Superintendent Conrad’s Weekly Update ~ January 28, 2022

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Editor’s Note: In his email on Friday, Jan. 28, Superintendent Conrad outlined a new Covid protocol and its opt-in along with DESE’s recommended testing schedule;  along with news about Black History Month beginning on Monday,  this week’s National Honor Society induction ceremony, some community news, and this week’s Covid statistics for the schools.

New COVID protocol with Opt-in

On Friday, January 21, 2022 we enrolled in The new DESE/DPH COVID-19 Testing Program. This program will provide a test kit to every staff or student Pre-K through twelfth grade who opts into the program and is in addition to our pooled and symptomatic testing programs. For students under the age of 18, a parent must complete the opt-in form, anyone over 18 can opt-in themselves. The at-home style antigen test kits provide two tests, one to be used each week for a two-week period. Everyone who opts in will receive a new kit every two weeks. DESE has told us that the program is guaranteed through April 2022. We began the program this week by offering the tests to our staff. Staff signed up using the opt-in Google form provided to them and will receive their kits today on Friday, January 28, 2022.

At this point, we would like to offer the program to all of our students. If you would like to opt-in to the program please click here

 At-Home Antigen Test Opt-In Google Form

We will distribute tests each week on a rotating basis. One week we will provide kits to staff, the next week we will provide kits to students.

Please sign up by Monday afternoon by 5 PM, to set our distribution lists for each school.  The home tests are meant to offset the testing days done at school so that there are two days a week of testing monitoring being done.

DESE Recommended Testing Schedule 

It is important to note that this program is available to all who opt-in regardless of whether you are enrolled in pooled testing or not. The link to the opt-in form will allow you access to a two-week (at a time) supply of in-home antigen COVID-19 tests. These tests will augment our pooled tests giving each of us the opportunity to have two COVID-19 tests per week.

To be clear, both programs are voluntary and both are independent of one another. You can sign up for one or both. The at-home test should be used weekly, regardless of whether you have symptoms. If your child tests positive on an at-home antigen test, they should stay home and you are asked to inform your school nurse of the positive result.

Black History Month

Black History Month begins on Monday and is an annual celebration of the achievements of African Americans and a time to recognize the central role African Americans have played in our history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history. For more information please go to History.com Black History Month Information

NHS Induction Ceremony

Congratulations to our newest National Honor Society members at Bedford High School! On Wednesday night sixty-three juniors and seniors were inducted into the Bedford High School Chapter of the National Honor Society. The ceremony was conducted by NHS President Insun Hong, Principal Heather Gallante, and Advisor Hermance Anna Septembre and was punctuated with a new tradition, a faculty speaker invited by the officers of the chapter. The inaugural speaker was Ms. Benes-Rosecan of the BHS Social Studies Department. Congratulations to the entire chapter!

February Vacation Week

Just a reminder that this year our February School Vacation Week is Monday, February 21, 2022, through Friday, February 25, 2022.

2022-2023 School Year Calendar

On January 25, 2022, the Bedford School Committee voted on the 2022-2023 school year calendar. The calendar can be found on the website here. The highlights include a start date for students after the Labor Day holiday on Tuesday, September 6, 2022.

Announcement of Chief Bongiorno

On Monday, January 24, 2022, Chief Robert Bongiorno announced to the Bedford Select Board that he planned to retire at the end of the month of February 2022. Chief Bongiorno has been our police chief for the past ten years. His announcement caps off a thirty-two-year career in law enforcement. On behalf of the Bedford Public Schools, I would like to thank Chief Bongiorno for his support of our schools, our students, and our staff. To read about the Chief’s announcement please navigate to ​​Bedford Citizen 1/25/2022

Bedford Embraces Diversity, Parent Diversity Council, and Bedford METCO Events

On Friday, January 21, 2022, we along with our neighbors in Concord and Concord-Carlisle marked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 93rd birthday with a presentation by Ronald Jones. Mr. Ron Jones is the Executive Director/Artistic Principal of Dialogues on Diversity. Mr. Jones presented a performance entitled: MLK and the Strength of Shared Dreams.

NEW COVID-19 Email Addresses

Please continue to utilize the COVID-19 email addresses for all COVID-19 related inquiries.

All cases of COVID-19 (both home tests and tests from a medical provider) should be reported to your child’s school nurse using the above-listed email addresses.   When reporting a positive case of COVID-19 please include the following information.

  • Name of child
  • Grade of child
  • Date of symptom onset or the date the positive test was taken
  • Date of testing and type of test performed (PCR or antigen)
  • If the positive test was obtained from a home test, if possible, please schedule a PCR lab test to confirm.
  • Date the last time your child was present in school
  • Does your child attend school activities or sports and list the activity or team

Masks

Adult-sized masks are available in all four school buildings. Child-sized masks are available at the health offices of Davis, Lane, and JGMS. Please let your child know they are there and available. Thank you to BEST (Bedford Elementary Schools Together) for purchasing a large number of child-sized KN95 masks. We appreciate the support!

Please note that masks are required in all of our buildings and that proper use of masks is particularly important

Case Update Information

Moving forward we will continue to track reported positive student and staff cases via self-administered home-style antigen tests, as well as point of care tests (either PCR, rapid PCR, or rapid antigen).  DESE guidance has been updated, and with the shortage of testing available, self-administered home-style antigen tests with a positive result are accepted and treated as a positive case of COVID-19. The dashboard is now up-to-date and can be accessed here:

Link to COVID-19 Cases in the Bedford Public Schools This Week

Please be sure to report any positive COVID-19 test results to the absence line or your school’s covid email address listed above.

Safety Check Testing

It is important to note that our COVID-19 safety check testing protocol is up and running weekly at each school. We urge everyone to sign up to be part of our protective testing program.

Next week we will continue with the single swab collection, we are placing 2 swabs in a “pool” to be processed by the lab, and if the pool detects a positive result, the school nurses will retest those 2 individuals with rapid antigen tests, and if positive families will be notified and instructed on isolation procedures.  If the rapid test is negative and the individual is symptom-free, they will be retested the following day, and if still negative and symptom-free, they can resume weekly COVID-19 testing.

Pooled Testing Results Week of January 24, 2022

  • BHS 98 students, 61 staff, 1 positive case
  • JGMS 237 students, 33 staff, 2 positive cases
  • Lane 346 students, 49 staff,  2 positive cases
  • Davis 289 students, 47 staff, 2  positive cases

If you have not done so already and would like to you can sign up for testing at

BPS COVID-19 Testing Sign Up Link

By signing up for testing you provide an additional layer of protection for your child, your family, and our schools. I cannot urge you strongly enough to participate in this free service.

COVID Case Updates

Please check the link below to review current and past cases of COVID-19 cases within our school community.  Thank you to our school nurses who have been continuing to update the case numbers daily. From Friday, January 21, 2022, to Thursday, January 27, 2022, we have had a total of 47 cases reported.   Please note that these numbers have been reported on the Bedford COVID-19 Dashboard. Our case information to date is broken out by school below

  • Davis School had 9 cases
  • Lane School had 12  cases
  • JGMS had 12 cases
  • BHS had 14 cases
  • BPS had 47 cases

Link to COVID-19 Cases in the Bedford Public Schools This Week

Budget

A budget hearing and final vote were held on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, and a presentation to the Bedford Finance Committee was made on Thursday, January 27, 2022.

Bedford Dollars for Scholars Trivia Night

Registration is now open for the Citizens Scholarship of Bedford Dollars for Scholars Trivia Night! Trivia Night will be held on Saturday, February 12, 2022, from 7:00 pm until 8:30 pm. Get your team ready for some Trivia Fun. Similar to last year, this will be a virtual event, brought to you by Stump! Trivia.  Virtual Doors open at 7:00 pm, the Trivia game is from 7:30 pm until 8:30 pm.  Teams of 6-10 players, $25 per person.  REGISTER EARLY, as this event sells out!  Proceeds go to scholarships for Bedford/Hanscom graduates who plan to continue their education. Team Captains, please register your team HERE, for more information please visit the CSF of Bedford website at  http://www.bedfordma.dollarsforscholars.org

Bedford Health and Human Services Department and The Massachusetts Partnership for Youth Workshop  “Just Talk About It”

The Bedford Health and Human Services Department and The Massachusetts Partnership for Youth are pleased to present a workshop entitled  “Just Talk About It” via Zoom on Monday, February 14th from 3-4:30 pm. The workshop is geared towards caregivers of adolescents facing mental health challenges.  The goal of the program is to teach adults how to utilize inclusive and supportive strategies to identify, understand, and respond to adolescent mental health challenges. All are welcome. To view the flyer or sign up for the webinar please click here. For more information please contact Mackenzie Comeau, Bedford Youth Social Worker at mcomeau@bedfordma.gov or at 781-918-4331.

Positions available

The Bedford Public Schools are seeking substitute teachers and Special Education Teaching Assistants.  If you are interested please apply at BPS Substitutes or to BPS Special Education Teaching Assistants.

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

Stay positive, test negative!


Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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