State Fights COVID Surge with $100 Million in Emergency Funding

Maryland will adopt several measures, including the release of $100 million in emergency funding, to combat a recent surge in COVID-19 infections. In addition to committing $100 million toward urgent staffing needs at Maryland hospitals and nursing homes, the days and hours of operations at community testing sites will be expanded and the National Guard will be providing staffing support. Another $30 million will be provided to schools to purchase testing resources. Governor Larry Hogan discussed steps…

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Howard Co. Commits $8M in ARPA Funds to Educator Bonuses

In an effort to address staffing challenges, Howard County is committing ARPA funds to bonuses for public educators. Yesterday, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced that the county would spend $8 million of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding on bonuses for county public school educators. The announcement comes as Howard County and others around the state continue to grapple with school staff shortages, low morale, and the general challenges of COVID learning. In a…

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MSDE Reiterates Support for In-Person Learning Amid COVID Closings

State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury said that as COVID cases surge, "schools must be the last places to close." As several schools across the state move to virtual learning, the Maryland State Board of Education (MSDE) reiterated its support for full-time, in-person learning. A press release from MSDE opened, "Understanding the concerns regarding rapidly changing conditions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the State Board and Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) continue to prioritize safe full-time, in-person…

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Prince George’s Schools Move to Virtual Learning Amid COVID Surge

Starting today, December 21, all Prince George's public schools will move to virtual learning in an effort to thwart COVID surge. On December 17, Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) announced that the entire school system would return to virtual learning as COVID-19 cases and student quarantines increased in the county. The PGCPS website's homepage currently states: In light of the stark rise in COVID-19 cases throughout our school system, all students will transition to…

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Baltimore City Works with Local Universities to Implement ARPA

Baltimore City's Office of Recovery Programs has partnered with the University of Baltimore (UB) and Morgan State University (MSU) to assist with initiatives funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  Baltimore City Mayor Brandon M. Scott discussed the initiative in a press release: “ARPA is a one-time investment. Support from these two world-class universities will position us to make evidence-based decisions and show our impact for the benefit of Baltimoreans,” said Mayor Scott. “In a city like Baltimore with deep systemic challenges even before the…

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Early Fall Assessment Data Confirm COVID Learning Loss for Maryland Students

Early fall assessment assessments detail the "COVID gap" many of Maryland's students are experiencing, especially in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics and Kindergarten Readiness. On December 8, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) published preliminary early fall assessment and kindergarten readiness assessment data for the 2021-22 school year. Preliminary takeaways from the assessments: 35% of students met or exceeded expectations in ELA, down from 43.7% in 2018-19; 15% of students met or exceeded expectations in…

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School Construction Work Group Ends, Recommends Changes to State Funding Calculations and Facilities Assessments

At its December 15 meeting, the Workgroup on the Assessment and Funding of School Facilities decided on a final set of recommendations for the General Assembly to consider. The Workgroup met for a final time today, during which it made major decisions about on calculations of the State share in school construction project funding and on school facilities assessments. Today's meeting was a follow-up to a December 1 meeting when the group started making recommendations  to present to…

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UM Upper Chesapeake Gifted $7.5M for Leadership Institute

University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UM UCF) and the Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation (UCHF) announced a $7.5 million endowment gift to establish The Anna and James Lambdin Leadership Institute. The endowment -- the largest independent gift ever donated to UCHF -- comes from the new institute's namesakes, Anna and James Lambdin to establish a medical professional leadership institute. The Anna and James Lambdin Leadership Institute will focus on building tomorrow’s leaders and will offer two…

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Policy Leaders Discuss Education Equity at #MACoCon

At the 2021 MACo Winter Conference, an expert panel discussed education equity and how COVID-19 exacerbated gaps in the experiences of Maryland's students.  At the 2021 MACo Winter Conference session, "Education Equity: Confronting the COVID Gap," leaders in education discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic revealed new inequities and exacerbated existing ones for Maryland's students. Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice, who also leads MACo's Education Subcommittee and serves on the National Association of Counties Board of Directors, and…

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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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