadsheet along with assignment details and the due date as well as a space to check off once it has been completed. Print it out and give each child his/her own copy. Having it in writing makes it easy for them to see what has been done already and how much more they need to complete.
• Write down all passwords and website URLs in one place. So. Many. Passwords! Print them, along with the many websites each child needs to use and put them in your child’s binder for easy access.
• Plan ahead for snacks and lunch. Working from home might sometimes mean having to be on a call which prevents the ability to confirm what someone can eat as a snack or lunch that day. If your children are not able to handle preparing snacks and lunch on their own, try putting acceptable snacks into a small bin so they can choose on their own. Also, think about foods that might be okay to eat while working on their computer. As for lunches, plan ahead by having sandwich fixings, easy to prepare foods, or even leftovers available. You could even pack them in advance as if they were headed to school each day.
• Set rules and expectations. Kids have rules and expectations in the classroom, so why not at home for school? For some children, you might need to put them in writing. For others, you can discuss and move on. These might include the times you expect them to be working, the need to clean up their workspace after “school,” and other expectations you have. Many are facing an unknown future in terms of this school year, but with greater preparedness comes a feeling of greater control. Hopefully that will be helpful to all.

Excerpts from Jennifer Hill of “Macaroni Kids” Columbia.