Superintendent’s Update on Reopening the Bedford Schools ~ July 31, 2020

Hello Bedford Schools Community,

It has been another very busy week! The entire district leadership team, each building reopening task force, the district reopening task force, and town officials have all been working cooperatively to answer the Sixty Four Thousand Dollar Question (The $64,000 Question) how do we reopen [Bedford’s] schools in the fall in a way that accounts for the academic, social-emotional, health and safety needs of our students, parents, faculty, and staff and all of our families.

Our collaborative decision-making process has been guided by our core values and our commitment to the health and safety of our students, teachers, faculty, and staff [by]

  • Providing the best teaching and learning opportunities for all students within the current pandemic conditions
  • Creating and maintaining a warm and welcoming learning environment for all students
  • Enabling strong connections between our students and their teachers
  • Supporting the social and emotional well-being of our students, or faculty and staff, and ourselves
  • Ensuring that we stay true to Equity as a core value of our decision-making
  • Incorporating input from local, state, federal, and international sources as it is updated to increase our understanding of the health and safety risks associated with reopening school.

The good news is the commitment everyone has shown to this collaborative approach.  Everyone has the same goal of giving our students the best educational experience we can within the limitations of the current world crisis.

Today, we will be submitting our preliminary plans to DESE.  The plan includes an all remote learning model, a hybrid learning model, and an all in-person learning model.  The plans include information about our remote learning platforms including Zoom, Google Classroom, Google Meet, Google Chat, Seesaw, and Nearpod and our intention to make all of our system more robust through attendance, assessments, recorded grades, and new academic material within a learning environment with social-emotional support.  The plan also provides the department with our assessment of whether or not we could all return to school safely using their 3’ social distancing recommendation and a hybrid plan which would be a combination of remote learning and in-person learning.  Our preliminary plan is posted on our website – Click this link to read it here.

On Monday, we will make our more complete draft plan, which is due to DESE on August 10, 2020 available on our website.  This plan will review the three options in more detail. As soon as it is available I will email you so that you can review the plan.  The school committee has scheduled a meeting on Wednesday, August 5, 2020, to discuss and vote on a plan for the opening of the school for the 2020 – 2021 school year.

I also want to make it clear that if we decide on an all in-person or a hybrid model families will still have an all-remote option.  That option will be coming from DESE shortly and is described in the Learning Management System (LMS) section of our plan.

Once we have a direction forward we will be surveying parents again to ask very specific questions so that we can begin to plan for bus transportation, class sizes, and the like.  The survey will likely go out on Thursday morning with a quick turnaround time.

I wanted to share with you a new piece of information that I received this week from Ariadne Labs, The Learning Accelerator, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and The T. H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University.  Together these organizations have created the Parabola Project and their slide deck of about 20 slides is an excellent resource for all of us.  Please find the slide deck here Public Health Principles for School Reopening 072420, public version draft

We also received new guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on the number of school days in the upcoming school year.  The department will allow each district an additional ten (10) days at the start of the school year to prepare teachers for the beginning of the school year.  This will allow us time to prepare for remote, hybrid, and in-person teaching and learning, the new protocols and procedures of schooling during a pandemic, and

Please note that Bedford Town Manager Ms. Sarah Stanton updated the community on COVID-19 in the community.  Please see her report at Town of Bedford COVID-19 7 30 2020 Update

Earlier this week the Commissioner of Education stated that he was reducing the school year for students from 180 days to 170 days by allowing districts to begin the school year with ten professional days prior to bringing students back.  I will be proposing a new school year calendar that will take advantage of the Commissioner’s decision. These days will allow us time to enhance our abilities to provide enhanced remote, hybrid, and in-person teaching and learning opportunities for students as well as the new protocols and procedures of schooling during the pandemic. The proposed calendar would also mean that students would not return to school until Wednesday, September 16th at the earliest.  It also means that we will retain two additional professional days that we can use at a time later in the school year if we need to change our mode of delivery.

Thank you for your patience, your participation, and your continued commitment to our schools.

Wishing you continued health,


Philip Conrad, Superintendent

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