Supt. Jackson is Sold on Shawsheen Tech; Bedford’s Enrollment on the Rise

“I think Shawsheen Tech is Bedford’s best-kept secret.”

Dr. Bradford L. Jackson, superintendent-director of Shawsheen Valley Technical High School in Billerica, is also a huge booster.

Jackson is not only in his first year at the helm of Shawsheen Tech, but also comes from a background of a traditional comprehensive high school system. He most recently served as superintendent of schools in Holliston for 16 years and is the immediate past president of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents.

Full-time, In-Person Learning for All Bedford Students Begins on April 26

Correction: Bedford’s return to school date is April 26, not April 16 as erroneously posted in Wednesday’s headline

Students at Bedford High School and John Glenn Middle School are scheduled to return to full-time in-person learning on Monday, April 26, School Superintendent Philip Conrad told the School Committee at its meeting Tuesday, bringing the school system ever closer to pre-pandemic conditions not seen for more than a year.

Details from Superintendent Conrad for Bedford’s Return to Full-Time, In-Person Learning

I wanted to let you know that we are busy planning for the return of students to all four schools five (5) days per week.

This is so that we can be in compliance with the Commissioner’s announcement on March 9, 2021, that Hybrid and Remote learning days will no longer be counted towards Student Learning Time (SLT) as of April 5, 2021, for elementary school students and April 28, 2021, for middle school students.

Les Miz Meets the 21st Century; BHS Musical Streaming in May

Jean Valjean, with all due respect, had some bad days. But he never knew what it’s like to have to abandon a high school musical performance on the threshold of opening night because of a sudden global pandemic.

Valjean and the other characters from Les Misérables are a big part of the response to last spring’s colossal disappointment at Bedford High School.

Preparations are in high gear at the high school for a filmed version of the sung-through musical Les Misérables (school edition), by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo. The decision was made early to bypass live performances, and that turned out to be the right call, as Covid-19 protocols are still in place.

Breaking News: JGMS and BHS Students will Return to Full-Time, In-Person Learning on April 26

Students at Bedford High School and John Glenn Middle School are scheduled to return to full-time in-person learning on Monday, April 26, School Superintendent Philip Conrad told the School Committee at its meeting Tuesday, bringing the school system ever closer to pre-pandemic conditions not seen for more than a year.

The return is facilitated by the recent change in guidelines by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that three feet of student separation in the classroom is no riskier than the former standard of six feet, as long as masks and other protocols are observed.

“I have instructed the principals, leadership teams, and transition teams at John Glenn Middle School and Bedford High School to bring students back students back with three-foot distancing and maintain six-foot distancing in front of the room for educators,” Conrad reported. “Elementary students are all back in at six feet and I see no reason to change to three feet because they are making it work.”

All Bedford schools will be adding Wednesday classroom time to meet the state’s five-day requirement.

The commissioner of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has announced that the hybrid model will no longer be counted as required learning time for elementary schools as of April 5 and middle schools as of April 28. Bedford will meet both of those deadlines, Conrad said, adding that the state commissioner has not announced a return date for high schools.

The current remote learning option will be retained for students who for medical or other reasons require them. Conrad noted that the commissioner announced that a remote option will not be required for the coming school year.

The superintendent and the committee Tuesday focused on ensuring that situations that bring children together — lunch and bus transportation — are in compliance with safety standards.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases at BHS and JGMS~ March 23, 2021

March  23, 2021
* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at JGMS (JGMS case #16). Close contacts identified. 
* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at Bedford High School (BHS case #54). Close contacts identified. 
* There are currently four (4) active COVID-19 positive cases in the JGMS community and four (4) active COVID-19 positive cases in the Bedford High School community at this time. 
* These cases do not appear to be connected or related to previous cases identified in the schools.   

Shawsheen Tech will Return to 100% In-Person Learning on May 3

Dr. Bradford Jackson, superintendent-director of Shawsheen Valley Technical High School in Billerica, last week announced that planning is underway “for a full reopening before the end of the school year. We have not set a specific date yet—our goal is early May.”

In a March 23 message to the community, Jackson and Principal Jessica Cook confirmed the school’s plan to return students to a 100% in-person learning model on Monday, May 3, 2021.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Case at BHS ~ March 22, 2021

March 22, 2021

* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at Bedford High School (BHS case #53), no close contacts. 
* There are currently three (3) active COVID-19 positive cases in the BHS Community at this time. 
* These cases do not appear to be connected or related to previous cases identified in school.  

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases at JGMS and BHS ~ March 19, 2021

March 19, 2021

* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at John Glenn Middle School (JGMS case #15).  Close contacts have been identified. 
* Two (2) new COVID-19 positive cases at Bedford High School (BHS cases #51 & 52). No close contacts.  
* There are currently three (3) active COVID-19 positive cases in the JGMS community and two (2) active COVID-19 positive cases in the Bedford High School community.  
* For the new  BHS cases, they do not appear to be connected to or related to previous cases identified in the schools. 
* For the new JGMS case, while this case is not indicative of in-school transmission, the impacted individual has had out-of-school connection with a previous JGMS case. 

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Case at JGMS ~ March 17, 2021

March 17, 2021

* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at John Glenn Middle School (JGMS case #14).  Close contacts have been identified. 
* There are currently two (2) active COVID-19 positive cases in the JGMS community.
* While this case is not indicative of in-school transmission, the impacted individual has had out-of-school connection with a previous JGMS case. 

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Case at JGMS ~ March 16, 2021

March 16, 2021
* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at John Glenn Middle School (JGMS case #13).  Close contacts have been identified.
* There is currently one (1) active COVID-19 positive case in the JGMS community.
* This case does not appear to be connected or related to previous cases identified in the schools.

Together Again: Davis and Lane Students Return to School

For the first time in a little more than a year, almost all students in first through fifth grades returned to their classrooms together at Davis and Lane Schools on Monday.

The long-planned return featured all of the safety protocols that have served as a foundation for part-time, in-school learning this academic year, including masks and physical distancing.

Thanks to classroom conversions and expansions and additional teachers, the two former hybrid cohorts have been consolidated full-time, four days a week. Kindergarteners returned to the four-days-a-week schedule last month.

There is still a cohort of students who are fully remote.

“I visited both schools today and was thrilled to see all of the children in classes with their teachers,” Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad said. “Everyone was excited to be back and both schools treated it like the first day of school.”

Conrad has said that John Glenn Middle School and Bedford High School will also be reopening sometime in April.

Eleazer Davis School Principal Beth Benoit was delighted with the outcome. “We are feeling good about where we are,” she stated. “We had a wonderful day as everyone was getting used to being with each other.”

“It was a busy day but a good day,” said Rob Ackerman, Job Lane School principal. “The kids adjusted great, the teachers were terrific, and it was very smooth inside the building.”

“The number one issue that everyone will have to get accustomed to is the increased traffic in the school neighborhood,” he reported. There are more cars, he said, not only because of distancing that reduces bus capacity but also since many parents are reluctant to send their children to and from school on buses.

The school, off Sweetwater Avenue, is “not that great for easy access. We are working with the police trying to see what we can do,” Ackerman said.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases at Davis & BHS ~ March 15, 2021

Today I was informed of one (1) new case of COVID-19 within the Davis School Community and one (1) new case within the Bedford High School community.  Both of these cases are in isolation at home.  Davis School Case #19 was NOT present in school during their infectious period and investigations determined no close contacts in the Davis School Community.  BHS case #50 was present in school during their infectious period and investigations determined that there were no close contacts identified in the BHS community. Information on close contact identification, contacting tracing and where and when to get tested, can be found in our FAQ.

Sabourin Field or Tsongas Arena for Commencement?

Nudged by concerns about Covid-19, the pendulum is swinging toward Armand Sabourin Field as the venue for Bedford High School commencement exercises on June 3.

Initially, the first choice was the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. School Superintendent Philip Conrad told the School Committee Tuesday that many area schools have used Tsongas, which has a capacity of more than 6,000.

Facilities Director Reassures School Committee on Classroom Ventilation

The Bedford schools’ facilities director left no doubt at the Bedford School Committee’s meeting Tuesday that Lane School classrooms are a safe place to breathe.

Facilities Director Taissir Alani delivered a detailed presentation on classroom ventilation, featuring how the equipment works and how it is maintained.

Superintendent Conrad’s Friday Update – March 12, 2021

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.

BHS & JGMS on Track for Full-time, In-Person Learning before State’s April 28 Deadline

Bedford High School and John Glenn Middle School are on track to reopen for full-time learning before the end of April, administrators told the School Committee at its virtual meeting Tuesday. “My expectation is that we will be either on time or ahead of schedule,” said School Superintendent Philip Conrad. “Our planning committee continues to work and will come back. We will definitely beat the 28th.” April 28 is the state-imposed deadline for all public schools to reopen grades 6-8.