Superintendent Conrad’s Friday Update – April 9, 2021

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The Superintendent of Schools’ weekly newsletter covers a variety of topics.

Ramadan
The Holy month of Ramadan will begin on Monday, April 12, 2021 at sunset. Ramadan is a month of fasting, introspection, and prayer for Muslims around the world. The month commemorated the month in which the prophet Muhammad received the initial revelations which became the Quran.  The Holy month will end with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr which is a major holiday for Muslims. For more information about Ramadan please navigate to https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/ramadan

Safe Routes to School
With warmer weather approaching students at all four schools will be walking and riding to school as part of the Safe Routes to School program. Please keep in mind that as you drive in and around our school buildings at the time of arrival and dismissal. For more information about the Safe Routes to School Program please visit https://www.mass.gov/safe-routes-to-school

This is particularly important at the Lane School. Since the start of the school year, the Lane School has been continuously working to reduce the traffic congestion at  drop off and the afternoon pickup. The administrators have worked with Town departments and advisory boards to improve the traffic flow in and around the Lane School. However, the neighborhood continues to have concerns with the increased traffic and speed of cars on Sweetwater Ave.  Please remember that the School Zone speed is 20 MPH. Beginning on Monday, April 26th Lane School will be implementing the following arrival and departure times.

Drop Off                                                         Pick Up
Grade 5: Arrive on Sweetwater at 8:20    Grade 3- Arrive on Sweetwater  at 2:35
Grade 3:  Arrive on Sweetwater at 8:25    Grade 4- Arrive on Sweetwater at 2:45
Grade 4:  Arrive on Sweetwater at 8: 30    Grade 5-Arrive on Sweetwater at 2:55

BEST Color Run
BEST (Bedford Elementary Schools Together) Save the Date for the Virtual Color Run on Thursday, June 3 through Monday, June 7, 2021 More information coming soon.

BEF (Bedford Education Foundation)
The BEF has announced their Virtual Bedford Themed Bingo Night to support the BEF! Please join them on Saturday, May 1st, 7:00 pm for a fun night of Virtual Bingo and other surprises to benefit the Bedford Education Foundation!  Wear your Bedford colors, gear, etc. and Zoom with friends for a super fun night for a great cause. There will be prizes and other festivities between rounds, you will not want to miss it! Registration is via the Donation page on the BEF’s website at: https://bedfordeducation.org/donate. Please include your name and how many cards you would like to play in the comment section. If others in your family want to play separately, they will need their own registration and card(s). Price is $10 per card, not per person. We will send each registered email address links to both the Zoom and your card(s) before the night of the event.

Parents Diversity Council – Spring Book Discussion
The Bedford Parents Diversity Council is hosting a spring book discussion group. This will be their last book series of the 2020 – 2021 school year.  The PDC provides all of us with an opportunity to continue to dive deeply into American History and look at our history from different lenses. They will be discussing the book: A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America , by Ronald Takaki and adapted by Rebecca Stefoff. Readers will meet over 3 sessions in April and May on: April 28th at 7 PM, May 12th, at 7 PM and May 26th, at 7 PM.  Participants are not required to attend every meeting. Discounted copies of the book are available to purchase for $14.60, or free through library download.  To RSVP and/or purchase a book, email pdcbedford@gmail.com.  The Zoom link will be sent after registration.

TRI-TOWN Mental Health Collaboration
The Boards of Health of Concord, Bedford and Carlisle, in collaboration with the Bedford Public Schools Counseling Department and Center for Parents and Teachers, offer a free parent education program and a faculty professional development program presented by nationally renowned author and therapist Lynn Lyons, LICSW.

Parents & Caregivers: “Now What? Helping Families Manage Emotionally During Uncertain Times”
Children and teens were struggling with increasing rates of anxiety and depression prior to 2020, and this past year didn’t help! Parents and caregivers need strategies to help children (and themselves!) manage the uncertainty of our current environment as we recover and move forward. This presentation describes the skills needed for emotional management including how to increase flexibility, tolerate uncertainty, communicate effectively and replace catastrophic thinking with problem-solving.

Faculty: “Managing (and Preventing) Anxiety & Depression in the Classroom” With educators dealing with increasing rates of student (and parent) anxiety and worry, the struggle to balance academic success (and expectations) with anxiety’s demands for certainty and comfort feels untenable. And it is! Learning requires a degree of uncertainty and flexibility, the ability to step into new territory as kids learn and grow. Worry demands the opposite. With all the best intentions, this struggle often results in accommodations that support avoidance and rigidity, rather than teaching the skills needed to both prevent and manage anxiety over time. In this workshop, we’ll dig into the difference between accommodations that support anxiety and approaches that build skills. The goal is to equip educators with overarching strategies and concrete plans that serve to both help anxious students thrive and prevent worry from intruding on the learning process.

  • Session for High School Faculty: Wednesday, April 28, 3:30 to 5:30 PM online (Offered to faculty of Bedford High School and Concord-Carlisle High School (and middle school teachers unable to attend the session held on May 3rd). Please pre-register using your work email to receive login link  HS Faculty Seminar
  • Session for PreK through Grade 8 Faculty: Monday, May 3, 3:30 to 5:30 PM online
    Offered to faculty of PreK, Elementary and Middle Schools from the towns of Bedford, Concord, and Carlisle. Please pre-register using your work email address to receive login link Pre K – 8 Faculty Seminar

To read more details about these programs, including full background information about our presenter at The Center for Parents and Teachers.

COVID Testing
As more and more people gain access to COVID-19 vaccination, we are indeed getting closer to the other side of the pandemic. That said, we are not out of the woods! Please continue to use precautions including wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, getting vaccinated, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, washing hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and monitoring your health daily.

Remember, getting tested regularly, even once vaccinated, is the only way to know if you’re infected. The vaccine itself will not make you test positive, only COVID infection will. Testing is Critical for Control! As a Bedford community or staff member you are eligible to take advantage of regular, FREE testing at the Saturday testing site at Middlesex Community College. Make an appointment here: www.Bedfordma.gov/testing

Travel Order
As we approach our April School Vacation week please keep in mind Governor Baker’s MA Travel Advisory. The new travel advisory urges all persons entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, to be advised to quarantine for 10 days upon their arrival if they have been out of the state for 24 hours or more. The advisory does not apply to anyone in the following categories:
Anyone who is returning to Massachusetts after an absence of fewer than 24 hours.

  • Travelers who have a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to their arrival in Massachusetts.
  • Workers who enter Massachusetts to perform critical infrastructure functions (as specified by the Federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) while they are commuting to or from or while at work.
  • Travelers who are fully vaccinated (i.e. who have received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines OR who have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 14 days or more ago and who do not have symptoms).

Travelers are additionally encouraged to consult and follow the CDC’s guidelines and requirements for travel.

DESE Updates
The Commissioner announced that the Commonwealth will modify the graduation requirements for the Class of 2022 and extend the MCAS testing window through June 11, 2021 to provide flexibility to local districts.  Current juniors and seniors may still take the spring MCAS to qualify for the Adams Scholarship and the Koplik Certificate of Mastery.

Pool Testing Update
This week we tested 500 students and 68 staff.  We had one positive pool at JGMS and one positive pool at Lane School.  With both pools we were able to quickly identify the positive case using the rapid antigen test BinaxNOW.  Our pool testing program was able to identify 2 asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 out of the 568 individuals tested.  These individuals otherwise would not have known they had COVID-19.  Thank you to all families who have been cooperative in this process.  We will continue the DESE pooled testing program in the upcoming weeks and families may still sign up.

Please consider signing up your child for weekly asymptomatic surveillance testing. Routine surveillance testing is the best way to discover who is infected and doesn’t know it. If your child is part of a positive pool, we will arrange for rapid testing as soon as possible, and if the rapid tests are negative, it usually results in only a 24 hour timeline of individual testing.  Please see the information in the following document to register your child.

Pooled Testing Sign Up 
We are excited to continue this important seventh pillar with our partners from DESE, CIC Health of Cambridge, and Abbott BinaxNOW.  If you have questions about the pooled testing process, or need assistance with the sign up process and/or would like to request a paper consent form, please reach out to our School Nurse Leader/JGMS Nurse, Tracy Fernald, and/or the school nurse at your child’s school.
The Town of Bedford also offers free testing on Saturdays through May 1st for Bedford residents and staff. Please navigate to: www.bedfordma.gov/testing for information and to make an appointment for a free test.

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!

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


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