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County Education Task Force Pitching Plan for Remote Learning Platform
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:15AM / Monday, April 27, 2020
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire County Education Task Force unanimously decided Saturday to move forward with a plan members hope will address a short-term need and bolster its argument for a long-term solution to problems confronting the county's school districts.   The task force endorsed a framework for a countywide online learning management system for remote learning that it hopes to present to school superintendents and school committees in the next couple of weeks.   The ambitious plan would have an online platform for course delivery, teacher collaboration and training in place this summer, in time for the 2020-21 academic year.   The immediate

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County's Colleges Allotted Funds From Federal Stimulus
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:29AM / Thursday, April 23, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The county's four colleges are in line to receive a combined $4.2 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, with at least half that money going directly to aid students financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.   One provision of the $2 trillion CARES Act signed into law late last month is $12.6 billion set aside for institutions of higher learning, to be distributed based on a formula that factors in each school's Pell Grant recipients.   The grants to colleges and universities, which are administered by the Department of Education, made headlines this week when President Trump objected to the idea that Harvard

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Federal Waiver Allows for Expansion of Family Food Benefits
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
07:08PM / Wednesday, April 22, 2020
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BOSTON — Families struggling during the novel coronavirus lockdown may now be eligible for a state food program beginning in May.   Massachusetts was among the first states to take advantage of waivers to establish a "pandemic electronic benefit transfer program" under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act.    "It's an important opportunity to provide nutritional resources to families who have lost access to free or reduced price meals at schools across the country that closed in response to COVID-19," said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, who added that food security is an important factor in the determinants of

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Massachusetts Schools Will Not Reopen This School Year
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
12:47PM / Tuesday, April 21, 2020
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BOSTON — Schools won't be reopening this school year.    Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced the decision to continue remote learning through the end of the year and to extend the closure of non-essential child care centers through June.   "It's the right thing to do, considering the facts on the ground associated with the COVID-19 pandemic," he said at the daily update on the state's pandemic response. "At this point in time, there is no authoritative guidance, or advisories with respect to how to operate schools safely and how to get kids to and from schools safely. We believe students, therefore, cannot safely return to schools and

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MCLA Professor Named Outstanding Educator of the Year by Massachusetts Society of CPAs
11:43AM / Tuesday, April 21, 2020
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — North Adams resident and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts assistant professor Tara Barboza has been selected as the 2020 Outstanding Educator of the Year by the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants, the professional association of certified public accountants, representing over 11,000 members. 

Each year, the MSCPA recognizes a full-time accounting educator at a college or university who has demonstrated excellence in a classroom teaching, motivating students and inspiring educational innovation.

Barboza was selected for her excellence in teaching and motivating students, as well as her contribution to the accounting profession, active

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MCLA Professors, Accounting Students to Prepare Virtual Tax Returns Through VITA Program
10:12AM / Thursday, April 16, 2020
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Two MCLA accounting professors and their students will again be preparing tax returns for local low-income residents — this time, virtually — through Habitat for Humanity's VITA program.

MCLA's new virtual VITA location, approved by the IRS, will be working through the end of April 2020 preparing eligible taxpayers' returns and helping ensure Berkshire County residents receive their coronavirus stimulus payment from the federal government. 

Individual taxpayers may be eligible for a $1,200 stimulus payment; married taxpayers filing jointly may be eligible for a 2,400 stimulus. In addition, taxpayers are eligible for an additional $500

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Williams College Junior Awarded Harry S. Truman Scholarship
10:02AM / Thursday, April 16, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College junior Jose Christopher Avila has been awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a highly competitive award given to college juniors demonstrating exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in public service.

Avila grew up in Wilmington, Del., where he developed an interest in leadership and public service, which included raising money for the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation for pediatric cancer research and Norman Oliver's annual holiday turkey drive to assist families and seniors. With support from the Truman Scholarship, he plans to pursue a dual J.D. and M.S. in forestry and environmental science at the University of

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Hoosac Valley Girls Promote Social Distancing, Support for Frontline Workers in Video
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
06:05PM / Wednesday, April 15, 2020
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The two-time state champion Hoosac Valley girls basketball team is sending a dual message with the video it created for social media this month.   Like a lot of basketball teams, the Hurricanes have caught the craze of posting a video montage of players who cannot gather in one place but can virtually unite as a ball is passed from outside the frame to each team member and then relayed to the next, who catches and passes in their own backyard or driveway.   The videos are a fun take on the concepts of social distancing and staying connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.   Hoosac Valley coach Ron Wojcik decided to put a different spin on

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Mount Greylock Subcommittee Discusses Bus Contract Adjustment During Prolonged Closure
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:37AM / Wednesday, April 15, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Finance Subcommittee of the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee asked the district's superintendent Tuesday to negotiate an amended bus contract for the remainder of the COVID-19 closure.   The issue is that the buses are not running while school is not in session by order of Gov. Charlie Baker, but school officials are concerned that if the bus drivers, who currently are laid off, find other jobs, contractor Dufour Tours could have trouble filling those positions when schools reopen, whether that is next month or in September.   The district's assistant superintendent and business manager advised the subcommittee that it is a

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NSF Awards Four Graduate Fellowships to Williams Student, Alumni
11:37AM / Tuesday, April 14, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The National Science Foundation has awarded research fellowships to four Williams College students and alumni. In addition, the NSF has awarded honorable mentions to eight other Williams students and alumni. The NSF fellowships support graduate study in the natural and social sciences.

The four Williams fellowship recipients are Teresa Yu '20, a mathematics student from Chandler, Ariz.; Gabriela Suarez '17, who studies psychology at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Katherine Newcomer '14, a biological science technician at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; and Daniel Maes '18, who studies mathematics at the University of

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