Superintendent’s Update ~ Positive COVID Test at BHS ~ October 26, 2020

October 26, 2020: Update Summary

* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at BHS (Case #13) has been identified
* Close contacts of Case #13 have been identified by contact tracers, and are being instructed to quarantine
* There are currently seventeen (17) quarantined close contacts of the BHS COVID-19 positive cases identified to date
* As of today, there are five (5) active COVID-19 positive cases in the BHS Community, and eight (8) cases have recovered

Today, I was informed by the Bedford Board of Health of the 13th Case of COVID-19 within the Bedford High School (BHS) Community since the start of school in mid-September. Case #13 is now in isolation at home. Investigations revealed that the case was present in school during their infectious period. Close contacts were identified and instructed to quarantine for fourteen (14) days after the last exposure to Case #13.

Letter to the Editor: Keep Bedford Schools Safe – Another Open Letter to the Bedford School Committee and Superintendent Conrad

This letter is in response to the earlier Letter to the Editor from the Bring Bedford Back Safely group advocating for “a plan to maximize in-person learning, with an ultimate goal to resume full-time in-person learning as soon as possible.”  While we also wish we could resume full-time in-person learning, and sympathize with the struggles these families are having, we want to add to the conversation by voicing different opinions on priorities and timing.  We also want to recognize that we all have voiced a common goal of safety and are in agreement that is number one. 

The safety of our children, teachers, and families is our top priority. We too value in-person learning, but we would only be in favor of in-person learning models that maintain appropriate safety measures. Specifically, safety measures must include student and teacher spacing of 6 feet or more until the scientists at the CDC say social distancing with people outside your household is no longer necessary. We feel that the current hybrid model is working for many students, although we recognize it is not working for all. The hybrid model is providing vitally important in-person learning with appropriate safety measures. COVID-19 infections are currently increasing in our area, and the safety measures we have in place at our schools are critical. Any movement to increase the amount of in-person learning at the Bedford Public Schools must maintain the 6-foot spacing or many of us will feel forced to switch to all-remote, which is not what we want for our children.

During the initial exploration of full-time in-person learning over the summer, the schools determined that that model was not possible while maintaining 6-foot spacing between students and teachers. In the letter written by the Bring Bedford Back Safely group, they ask for full-time in-person learning but do not address how they propose to overcome this obstacle. We want to request that if the school district explores possibilities for full-time in-person learning, they maintain the 6-foot spacing between students and teachers, as we all have a common goal of keeping our students and teachers safe.

Posto to Host Pop-up Restaurant Featuring The Painted Burro

Tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, and a tequila bar from The Painted Burro will complement the antipasti, insalate, and Neapolitan wood-fired pizza at Posto in the Bedford Marketplace, 158 The Great Road, beginning on Monday, October 26. Both are members of the Alpine Restaurant Group.

The pop-up will be open October 26 through November 2, with a celebration of Dia de los Muertos from October 31  through November 2.

Planning Begins for Fiscal Year 2022

As town officials begin planning for next fiscal year’s municipal budget, much of the financial landscape is hazy.

Town Finance Director Victor Garofalo and the Finance Committee last week reviewed the initial financial model for fiscal year 2022, spotlighting specific projections as well as some question marks.

Local Receipts Decline During Pandemic

If you want to see a snapshot of the pandemic’s impact on everyday life, compare categories of local receipts between the first quarter of fiscal year 2020 and the same period this year, which ended on September 30.

Victor Garofalo, the town’s director of finance, reviewed some of those comparisons with the Finance Committee last week as part of their discussion on fiscal 2022 budget prospects.

The 2020 Presidential Election is Underway in Bedford

By mid-week, almost 39% of Bedford’s 10,000+ registered voters cast their ballots in the November 3 election. Of the 5,431 ballots mailed to Bedford residents, 3,116 were returned and 916 people took advantage of early voting. Click this link for early voting hours through Friday, October 30.

In addition to candidates for president, voters will choose Massachusetts’ next senator, our congressman, state senator, state representative, councillor, register of probate, and decide four ballot questions.

State Representative Ken Gordon and Rabbi Susan Abramson shared their video about the importance of voting.

Community Voices @ The Bedford Citizen: Reflections on an Executive Order

On September 22, 2020 President Trump issued Executive Order 13950 titled “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.”  This Executive Order followed a previous communication to all executive departments and agencies that: “It has come to the President’s attention that Executive Branch Agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date “training” government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda.”  According to the memo, “…employees from across the Executive Branch have been required to attend trainings where they are told that “virtually all White people contribute to racism or where they are required to say that they “benefit from racism.”  It appears that the Executive Order is targeting any training that suggests white privilege and unconscious racial bias are legitimate concepts that can be used to teach sensitivity about differences that may exist between one’s own and another’s experience and point of view.

Performing Arts in the Bedford Schools ~ Music and Drama in the Time of Pandemic

Performing arts teachers in the Bedford schools are relying on energy, creativity, and technology to build a meaningful academic year despite debilitating virus-imposed restrictions.

And there’s another key ingredient: collegiality.

“The Performing Arts Department works really well together and enjoys collaboration. We are very supportive of one another regularly checking in and offering moral support,” said Nicole O’Toole, program director for kindergarten through high school.

Superintendent’s Update ~ Positive COVID Test at BHS ~ October 23, 2020

3 New positive COVID-19 cases at BHS – 9 Pending Cases – Close Contacts being Notified New and recent cases related to gatherings outside of the school environment

Sadly, we were informed today that a number of school community members (i.e., student or staff) at Bedford High School have been diagnosed with confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is of course very disappointing news. We have learned that there have been multiple gatherings that have occurred outside of the high school but have involved Bedford High School students and families.

These cases involve gatherings where safety precautions were not taken by both adults and students to protect against the spread of COVID. Since October 1, 2020 there have been 9 COVID-19 positive cases at the high school among students. Of those cases, 4 have become positive since October 21, 2020. Since contract tracing is still being conducted, there may be more pending positive cases or close contacts identified that result from the gatherings. Currently, 15 high school students are under quarantine.

Upon receipt of the positive reports, the Bedford school health personnel in collaboration with the Bedford Board of Health immediately began case investigations. The first step in a school case investigation is to determine whether or not the positive case attended school during the infectious period. According to MA Department of Public Health (MDPH) guidelines, the infectious period for COVID-19 is two days prior to becoming symptomatic or, if asymptomatic, two days prior to testing.

The investigation to date has revealed that these COVID-19 positive school community members may have been present at Bedford High School during their infectious period, and close contacts are being identified among the school community in this situation. All close contacts will be identified and instructed to quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive, regardless of a test result. We will continue to monitor this situation over the weekend and decide if the number of positive cases and close contacts requires Bedford High School to move to an ALL REMOTE model for the 14-day quarantine period.

The Board of Health is currently awaiting receipt of COVID-19 testing results for numerous close contacts of the aforementioned individuals. This data will enable us to determine how widespread the situation is at this time. Based on the analytical results of these pending tests, I am letting you know that it is very possible that we may need to close Bedford High School and transition from the Hybrid Model to the Full Remote Model. I will make this decision in collaboration with the Health and Human Services Director, Town Manager, and the Bedford School Committee and will communicate to the community Sunday, October 25, 2020

If this were to happen, BHS would be closed from Monday, October 26, 2020, and reopen on Monday, November 9, 2020.

Superintendent Conrad’s Friday Update – October 23, 2020

Thank you to everyone for all of your hard work and your tireless efforts on behalf of our students! We all recognize that our success is due to the hours and hours of preparation and learning that our teachers, parents, administrators, and other school staff are spending preparing for students in person and in the hybrid model.

Our teachers are learning to instruct and instructing our students through technology simultaneously. An amazing feat when you think about the fact that they have done this in less than a year. Our families are creating positive learning environments at home too. This is without a doubt a Herculean task and I am so grateful to all of you for your efforts.

Thank you to our parents who continue to collaborate with all of us to do what is best for students. Our community efforts are inspiring. In these unprecedented times, our community has risen to the challenge. For that I am grateful.

Town of Bedford ~ Update on Covid-19 ~ Friday, 23 October 2020

In addition to the current case counts, this week’s full update includes information on Stop Gatherings without Precautions; CDC Updates its Definition of Close Contacts; Some Reasons why a Bedford School Community Member (SCM) might have No Close Contacts in the Schools; and Operation of Indoor Ice Rinks and Indoor Ice Skating and Hockey Facilities – Temporary Ban

Click this link to read the Town’s full update for Friday, October 23, 2020

Bedford Statistics on Mass.Gov’s Covid Map ~ October 22, 2020

Mass.Gov updates the Commonwealth’s community-level coronavirus data every Thursday and displays it for each town on a map of the state.

On the October 22 map, Bedford appears as a “yellow” or “moderate risk” community

Bedford Rotarians at Work, Removing Invasive Vines at 9/11 Memorial

A minor transformation is underway at Bedford’s Rotary September 11 Memorial Park, and you are invited to visit and enjoy the results!

The Rotary 9/11 Memorial Park, created as a place of remembrance and reflection, was initiated by the Rotary Club of Bedford following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The park is located at Springs Brook Park, on the right, just beyond the entrance gate, and is open to the public year-round.

OpEd: Write-in Candidate for State Senate, Peter G. Hill

Senator Michael Barrett is running unopposed for State Senate here in Massachusetts.  I am asking voters to write in my name Peter G. Hill for State Senate.  One asks why I would ask you to do this.

Letter to the Editor: An Open Letter to the Bedford School Committee and Superintendent Conrad

Thank you to the teachers, administration, committee members, and volunteers for the hard work and many hours it’s taken to develop our reopening plans and safely enable some form of in-person learning this fall. This letter’s intent is to share the dialogue that many concerned parents have had privately with various members of the school administration, School Committee members, and Town staff. There is a growing group of Bedford School District parents (the Facebook group Bring Bedford Back Safely currently has almost 70 members) who find remote instruction unworkable despite everyone’s best efforts. We are asking the collective decision makers in Bedford to prioritize the development of a data-driven, metrics-based plan to safely enable a return to full in-person learning. 

Superintendent’s Update ~ Positive COVID Test at BHS ~ October 21, 2020

I was informed today that a school community member (i.e., student or staff) at Bedford High School has been diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

One New COVID-19 Positive Case at BHS (9th case) – One case still pending Close Contacts Identified – Cases not connected to previous BHS positive cases No in-school transmission identified with positive cases to date