Superintendent Conrad’s Friday Update – June 18, 2021

In his final newsletter of the 2020-2021 school year, Superintendent Conrad, as always includes a wide variety of school news.

June 18, 2021
Today marks the end of the 2020-2021 school year.  In a year unlike any other, it has certainly been a long haul! I would like to thank our nurses, teachers, educational assistants, teaching assistants, administrators, administrative assistants, custodians, facilities department, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, crossing guards, and school committee who helped us get through this very difficult year. I also want to thank all of the parent and community groups that supported us through a variety of virtual and socially distanced fundraisers, activities, meetups, book reads, and webinars. Finally, I want to thank the community at large for the support they have provided to our schools throughout the pandemic. I hope that everyone is able to rest and recharge this summer.

Juneteenth
Saturday, June 19, 2021 will mark the first time that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will celebrate Juneteenth and as of last night President Biden has signed into law that Juneteenth is now a Federal holiday. To read the proclamation, navigate to White House Briefing Room Juneteenth.  Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the emancipation of enslaved people and the end of the Civil War. For more information please navigate to National Museum of African American History’s Page on Juneteenth

Retirees
With the end of the school year we are saying goodbye to a few people who are on to the next chapter in their lives, retirement! Join me in thanking and congratulating the following Bedford Public Schools retirees. We are grateful for all that you have done for the children and families of Bedford over many years!

From the Davis School: Mary Warwick, Rhonda Perry, and Barbara Collins
From Bedford High School: Nancy D’Andragora, Karen Ford, David Foster, Roseanne Ham, Donna Higson, Alison Lohrum, and Sherm Primmerman
From John Glenn Middle School: Amy Budka, and Anthony Ruscito
District-wide: Paula Rochefort in the Business Office, and Jeff Wardwell our School Resource Officer

Commissioner’s Update
On June 16, 2021 Commissioner Riley updated superintendents about summer protocols, testing options for the fall, medical rooms, and the Acceleration Roadmaps. Earlier this school year we were told that masks would be required for summer school, on Wednesday the Commissioner let us know that while masks are recommended they are not required for adults and students during summer school. This includes school offices and the central office. Please know that masks and other personal protective equipment will be available at each school throughout the summer and into next school year. During the same meeting Associate Commissioner Johnston let us know that DESE is working on testing options for the 2021-2022 school year.  These options may include pool testing, diagnostic testing, and close contact testing.  More information about this will be available in August. The Commissioner also let us know that we will no longer need to have a seperate medical room for suspected COVID-19 positive students.  Instead, they can be masked and kept at a distance from others until they can be sent home.  To review any of this information please go to the DESE website at https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/faq/. Finally as was mentioned last week DESE has developed the DESE Acceleration Roadmap: Pathway to an Equitable Recovery.  There are actually two guides, one for classroom teachers and another for school leaders.  The Acceleration Roadmaps can be found on the DESE website at  https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop/roadmap/

Finally, as we look to the fall our current expectations are that we will return to full in person learning five days per week, that the mask requirement will become a mask recommendation especially for those who are not vaccinated and that we are not expecting to have any social distancing, class size, or gathering limitations in our schools. Out of an abundance of caution we will continue to maximize airflow through our HVAC system, continue using MERV-13 filters, utilize HEPA filtration machines in all occupied spaces, stock and utilize hand sanitizing stations, make personal protective equipment available to anyone who wants it, and to do periodic disinfecting.

BPS Art Show
The 27th Annual Bedford K-12 Art Show will be held virtually this year. While it is certainly not a similar experience as our traditional in-person event, this online gallery allows student work to be displayed and enjoyed by all families and friends world-wide! Thank you to our Art teachers who have been uploading thousands of student artwork to the online gallery.  The Virtual Art Show will go live on Monday, June 14, 2021 at  The 27th Annual BPS Art Show and will feature student work from Davis, Lane, JGMS, BHS as well as selected work from BHS alumni. Please be sure to visit the show to view the fantastic student artwork!

Moving Beyond COVID Webinar
Please join us in exploring some of the challenges and issues that might become apparent as we transition back to regular activities. This is an online support session for Bedford residents and Town/School Employees. Sara Hickey, LCSW, at Eliot Community Human Services will be the presenter. This is brought to you by the Bedford Health and Human Services Department.
Wednesday, June 23rd @ 7 pm Moving Beyond COVID Webinar Link

Depression Awareness Webinar
Families for Depression Awareness is presenting a free Adult Depression: Getting on the Path to Wellness as a Family webinar on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. In this webinar, Dr. Christine M. Crawford discusses the causes and symptoms of depression in adults, practical ways that caregivers can support a loved one in getting help and accessing treatment, and how caregivers can support their families during episodes of depression. Register to join us for a live webinar discussion or watch on demand after it airs.

COVID-19 Vaccination
We are happy to report that the rates of vaccinations continue to grow! To date 61% of our JGMS student population and 65% of our BHS student population has been vaccinated. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

Pool Testing
This week was our 6th and final round of pooled testing using home saliva kits through Veritas Genetics.  So far we have not had any reports of positive pooled testing results from yesterday’s samples.  We will notify you if we receive notification that your child’s saliva sample was positive.

We anticipate further guidance from DESE and DPH regarding testing options for COVID-19.  We will send more updates as we learn more.  Thank you to all families who have participated in the pooled testing programs this school year.

Food Bank
The Bedford Food Bank is looking for volunteers to bag food and other supplies.  Service at the Food Bank can be counted toward Community Service Hours for students. Volunteers must be 15 years of age or older, able to manage repetitive lifting of up to 25 pounds, and commit to a somewhat regular schedule. This is a rewarding effort that directly benefits our Bedford neighbors! For more information the Bedford Food Bank website at www.bedfordma.gov/BedfordFoodBank or send an email to healthybedford@bedfordma.gov and thank you for considering this opportunity.

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