Superintendent Conrad’s Friday Update – February 12, 2021

Editor’s Note: In his February 12 update, Supt. Conrad touches on holidays (Lunar New Year and Washington’s Birthday, the start of the schools’ winter break); celebrates this week’s National Honor Society induction at Bedford High School; the town-wide Covid-19 forum held on Wednesday; ‘pool’ testing; DESE updates; and several ongoing messages.

Welcome to the Year of the Ox
Today is the celebration of the Lunar New Year! Lunar New Year is a festival that celebrates the beginning of the new year according to the traditional Chinese calendar. The celebration marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. For more information please visit https://chinesenewyear.net/

Monday, February 15, 2021
A reminder that Monday, February 15, 2021, is Washington’s Birthday.  A Federal and state holiday. The holiday began in 1796 to celebrate the last full year of President George Washington’s presidency. His actual birthday is February 11th. In 1885 President Chester A. Arthur designated President Washington’s actual birthday as a national holiday. In 1968, the observation date was changed to the third Monday in February which traditionally, as it does this year, falls as the first Monday of our school vacation.

As a result of the holiday all of our school offices will be closed on Monday, February 15, 2021, and school will not be in session next week as we observe the February school vacation. For more information about Washington’s Birthday please visit https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/presidents-day

National Honor Society at Bedford High School
Congratulations to all of our newly inducted BHS NHS members! The group of new inductees was inducted virtually last evening in a virtual ceremony hosted by Ms. Heather Galante, Ms. Amanda Faulkner, and seniors Mina Bostwick, Caitlin Connors, Cameron Horne, and Maya Driscoll.

Community Forum, Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Thank you to everyone who participated in The Town of Bedford Virtual Community Forum on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. The forum was an opportunity for the Select Board, the Board of Health, and the School Committee to provide information on the Town’s response to Covid-19 and answer questions from residents. The forum took place over Zoom.

Pool Testing
Our Nurse Leader Ms. Tracy Fernald and our nursing staff are working with DESE, CIC Health of Cambridge, Abbott BinaxNOW, our medical advisor, and the Bedford Department of Health and Human Services to finalize the Pool Testing Protocols. We were encouraged to learn from Commissioner Riley yesterday that each district would receive six weeks of testing at no cost regardless of when the testing begins. We are excited to add this seventh safety protocol to our health and safety protocols within our schools.

DESE Updates 
Transportation
At the end of the week we received updates from Commissioner Riley. Among the guidance was an update to the Transportation guidance which increases the number of students that can ride each bus in all communities except those who are at increased risk or in red on the statewide metric.

Emergency Licensure
DESE also extended the Emergency Licensure program through the end of the 2021-2022 school year.  This extends emergency licenses for an additional year and will apply to new applicants as well.  DESE will also count the time towards professional teacher status.

Educators who are Military Veterans Accepted to VA Vaccination Program
The Commissioner also announced that the Veterans Administration will make an exception and will welcome educators into their federal vaccination programs. More information will be given directly to educators who are veterans and are therefore eligible for the program.

Vaccinations for all Educators
There is no update for us at this time but the Commissioner assured everyone that he is working to keep educators at the forefront of the Phase II priority list.

Guidance on Singing
The Commissioner let everyone know that guidance on singing indoors is being reworked after being rejected by the DESE Medical Advisory Board.

Community COVID-19 Dashboard
The Bedford Board of Health Bedford COVID-19 Dashboard contains data related to case counts, active/recovered cases, case demographics and school case data. The majority of the data on the Dashboard will be updated Monday through Friday, with some data tables and charts updated on a weekly basis. We invite you to view the new dashboard at www.bedfordma.gov/covid-stats

Teaching Assistants, Educational Assistants and Building Substitutes Needed
If you would be interested in joining the Bedford Public Schools as a teaching assistant, an educational assistant, or a building based substitute please check out our openings on our website at BPS HR Website and thank you!

Technology
If you have questions about this or any other technology issue or concerns please contact tech_support@bedfordps.org
As always, thank you for your patience, your participation, and your continued commitment to our schools.
Wishing you a wonderful vacation and a healthy week,