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.

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

School Committee Explores Ways to Bring More Elementary School Students Back to In-Person Learning

Jan. 5, 2021—School Committee members Tuesday continued to push for exploring ways to bring more elementary school children back to in-person learning during the current academic year.

Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad agreed to prepare one or more scenarios for restoring full-time, in-person school for at least the youngest learners. He expects to present to the School Committee later this month.

The impetus was provided by the newest member of the committee, Brad Morrison, who asserted, “I believe we have time to make three or four more moves toward a phased return between now and the end of the year. I don’t think we can stop now.”

School Committee Considers Three Budget Scenarios for Fiscal 2022

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” was a landmark Western film released in 1966. (And, yes, there’s always a Bedford connection – the familiar theme from the film was adopted as a theme song by the powerhouse BHS football teams of the 1970s.)

Fast-forward to Tuesday evening’s meeting of the School Committee: Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad presented details of three versions of a fiscal 2022 budget, as requested earlier by the committee.

The first one—“the good”—is based on a return to pre-pandemic conditions. The budget reflects a 3.75 percent increase over the current year. Then there’s a “Covid recovery” budget—“the bad.” The increase is 7.1 percent. And “the ugly”—representing all students in school and all current safety protocols—presents an increase of 11.8 percent. The Finance Committee has approved a 3.5 percent increase guideline for school and town budgets.

Superintendent’s Update ~ Friday, January 8, 2021

I had hoped to open my first letter of 2021 with lighthearted remarks about the end of 2020 and our looking forward to ushering in the new year.  However, the events of Wednesday evening in Washington D.C. changed the trajectory of my message.  Like so many Americans, I was overcome with sadness for our country. The events in Washington DC were difficult to watch and impossible to believe. My thoughts immediately turned to our teachers and administrators who would be greeting our students on Thursday morning.  I sent them a quick message thanking them in advance for the courageous conversations to come. I was grateful that each principal worked with their faculty to provide a moment of reflection and community building. The principals and other colleagues also offered age-appropriate resources to help guide those important classroom conversations. This thoughtful approach is so important to our students and families and I am grateful to our faculty and staff for everything that they have been called on to do and the grace with which they do it.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases ~ 1 at BHS & 1 at JGMS~ January 8, 2021

January 8, 2021

* One (1) new COVID-19  positive case at Bedford High School  (BHS case #33) and one (1) new case at (JGMS case #6) have been identified.
* BHS Case #33 and JGMS case #6 were both determined to have no in-school contacts.
* There are currently six (6)  active COVID-19 positive cases in the BHS Community  and two (2) active COVID-19 positive cases in the JGMS community at this time.

Superintendent’s Update ~ 1 New Positive Covid Case at BHS ~ January 7, 2021

January 7, 2021

* One (1)  new COVID-19  positive case at Bedford High School  (BHS case #32)
* Close contacts within the Bedford School Community have been identified and have been instructed to quarantine   
* There are currently six (6) active COVID-19 positive cases in the BHS Community at this time.  

Superintendent’s Update ~ 4 New Positive Covid Cases at BHS ~ January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021
* Four (4) new COVID-19  positive cases at Bedford High School  (BHS cases # 28, 29, 30, & 31)
* Each of these new cases were determined to have no in-school contacts.  
* There are currently five (5) active COVID-19 positive cases in the BHS Community at this time. 

School Committee Reviews Interscholastic Winter Sports

“Athletics play such an important role in keeping our students engaged…. The big ‘pro’ here is that we are participating.”

That was the framework for a briefing on high school winter interscholastic sports delivered to the School Committee Tuesday by Keith Mangan, the schools’ director of athletics.

Mangan reviewed the policies and practices adopted by the 11 Dual County League schools and cited some of the modifications in individual sports designed to minimize the threat of spreading the coronavirus, as promulgated through the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.

The abbreviated winter season ends on Feb. 20, ending with a cushion of a few days for weather-related postponements. Active winter sports will be Alpine skiing, basketball, boys’ hockey, rifle, and swim and dive.

Superintendent’s Update ~ 10 Positive Covid Cases Reported During Winter Break ~ January 5, 2021

Covid cases reported during Winter Break

* Davis School –  one (1) new COVID-19 positive case was identified over break (DS case #9) and was determined to have no in-school contacts.
* Lane School –  four (4) new COVID-19 positive cases were identified over break (LS cases # 7, 8, 9 & 10) and were determined to have no in-school contacts.
* John Glenn Middle School – one (1) new COVID-19 positive case was identified over break (JGMS case # 5) and was determined to have no in school contacts.
* Bedford High School – four (4) new COVID-19 positive cases reported over break (BHS cases #24, 25, 26, & 27) and were determined to have no in-school contacts.

There are currently seven (7) active COVID-19 positive cases in the Bedford Public School Community at this time.  One (1) at Davis School, four (4) at Lane School, one (1) at JGMS, and two (2) at Bedford High School.

Board of Health to Continue Important Discussions in its January 4 Meeting

The Bedford Board of Health on Monday, Jan.4 will continue its discussion of social distancing and criteria for school closings and classroom quarantining in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The virtual meeting, which begins at 7 pm on Zoom, will spotlight a topic launched by member Dr. Ann Kiessling at the last board meeting Dec. 21. The agenda allows for a possible vote.

Kiessling maintains that the key to successful management of the virus is testing, especially as the only way to identify and isolate asymptomatic people.

Complicating her presentation was a 3-1-1 vote by the Board of Health earlier in the meeting calling for an opinion from the state Ethics Commission on possible conflict of interest. Kiessling is director of Bedford Research Foundation, which has been testing for Covid-19 since responding to a federal plea to private laboratories several months ago. (As of Thursday afternoon, it could not be confirmed that the request has been filed with the Commission.)

School Committee Hears a Trio of Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Proposals

Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad presented three versions of a fiscal 2022 education budget to the School Committee last Tuesday night.

One of the proposals, which presumes a return to a normal school format, is $43,606,93, representing a 3.75 percent increase over the current year. The Finance Committee guideline for the school and municipal budget is 3.5 percent.

The two other iterations, both of which assume continuing some or all of the current pandemic safety protocols, are nowhere near the guideline. Indeed, he called one of them the “apocalyptic budget.”