State Board of Education Approves Off Ramps for Masking in Schools

The State Board of Education voted to approve emergency regulations to allow for off-ramps for masking in school facilities. This morning, the State Board met virtually to consider a number of topics, with updates to the State's COVID-19 mitigation policies front-and-center. With only one member voting in opposition, the Board recommended a new set of emergency regulations that keep masks in schools, but provides several pathways for local education agencies (LEAs) to reverse the mandate.…

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Howard Co. Votes to Raise Minimum Wage to Highest in State

The Howard County Council voted yesterday to raise the County's minimum wage by more than $4 per hour by 2025, to the highest level in Maryland. At its December 6 meeting, the Howard County Council approved CB82-2021 to raise the minimum hourly wage from $11.75 per hour to $16 by Jan.1, 2025. The move is expected to affect about 40,000 workers in the county, according to the council. The bill was introduced in early November, to robust debate in…

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School Construction Work Group Makes Major Decisions on Funding and Assessments, but Work Remains

The Workgroup on the Assessment and Funding of School Facilities made major decisions on school construction and funding at its December 1 meeting, but work remains. Among the decisions made were those involving the Revolving Loan Fund, cost share formulas, and school facilities assessments. These decisions come after months of meeting and deliberation. The work group was created via legislation in 2021. It was tasked with evaluating multiple components of school construction projects and facilities conditions by the…

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State Board of Education Asks MSDE to Create Emergency Regs with Off Ramps for Masking in Schools

The State School Board of Education voted to have the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) develop a new set of emergency regulations that would establish localized off ramps for masking in public school facilities. After a robust discussion, the State Board voted 12-2 today on a process to establish off ramps for its current masking mandate in school facilities. MSDE will now draft a new set of emergency regulations (with a 180 day cap) that includes considerations…

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Anne Arundel Gives $460K+ in Grants to Small Businesses to Increase Online Presence

The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (AAEDC) announced that it has given $460,800 in Digital Services Grants to 144 local businesses. The Digital Services Grant program was launched in September as part of of the County's COVID-19 economic recovery strategy. The program uses $500,000 that the state has set aside in American Recovery Act (ARPA) funds. Brick and mortar small businesses and nonprofits could apply for up to $10,000 to be used toward a variety of digital services, i.e.…

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Frederick Students Must Present Vax or Testing Records to Participate in Extracurriculars

Starting today, December 1, Frederick County public school students wishing to participate in extracurricular activities must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test. Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) now requires students participating in an array of extracurricular activities to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test. The Frederick County School Board narrowly passed the mitigation policy back in October. The Return to Play Committee explained the new rules: Who: Students taking…

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Howard Community College and MD Dept. of Labor Partner on $250,000 Apprenticeship Program

Howard Community College (HCC) announced that it has partnered with the Maryland State Department  of Labor to expand apprenticeship programs via a $250,000 state grant. The expanded program will include two new career pathways for students and aspiring professionals: a new surgical technician apprenticeship program to support the increased demand for skilled workers in healthcare and a new CompTIA technology support apprenticeship program for information technology. According to a HCC press release: The expansion of HCC’s apprenticeship program will…

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Blueprint Accountability Board Holds Second Meeting

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) met for the second time on November 29. The second meeting comes after the AIB got a late start, only holding its first meeting on November 15, several months after the intended start. The November 29 meeting opened with a presentation from Kirwan Commission Chair Brit Kirwan on the background of the Blueprint and the subsequent reforms to Maryland's public education system. The AIB was then briefed…

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Montgomery Libraries to Hold Free Job Seeking and Entrepreneurship Couching and Workshops

Throughout the month of December, Montgomery County Public Libraries will host online workshops and one-on-one career coaching geared toward assisting job seekers and entrepreneurs. Every Monday in December from 9:30-11:30 a.m., the Montgomery County Public Library System will hold Helping Individuals Reach Employment (HIRE) for job seekers to meet virtually, one-on-one with career counselors. Register for a one-on-one career counseling session using the links below: Monday, Dec. 6 Monday, Dec. 13 Monday, Dec. 20 Monday, Dec. 27 Additionally, throughout the month…

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State to Consider Next Steps for Masks in Schools at Dec. 1 Meeting

On Wednesday, December 1, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and State Board of Education (SBOE) will meet to discuss public input and next steps on masking in schools. The virtual meeting, which was announced earlier this week, is a follow-up to a November 16 meeting that featured public input and testimony from local education leaders and national public health leaders. Maryland’s current mask mandate requires masks to be worn in all public school facilities, a measure…

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