What Will Schools Look Like in the Fall?  Supt. Conrad Outlines Changes

Bedford Schools will resemble their pre-pandemic environment when classes resume in September.

But not completely.

There will be several pandemic-era safeguards that continue, most of which promote overall health.

Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad told the School Committee at a virtual meeting on Tuesday that protocols, particularly masks in schoolhouses, will continue through the end of the current school year, which includes summer classes.

At the state level, “it appears we will be going to pre-pandemic conditions,” Conrad said. For example, cafeterias will be used for their original purpose.

Bedford will need to make a decision at the district level about the use of masks, which as of now are not being mandated by the state, Conrad indicated.

Many operational changes in the buildings will remain, he said, such as higher levels of ventilation equipment and filtration. Personal protective equipment will be available for those who request it, and hand sanitizing stations will remain outside most classrooms.

Conrad said he is waiting to hear about details requiring evening disinfection from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “My guess is we will continue to exceed those recommendations,” he observed.

These steps will not only keep people safe as the pandemic winds down but also thwart contagion of colds and flu, Conrad pointed out.

Committee member Sarah Scoville asked if personnel “will be going back to the jobs they were hired for.” Conrad said, “A number of people changed positions due to Covid. All of those positions will go away at the end of the school year.”

If they had positions in the district prior to the changes, they will revert to those jobs, he said. They can also apply for new positions available. Newly-accredited teaching assistants will find expanded opportunities in the market, he noted.

“It will be sad to lose some of these people but some of them have had good and maybe life-changing experiences,” Conrad said.

Conrad praised all categories of school personnel for their performance during the past year. He mentioned custodians, teaching and educational assistants, teachers, principals and administrators, counselors, and administrative assistants. “Everybody stepped up.”

The superintendent also seconded Scoville’s praise for Facilities Director Taissir Alani.

The School Committee will learn about plans for 2021-22 class sizes at its June 22 meeting.

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763

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