Superintendent’s Update on Reopening the Bedford Schools ~ August 28, 2020 ~ With the Superintendent’s 8/30 Clarification

Print More

Editor’s Note: Superintendent Conrad sent this clarification on Sunday morning, August 30:

I wanted to clarify my statement about the learning pods that I discussed in my Friday letter. We had been told that some home learning pods were soliciting Bedford Public School teachers to teach in their pods rather than the children enrolled in our schools.

Being upset about that, it may have seemed that I was generalizing about parents whose honest efforts to meet the needs of their own children were inappropriate. I apologize for using the term, “privilege pod,” which, while that term is being used in public conversations about this phenomenon it clearly conveys a judgmentalness that is divisive and was not my intention.

As the superintendent, I care about the education of all of our children, including those whose parents find alternative means of supplementing their education and those who do not have the means to do so. But our purview is what we can provide in the district, not what some parents choose to do at home. We will strive to do our best to provide the most robust and effective hybrid and remote education possible.

Regretfully,

Philip Conrad

Thank you for your continued patience as we work to reopen school.

I wanted to let you know that our Cooperative Teams have completed their work on our reopening plan and that plan will be made public today. The Cooperative Teams did an incredible job working out the myriad of interconnected details with the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff always front and center in their minds.

We believe that the plans provide for the academic engagement of students while supporting students’ social and emotional well- being, maintaining equity as a core belief, creating welcoming learning environments, and enabling students and teachers to build strong relationships.

The plan which is linked on the Bedford Public Schools School Reopening web page at Reopening Plans Information will be presented to the school committee at their next meeting on Monday, August 31, 2020.

Hybrid/Remote Final Decision

In order to finalize our student and teacher schedules, we are asking that any parent who wants to change their child’s current model to please contact your school’s registrar by the end of the day on Monday, August 31, 2020. If your child will remain in their current model, there is no action required of you at this time.

DESE Guidance

There was no new guidance from DESE this week, but they did add an FAQ document to their website http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/ On this page you will find all of the guidance documents that have come out from DESE.

Massachusetts and Bedford COVID-19 Information

We continue to use Governor Baker’s enhanced community data map which tracks COVID-19 cases and gives a colored rating from clear through red. This information is also being utilized by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to alert school communities about the risk in their particular city or town. That information can be found at MA.GOV Covid Dashboard as part of the COVID Dashboard information. Here in Bedford, we are fortunate to receive weekly updates from Town Manager Sarah Stanton. This week’s update can be found at Bedford August 27, 2020, COVID Information

“Privilege Pods”

As a district we want to make it clear that we are concerned about the establishment of private “privilege pods” or educational groups that create inequalities among our students. These pods are a symptom of the structural differences that exist in our educational system and structural issues within our society including the lack of affordable child care. The current pandemic has exacerbated these issues and has in many cases increased the financial burden on families. As a school district, we are committed to closing the opportunity gap for all of our students and hope that our families understand that creating and participating in these pods may have a detrimental effect on our students.

Start of the School Year

Just a reminder that the school year will begin for educators on August 31, 2020, and that students will begin the year with a remote learning day on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, Cohort A will have their first day of in-person instruction on Thursday, September 17, 2020, and Cohort B will have their first day of in-person instruction on Friday, September 18, 2020

Next Steps

As the Cooperative Teams finalized their work to detail the plans of each school we have been reconciling any changes that may impact the contract between the BEA and BPS. This important step is continuing and I am excited to report that our cooperative efforts to reopen schools are continuing.

Finally, I hope that everyone enjoys these last few days of summer. I am looking forward to seeing the teachers next week and the students in mid-September.

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


Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today.

Don't risk missing important news: sign up for our daily email feed and weekend summary.

Go to our home page for more stories.