Health Department Says Vaccine Clinics Coming Soon

Covid-19 vaccinations will soon be available to residents eligible under the second phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, according to the Bedford Health and Human Services Department.

This means eligible residents could receive vaccinations as early as February, with the highest priority going to high-risk individuals and those at least age 75.

According to the department’s announcement, town-sponsored vaccination clinics are in their final stages of planning and are expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

“We are prepared to offer clinics two days a week and have the minimum capacity for distribution of 600 doses per week,” said Heidi Porter, Director of Health and Human Services. She said the number of vaccinations available is “100 percent dependent on vaccine availability from the state” and that the town has no direct connection to vaccine manufacturers.

Find a Location to Get Vaccinated

As of January 25th, vaccination opportunities are currently NOT available through the Town of Bedford as we have not yet been allocated vaccine from the state.

To find a location to get vaccinated, for eligible and active priority groups and phases, please navigate to https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccine-locations-for-individuals-in-phase-1#find-a-location-to-get-vaccinated-if-eligible-

School Committee Hears Teacher Feedback

Jan. 19, 2021—The exigencies of being a Bedford teacher during the Covid-19 pandemic are taking their toll.

Principals of Bedford four schools told the School Committee last week that most teachers are hurting. But they are also models of “flexibility, adaptability, resiliency.”

“People are tired and frustrated – and we don’t blame them,” said John Glenn Middle School Principal Kevin Tracy. But he emphasized, “You would not be able to tell that if you were in our schools.” He added that appreciation for town support was clear from staff feedback.

Bedford High School Heather Galante said the feedback was acquired through several channels: surveys at the end of last school year and at the beginning of this one, school council meetings, faculty, and departmental meetings, and, less formally, emails, phone conversations, and principals’ walks through their buildings.

She said general themes emerged from the scores of comments: health and safety, self-care and wellness, expectations and workload, and teaching and learning.

The goal of the summary, Galante said, is to provide a perspective from pre-kindergarten through high school, based on feedback received this year.

Superintendent’s Update ~ Friday, January 22, 2021

The January 22 message from Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad includes an appreciation for Bedford Embraces Diversity’s MLK Day breakfast, notice of the schools’ FY22 budget hearing on Feb. 2; an update on flu shots and DESE guidance, a link to the Town’s Covid dashboard; and other information.

Schools to Survey Families Regarding Full, In-Person Classes for the Current Academic Year

Bedford school principals soon will survey families to determine how many would send their children back to full in-person classes this academic year if there was that opportunity.

Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad told the School Committee on Jan. 12 that the results will help determine if “we can fill the capacity we have.” He emphasized that safety will not be compromised, and “we really want to partner with the parents and the teachers.”

School Nursing in the Time of Pandemic ~ Tracy Fernald, Nurse Leader for the Bedford Schools

Tracy Fernald misses the kids. And that’s saying something—she is the nurse at John Glenn  Middle School, where hybrid learning has continued since September, tiptoeing around the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It couldn’t be more different than it was prior,” Fernald explained. “We don’t have the typical revolving door of students coming in and out of the nurse’s office. Now there are a lot of phone calls, emails, case management meetings. They are such a big part of our day.”

Rising COVID-19 Case Counts in Bedford

Jan. 22, 2021—As the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the nation as a whole are in the midst of a surge in COVID- 19 cases, the Bedford Health Department reminds Bedford residents that the surge is happening here in town too.

Travel over Thanksgiving and the December holidays, socializing at gatherings, and mixing of households during celebrations are all situations believed to have contributed to the increase in positive cases. Additionally, based on contact tracing data, we know many of our cases are attributable to household contact – the virus is spread within the home when one infected (likely asymptomatic) family member has close contact with uninfected household members during their infectious period.

Because the virus is predominantly spread via droplet and aerosol transmission, mask-wearing is an important protective measure in preventing virus transmission. We bring this to your attention not to shame anyone or point fingers, but human nature is indeed a contributing factor to the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

With vaccine distribution underway in the pursuit of herd immunity, now is not the time to let down our guard. All safety protocols necessary to slow the spread have to continue to be followed: wear a mask, maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet, wash your hands frequently, sanitize common touch surfaces regularly, increase ventilation in indoor spaces, take advantage of testing opportunities, limit gatherings and encounters with people outside your immediate household and get vaccinated as soon as you can!

As of the writing of this article, the MA Department of Public Health (DPH) has reported one hundred sixty-six (166) Confirmed and Probable COVID-19 cases in Bedford since January 1st, which is about double the number of new cases from the previous 20 day time period. Thirty-five (35) cases have been reported within the Bedford Public School (BPS) Community since January 1s, a number almost equal to all the positive cases realized from the beginning of school through December 31, 2020. Only one of the BPS cases to date was suspected to result from in-school transmission.

With our current Incidence Rate of over 10/100,000 but a positivity rate under 5%, Bedford remains in the yellow “lower risk” category. If Bedford’s positivity rate reaches 5%, that will elevate us to the red or “higher risk” category. We were assigned that category for one week several months ago before the risk metrics were changed by the MA DPH. The red category releases additional outreach resources to the town from the state as well as triggers an elevated surveillance alert to the Bedford Public Schools (BPS), in that it would be one of many factors reviewed in the event schools had to close due to high case counts or evidence of widespread in-school transmission

FAQ COVID-19 Vaccine for Residents

With the release of vaccine for COVID-19 facing workers over the past few weeks, many are wondering when they may be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Bedford Health Department has prepared the following FAQ’s to address some of our residents’ questions.

Will the Town of Bedford have COVID-19 vaccination clinics?

Yes. Vaccination clinic planning is currently in its final stages, and clinics are expected to begin in the coming weeks. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH) will be releasing the vaccine to the Health Department for distribution to the community. The Health Department currently does not have vaccine.

Who can get the vaccine?

The state of Massachusetts through the MA DPH has coordinated a timeline for vaccine eligibility. Right now, the vaccine is only available to those listed in Phase One of the vaccine distribution plan from the Department of Public Health. To view currently eligible groups for vaccination, please navigate to: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/when-can-i-get-the-covid-19-vaccine

When can I get my vaccine?

The Health Department is required to follow Massachusetts state guidance for vaccine distribution and will offer the vaccine at our town sponsored clinics when eligible to begin Phase Two. Currently, Phase Two is expected to begin in February for the first priority group of high-risk individuals with 2+ comorbidities (high risk for COVID-19 complications), individuals 75+, etc. Please see the vaccine distribution timeline plan displayed by clicking the link above.

School Committee Mulls “Recovery” Budget for In-Classroom Learning

School Committee members explored in detail at their meeting on Jan. 12 the educational implications of returning to school in the fall with smaller class sizes, particularly at Davis and Lane Schools.

One of the fiscal 2022 budget options the committee is considering incorporates additional personnel to allow for expanding the number of classrooms.

The so-called “recovery” budget option assumes that almost all students will be back in school, and the primary reason for the additional classrooms is to sustain physical distancing. The assumption is that the pandemic, while perhaps receding, will still be a consideration.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases: 1 at BHS and 1 at Davis School ~ January 21, 2021

January 21, 2021

* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at Bedford High School (BHS case #39), no close contacts.
* There are currently three (3) active COVID-19 positive cases in the BHS community.
* This case does not appear to be connected or related to previous cases identified in school.

Last night I was informed that there has been one (1) new case of COVID-19 reported within the Bedford High School (BHS) Community.   This case is in isolation at home.  BHS case #39 was not present in school during their infectious period and investigations revealed that no close contacts were identified within the school community.

January 21, 2021,  later in the day

* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at Davis School (DS case #16), no close contacts. 
* There are currently two (2) active COVID-19 positive cases in the DS community.
* This case does not appear to be connected or related to previous cases identified in school.

Today I was informed that there has been one (1) new case of COVID-19 reported within the Davis School (DS) Community. This case is in isolation at home. DS case #16 was present in school during their infectious period and investigations revealed that no close contacts were identified within the school community.

Virtual Community Forum on February 10 to Address All Local Aspects of Covid-19

A virtual community forum addressing all local aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been scheduled for Wednesday evening, Feb. 10.

School Committee Chair Dan Brosgol announced the plan early in Tuesday evening’s School Committee meeting. In an interview later he pointed out that the presentation will not focus only on schools.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases ~ 2 each at BHS & Davis, 1 at JGMS ~ Jan. 19, 2021

January 19, 2021

* Two (2) new COVID-19 positive cases at Bedford High School (BHS case #37 & case #38), no close contacts. 
* One (1) new COVID-19 case at JGMS (JGMS case #9), close contacts have been identified. 
* Two (2) new COVID-19 positive cases at Davis School (DS case# 14 & 15), no close contacts. 

There are currently two (2) active COVID-19 positive cases in the BHS community,  three (3) active cases in the JGMS community, two (2) active cases in the Lane School community, and (3) active cases in the Davis School community at this time. 

These current cases do not appear to be connected or related to previous cases identified in these schools.

School Committee Budget Deliberations Move Forward

The Bedford School Committee is getting closer to decision time. Will it recommend a 3.75 percent budget increase for the coming year that reflects a return to pre-pandemic conditions? Or will it opt for a 7.1 budget increase that allows for a gradual recovery, including smaller class sizes across the elementary grades?

Some committee members say they need clarity on the advantages of a reduced classroom population before deciding

Superintendent’s Update ~ Friday, January 15, 2021

Just a reminder that Monday, January 18, 2021 is a federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The third Monday each January is a national day of service.  For more information about service opportunities please visit the MLK Day of Service website.  For more information about Dr. King please visit the National Park Service MLK Memorial website.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases ~ 1 each at Davis, Lane & JGMS ~ Jan. 14, 2021

January 14, 2021

* One (1) new COVID-19 case at Davis School (DS Case #12)
* One (1) new COVID-19 case at Lane School (LS Case #12) 
* One(1) new COVID-19 case at JGMS (JGMS Case #8) 
* There are currently three (3) active COVID-19 positive cases in the Davis School community,  three (3) active COVID-19 positive cases in Lane School community, three (3) active COVID-19 positive cases in the JGMS community, and seven (7) active COVID-19 positive cases in the Bedford High School community. All are at home in isolation.

Bedford Schools are Safe Places to be During the Pandemic

Jan. 12, 2021—Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad Tuesday presented the School Committee with four months of Covid-19 case data that indicate Bedford schools are safe places to be during the pandemic.

Between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, there were 26 cases of the coronavirus verified among faculty and staff and 14 involving students. Only one of those 40 cases was possibly transmitted in school, Conrad said, adding that even that one is categorized only because the source could not be ascertained.

The school-by-school breakdown is Davis School, five adults, and three students; Lane School, three adults, and three students; John Glenn Middle School, three adults, and one student; Bedford High School, 15 adults, and seven students.

“We had one case where there was no real clear transmission from person to person. We had to make the assumption that it was an in-school transmission,” Conrad reported. “All the others have been confirmed as outside of school.”

“It sounds like the schools are a very safe place,” said committee member Brad Morrison. His colleague JoAnn Santiago pointed out that the policy of six-foot physical distancing precluded close contact that could have resulted in transmission.

Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution Scheduled for Bedford Police and Firefighters

Bedford police and firefighters are scheduled to receive their first doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (Jan. 14-16.)

The setting will be at a regional clinic in a temporary building at Concord-Carlisle High School.

Heidi Porter, Director of the Bedford Health and Human Services Department, said the arrangement is in response to a state distribution policy.

Licensed Healthcare Volunteers Needed

The Town of Bedford is seeking actively licensed healthcare professionals with recent vaccine immunization experience who are interested in assisting with COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

While details about the clinics are formulating, it is anticipated that there will be a high need for vaccinators. The Town of Bedford is seeking LPN/RNs, NP/PAs, MDs/DOs, and Pharmacists who are comfortable giving immunizations.

Free COVID-19 Testing for Residents – Four Dates in January

The Town of Bedford is pleased to announce four dates in January for free COVID-19 PCR testing for Bedford residents. The testing clinics will take place at the rear of 12 Mudge Way, Town Center building (big yellow building).

The following are the dates/times for testing (weather permitting) and the registration window:

Saturday, January 16 from 9 am to noon
* Registration Opens on Wednesday, January 13 at 9 am 
* Registration Closes (*sooner if filled) on Friday, January 15 at 9 am

Tuesday, January 19 from 2 pm to 5 pm
* Registration Opens on Friday, January 15 at noon
* Registration Closes (*sooner if filled) on Tuesday, January 19 at 9 am

Saturday, January 23 from 9 am to noon
* Registration Opens on Wednesday, January 20 at 9 am
* Registration Closes (*sooner if filled) on Friday, January 22 at 9 am

Monday, January 25 from 2 pm to 5 pm 
* Registration Opens on Friday, January 22 at noon
* Registration Closes (*sooner if filled) on Monday, January 25 at 9 am

Residents are invited to use the link below to make an appointment for a COVID-19 test. There are a limited number of tests offered each day. Registration is first-come, first served until capacity is reached.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases ~ 1 at BHS, 1 at Davis, & 1 at Lane~ January 11, 2021

January 11, 2021

* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at Bedford High School (BHS case #34) no close contacts. 
* One(1) new COVID-19 case at Davis School (DS case #10) no close contacts.  
* One (1) new COVID-19 case at Lane School (LS case #11) close contacts have been identified. 

There are currently seven (7) active COVID-19 positive cases in the BHS Community,  two (2) active COVID-19 positive cases in the Davis School Community, and one (1) active case in the Lane School Community at this time.  

Bedford Board of Health Statement on Protective Measures in Bedford Public Schools

Bedford Board of Health encourages and supports that the Bedford Public Schools employ maximum social distancing possible, use of masks by all students and staff, promote frequent handwashing/sanitizing, regular cleaning and sanitizing of high touch surfaces, maximize air exchanges, have consideration for implementation of a testing program, and conduct daily screening for symptoms to minimize the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in students and staff.

Approved – January 4, 2021

Letter to the Editor: New Support for In-Person Learning from United Nations and Brown University School of Public Health

Thank you to Bill Knox, Abigail Hafer, Anne Caron, Dave Caron, Clare Shawcross, Andrew Van Praagh, and Catherine Van Praagh for reaching out with published references relating to statements I have made at BoH meetings about fully opening Bedford schools.  I have been enormously frustrated by the lack of public dialogue — and review of published, peer-reviewed data — in the decisions being made for the hundreds of Bedford school children being deprived of the in-person education we all value so highly.  

Relative to my statement:  “Schools can stay open perfectly safely in communities with very high COVID numbers ” new evidence was reported in yesterday’s Globe report about Massachusetts budgeting millions of dollars for SARS-CoV-2 testing in schools:  “The effort follows the lead of a handful of districts, including Watertown, Wellesley, and Salem, which have been routinely testing students and staff since the fall.  Watertown has administered more than 6,400 tests, which as of Thursday had uncovered nine positive cases among students and five among staff.  That’s very few cases in a community where the two-week positivity rate is 5.1 percent, putting the community in the red.”   This information not only supports my view that surveillance testing is the best, and probably most cost-effective, safety approach for schools to take, it highlights the now global experience that schools are not fueling the pandemic, and education of children should receive the high priority it deserves