Germ-Conscious in the Classroom
Flu Vaccine Shortage Prompts Precautions
This fall's shortage of flu vaccine came as a jolt to teachers, whose close daily contact with dozens of children puts them on the front lines of any public health crisis. And school administrators across the Washington region are bracing for flu season, wondering whether they will have enough substitute teachers if it is a bad year for influenza. School maintenance crews are making extra efforts to keep bathrooms and water fountains clean, and signs tell children about the importance of hand washing.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Sues EPA
Agency Accused of Stalling on Cleanup
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, signaling a more aggressive strategy to speed up progress in cleaning up the bay. The lawsuit accuses the federal agency of dragging its feet as sewage plants across the region pollute the bay's waters. The key issue in the legal action is nitrogen, which along with phosphorus serves as food for huge algae blooms in the bay. Scientists blame these algae for creating "bad water" in which fish and crabs cannot breathe. The more than 350 sewage plants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed account for about 21 percent of its nitrogen, according to the EPA.
Limits Sought on Politicians in Ads
Democrats Say Tourism Spots Touted Ehrlich
Leading Democratic state legislators will attempt to restrict appearances by Maryland politicians in taxpayer-financed television commercials, a response to a recent series of tourism ads featuring Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. The Democrats contend that the ads were more effective in promoting Ehrlich than Maryland tourist destinations. But the state secretary of business and economic development said they have been a cost-effective tool for promoting tourism.
Wife Freed in Slaying of Husband
Woman, Her Daughter Had Been Abused
An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge freed a woman who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting death of her husband. The judge said that Laura Rogers suffered from battered spouse syndrome and that her husband also had abused and raped her daughter by a previous marriage. Judge Paul A. Hackner sentenced Rogers to 10 years in prison, then suspended all but the 198 days she had spent in jail since her arrest.
Sex Ed to Discuss Homosexuality
Montgomery Also to Include Condom Video
Montgomery County public schools will expand sex education to include a pilot program that discusses homosexuality and a video that shows 10th-graders how to put on a condom. The curriculum will be implemented at all county high schools in 2005. Parents will continue to be able to decline permission for their children to take the sex education component of their health classes. About 1 percent of students opt out, choosing instead from three alternatives: independent study, a unit on stress management or a unit that covers only abstinence as a method of birth control.
Across the Region
A Loss for Big-Box Retailers; New Schools
* Montgomery County Council members voted 7 to 0 to adopt tougher zoning restrictions on big-box retail stores, a move generally seen as aimed at preventing Wal-Mart from opening a Supercenter store in the county.
* Prince George's County officials announced plans to build two high schools by 2010 and expand three existing schools in response to a projected surge in enrollment.
* The Salvation Army is rallying after someone broke into its Wisconsin Avenue storefront in Northwest Washington last weekend and stole $2,500 in toys. Since the theft, the organization has fielded a steady stream of calls from people offering to donate toys or help out in other ways. One large financial donation was a $5,000 check from SunTrust Bank of Greater Washington.