School Committee Hears Cost to Return Elementary Students to School Full Time ~ Public Hearing on Budget Set for Feb. 2

School Committee Hears Cost to Return Elementary Students to School Full Time; Public Hearing on Budget Set for Feb. 2

Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad told the School Committee Tuesday that elementary school students could return en masse to their classrooms sometime in March for a cost of around $150,000. A decision is likely at the Feb. 23 School Committee meeting.

Conrad also noted that the principals of the middle and high school are evaluating how to integrate struggling students into classroom seats that are currently empty.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases: 1 at Davis and 1 at Lane ~ January 27, 2021

January 27, 2021

* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at Davis School  (DS Case #17) no close contacts.
* One (1) new COVID-19 case at Lane School (LS Case #13) no close contacts.
* There is currently one (1) active COVID-19 positive case in the DS community and  2 (two) active cases in the LS community.
* These cases do not appear to be connected or related to previous cases identified in school.

The Climate Bill ~ A Bold Plan for Massachusetts and for Bedford

Mothers Out Front is excited about the climate bill recently refiled by Senate President Spilka and Speaker of the House Mariano.  S.9, “An act creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy” is the same bill that was passed in early January, after intense negotiations by the Climate Policy Conference Committee, co-chaired by our own Senator Mike Barrett.  He talked extensively about this bill at an online event last Sunday, sponsored by Metro West Climate Solutions and First Parish of Weston. 

This landmark bill, the strongest climate legislation passed in at least a decade, includes many great initiatives to move our Commonwealth towards a sustainable future with a swift, complete, and just transition away from fossil fuels and their climate-disrupting carbon emissions.  I use those three words because they embody the mission of Mothers Out Front.

Potential Candidates Stand for Bedford’s 2021 Town Election

With seats on several boards without candidates last week, as of Wednesday, Jan. 27, each contest has at least one candidate except the Board of Assessors. (Click this link to learn more about Ron Cordes’s thoughts about serving as an Assessor)

With thanks to the Town Clerk’s office for the list of residents who have visited the Town Clerk’s office to sign a statement of intent and collect a candidate packet that includes nomination papers.

Candidate packets are available through the Town Clerk’s office until 5 pm on Wednesday, February 5, and must be returned for verification of signatures by noon on Friday, February 8.

February 5 and must be returned for verification of signatures by noon on Friday, February 8.

What Does a Town Assessor Do?

The elected Board of Assessors is composed of three townspeople, each elected for a three-year term. Elected Assessors must pass a training course provided by the state Department of Revenue which teaches, among other things, the state-approved methods for assessing the value of all real and personal property in the Town. From this, you may correctly infer that Assessors are not allowed to use whatever methods they want in assessing property. They are required, both under the order of the State Supreme Judicial Court and Massachusetts General Law, to follow the procedures approved by the Department of Revenue.
 
Assessors perform two separate and distinct functions.

Letter to the Editor: Supporting Maureen Richichi for Board of Health

I was very pleased to read that my friend, Maureen Richichi, announced her candidacy to be a member of the Bedford Board of Health recently in the Bedford Citizen.

Over the last 30 years or so, our families have shared many dinners, holidays, camping trips, bike outings, and one special book club.  But the first time I met Maureen was when she (and Ronnie Gould) spearheaded the community building of a new playground, initially the Tot Lot and now the Center Playground. Many families were involved in all stages of construction. So many have fond memories of how it truly does take a village to build something we can all be proud of.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases: 2 at BHS ~ January 26, 2021

January 26, 2021

* Two (2) new COVID-19 positive case at Bedford High School  (BHS Case #40 & Case #41) close contacts have been identified with one of the cases.
* There are currently three (3) active COVID-19 positive cases in the BHS community.
* These cases do not appear to be connected or related to previous cases identified in school.

Become a Candidate for Regional School Committee and Assure a Full Range of Opportunities for Bedford Students

When we moved to Bedford in 1975, I did not understand what Regional School Committee was.  As my children advanced through the Bedford schools, I learned that it was Bedford’s version of the “voke ed” that I grew up with.  But at that time, it meant automotive shop, for boys only.  However, things have changed dramatically.

I have always had an interest in vocational education with the belief that every student should find a school community that fits his/her needs and interests and also that some students are not on track for college. Neither of my children expressed any desire to leave Bedford’s schools and my exposure ended then.  However, when a position became vacant on the Regional School Committee, I made inquiries and learned a lot fast.

Caution: Thin Ice ~ A Rescue at Fawn Lake

Fire Chief David Grunes on Tuesday, advised residents to “stay off all ice” outdoors.

“Temperatures have been above average through this point in the winter,” he pointed out. “Adding to the hazards, some of our ponds are fed by underground springs that keep the water moving and impact the depth of the ice.”

The chief’s reminder comes a couple of days after a resident rescued a youngster who had fallen through thin ice on Fawn Lake during a pickup hockey game on the Springs Road edge of the lake.

Dan Walsh, who was skating nearby, said he heard the boy’s friends yelling. “He was struggling and couldn’t touch the bottom,” Walsh related. “I told them to all get back and I got on my belly and extended a hockey stick to him. He grabbed the blade and I pulled him. He was soaked right up to his neck.”

Introducing The Citizen’s Editorial Intern Jared Graf

The Bedford Citizen’s new editorial intern traces his interest in news writing to a high school English teacher.

Jared Graf is a senior at Framingham State University, where his major is English with a concentration in journalism. He will be handling a broad range of assignments for The Citizen until mid-June.

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.

Become a Candidate for Planning Board and Help to Define Bedford’s Built Environment

If you have ideas or concerns about key issues such as multi-unit housing, accessory dwelling units, commercial, industrial, and residential development, zoning bylaws, even changes to scenic roads-to mention only a few-please consider standing for election to the Planning Board, one of Bedford’s most influential elected bodies.

Current Planning Board member Jeff Cohen is not running again and there are, at this moment, no candidates who have come forward to request nomination papers. Whether you are a long-time resident or a relative newcomer to town, this may be the moment to step up and help shape the future look of Bedford. This is a three-year term. You will join elected members Jacinda Barbehenn, Steven Hagan, Shawn Hanegan, and Amy Lloyd. Professional staff includes Tony Fields, Director, Catherine Perry, Assistant Director, and Admin Cathy Silvestrone who provide support and guidance.

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.

Assisted Living Overlay District Proposed

The Planning Board on Jan. 12 reviewed and revised the proposed zoning bylaw amendment for assisted living facilities, in response to a proposal by LCB Senior Living on South Road near Evergreen Avenue.

The suggestions from this meeting will be used to create a new draft that will be presented and discussed in a public hearing at the board’s next meeting on Jan. 26.

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.”

Have You Checked Your Mailbox?

By today—Jan. 22—an important legal document should have landed in your mailbox and you have 10 days to complete it and return it to the Town Clerk.

Bedford’s Annual Street Listing/Census 2021 is a brief, four-question form but it carries a lot of weight. It is a state requirement that you complete the form; compliance provides proof of residence, protection of voting rights, veteran’s bonus, housing for the elderly, and related benefits.

And dog-owners, don’t forget that if you have acquired a Hunter or a Peaches or a Dodge in the past year, the Town also needs to know that bit of information.

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.

Life Sciences and the Move to the Suburbs ~ Part II ~ Ultragenyx Builds in Bedford

Bedford local government’s welcoming approach was a big part of the reason why Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical decided to locate a major operation in the town.

Gil Stevens, senior director of capital projects for the 10-year-old California-based firm, told a virtual meeting sponsored by the Middlesex 3 collaborative that “the responsiveness has been absolutely stellar.” Stevens was a guest panelist on a virtual program entitled “Life Sciences and the Move to the Suburbs.”

“Not all communities are like that. We had a number of towns that just not did even respond,” Stevens continued. “The folks in Bedford were just phenomenal — Sarah (Town Manager Sarah Stanton) and Alyssa (Economic Development Director Alyssa Sandoval) coming out to discuss the town’s capabilities.”