Superintendent Conrad’s Friday Update – March 12, 2021

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Editor’s Note: In his weekly summary for Friday, March 12, 2021, Superintendent Conrad marked the end of the year since the pandemic closed the schools; included the announcement and guidance about reopening schools; and shared multiple announcements.

The end of this week marks one year since the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools and disrupted life as we knew it.  A year later we are on the cusp of returning to five days a week in person learning, vaccinations for many adults, and a renewed emphasis on the academic, social, emotional and mental health of our students.

For many families the cost of this past year was very high.  During this past year we have lost over 500,000 of our fellow Americans to this deadly virus including 57 right here in Bedford. As a school system we are grateful to everyone who has assisted our students through this difficult time.  We will continue to work together for the benefit of all of our students.

DESE Commissioner’s announcement
On Friday the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave Commissioner Riley emergency authority to adjust our learning models.  Beginning soon we will be moving to an all in person learning model supported by a remote learning model for those students that need to remain all remote.  These models will continue to operate through the end of the school year.  All students in our hybrid model (and any family from our remote model who would like to change to all in person) will begin coming to school five days a week in person according to the timeline created by the Commissioner. He has set the following return dates:

  • Elementary Schools return to five day in person learning no later than April 5, 2021
  • Middle Schools return to five day in person learning no later than April 28, 2021
  • High Schools return to five day in person learning is to be determined

For further information please navigate to https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop.html to read The Message about Guidance on In-Person Learning Requirements or the Plan for Phased Return to In-Person Learning.

Technology Update
Please be aware that there will be a disruption to Aspen, our student information system over the weekend of March 19, 20 and 21.  Aspen will be taken down around 6:00 PM on the evening of Friday March 19th and will be unavailable until 6:00 AM on the morning of March 22nd. The reason for this is so that we transfer Aspen hosting responsibilities from BPS to Aspen. Please plan accordingly as families, students and staff will not have access to Aspen during this time.

Calendar
Please be aware that on Tuesday night the school committee updated the 2020-2021 Bedford Public Schools Calendar.  Please navigate to the calendar at BPS Calendar Updated 3/9/2021

Dollars for Scholars
A reminder that CSF of Bedford Dollars for Scholars will be conducting a Mail-a-thon Fundraiser in March 2021.  The Mail-a-thon fundraiser is designed to gather support for the scholarships our high school seniors will need more than ever. Bedford residents will receive personal letters in early March asking for their continued generous support of CSF of Bedford Dollars for Scholars. All contributions are awarded as financial scholarships to seniors heading off to college or pursuing other education.

Online donations can be made at https://bit.ly/DollarsForScholarsMail-a-thon2021 All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. If paying by check, please make payable to “CSF of Bedford” and mail to: CSF of Bedford Dollar for Scholars, PO Box 585, Bedford, MA 01730.  Thank you as always for your support of our students.

Continued Return of Students to In Person Learning
The Davis and Lane schools continue to prepare to bring students back in four days a week.  There is also an emphasis at JGMS and BHS to bring back as many students who would benefit from more in person learning.  All of these efforts are ongoing as we also plan to comply with the Commissioner’s guidance to bring students back to school five days a week. Aiding us with these changes are the updates that DESE made to their Transportation Guidance on February 11, 2021.  To read the Reopening Transportation Guidance go to  https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop.html

Pool Testing
We began our Pool Testing program this week with a pilot testing of staff at each of our schools. I am happy to report that all of our  pools came back negative! Information was sent to parents, guardians, and caretakers on Wednesday.  Please utilize the links in that communication to register your student(s) for this free service.  We are excited to begin this important seventh pillar with our partners from DESE, CIC Health of Cambridge, and Abbott BinaxNOW.

Mental Health Seminars
The Bedford Health and Human Services Department in collaboration with the Bedford Public Schools Counseling Department are pleased to offer a number of upcoming webinars including:

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 7pm
QPR: How anyone can question, persuade, and refer someone considering suicide
.  This free webinar is being presented by Jon Mattleman on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 from 7:00pm until 8:30pm. Participants will learn about how to get help for yourself or learn more about preventing suicide, common myths, warning signs, and the simple steps that anyone can take.  This presentation is for an adult audience. To register please go to Mind Your Mind Registration 

Monday, March 29th at 7 pm
Building Skills for Managing Big Emotions
– A session focused on parents and caregivers of our
younger learners, but all are welcome. As the pandemic continues, we know that many parents are understandably feeling weighed down by pandemic fatigue and, for some families, this is
compounded by the fact that children are experiencing more intense emotions. This session will offer strategies and coping tools to manage intense moments with your child. This webinar features Dr. Rachel Kramer, Ph.D. www.drrachelkramer.com

Monday, April 5th at 7 pm
Supporting Emotional Well-Being for Tweens and Teens
– This session will present the ways we can understand and support our teens and tweens regarding the developmental issues they face. Strategies will focus on helping parents and caregivers feel more confident and courageous to engage in difficult discussions with the youths in their lives. This webinar features Dr. Rachel Kramer, Ph.D. www.drrachelkramer.com

Monday, April 12th at 7 pm
Pandemic Parenting One Year In: Supporting Social Development and Combating Social
Atrophy – During the pandemic, we are all getting much less practice with face-to-face communication. Children and adults worry about not knowing how to relate to people once pandemic restrictions are lifted. This session will focus on strategies for parents and caregivers to support their children’s social skills and combat social atrophy. This webinar features Dr. Rachel Kramer, Ph.D. www.drrachelkramer.com

For any of these webinars please register here: https://forms.gle/ozZAKtKDdpr63ewJ7 or contact Christopher Bang our Community Social Worker at cbang@bedfordma.gov or the Bedford Health and Human Services Department with any questions at health@bedfordma.gov  or 781-275-6507.

The Bedford Emergency Food Bank
We all know that access to healthy food options and nutrition are important to overall physical and mental health and well-being for all of us and particularly for our students. The Bedford Emergency Response Food Bank operates a drive thru program on Thursdays from 4:00pm until 5:30pm at the Town Center (Yellow) Building, 12 Mudge Way, Rear Parking lot. No registration is required and no personal data is requested.  Food is delivered contact free, a vehicle pulls up to the food bank and the groceries are placed in your trunk.  Thanks to the generosity of Food Banks donors and partners, they are able offer fresh produce and protein, along with pantry staples.  This is a service of the Town of Bedford and all residents are encouraged to participate as needed. If you have questions about this service, please visit the webpage or contact Carla Olson at the Health and Human Services Department:  781-275-7727 X4330.

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.

As always, thank you for your patience, your participation, and your continued commitment to our schools.


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