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.

Fawn Lake Update – Dredging is Complete, Work to Begin on New Dam

As of Friday, October 16, the Dredgit crew completed the dredging operation at Fawn Lake, and removed the dewatering equipment.

The materials storage bin has been dismantled and the lawn area will be regraded, leaving a level area for a nice overlook to the lake. A total of 8,076 cubic yards of bottom sediment and 350 cubic yards of floating/submerged aquatic vegetation were removed from the site. In addition to complying with all the environmental conditions, Dredgit is also proud to report 3,060 accident-free man-hours on the project.

Short Takes from the Bedford Free Public Library – October 2020

The Library’s “Grab and Go” book pickup initiative has been a great success since it was launched on June 23.  But what happens to curbside pickup when the cold and snowy weather descends?

Library Director Richard Callaghan and Assistant Director Noreen O’Gara have come up with the answer, which they are calling “Curbside/Inside.”  

Bedford’s New Conservation Administrator ~ Rachel Kelly

Bedford’s new conservation administrator says she is passionate about the natural environment and is excited about the prospects of interacting with the public.

Rachel Kelly of Melrose began her duties in Town Hall’s code enforcement suite early this month.

Kelly succeeds Elizabeth Bagdonas, who retired seven months ago after almost 30 years in the position. Kelly’s first meeting with the Conservation Commission is scheduled for Oct. 21.

Additional DPW Recycling Events Scheduled for October 17 and October 24

The Department of Public Works is planning two collection events on Saturday, October 17 and Saturday, October 24. Each event will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Compost Center on 108 Carlisle Road.

Both events are open to Bedford residents only. Proof of residency is required.

On Saturday, October 17, Bedford residents will have the opportunity to get rid of electronic waste and debris homeowners have generated from household projects. Also, Habitat for Humanity will accept hardwood furniture and other household items that day.

The following week,  on  Saturday, October 24, residents may bring scrap metal, rigid plastics, tires, propane tanks, and expired fire extinguishers for recycling.

Responding to Positive Cases of COVID-19 and Contact Tracing – FAQ October 6, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 and their Response to Positive Cases and Contact Tracing.

Will the names of positive COVID-19 cases in the school community be released?
No

Will personal health information be released on COVID-19 positive cases?
No.

Will the identification of individual classrooms occupied by positive cases be released?
At this time, no.

If it is determined that my child is not a close contact, will I be informed that a child/teacher in my child’s class has tested positive?
At this time, no.

How will I know if there is a case of COVID-19 in my child’s classroom/school?
The school nurses strive to monitor illness and potential COVID-19 cases as well as identify any possible positive cases in the school community. Recognizing the importance of protecting confidentiality and following the MA DPH guidelines for close contact management, at this time you will be only notified if your child is considered a close contact.

If my child is diagnosed with COVID-19, will his/her/their privacy be maintained?
Your child’s name will not be revealed if diagnosed with COVID-19. Close contacts will be notified and told that they have been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and will be provided with information about quarantine and given further instructions. No personal identification will be given to others.

And So It Begins: Town Clerk Bridget Rodrigue Mails First Batch of Ballots to Bedford Voters

With roughly 5,000 of Bedford’s 10,536 registered voters requesting vote-by-mail ballots for the November 3 election, Town Clerk Bridget Rodrique is clearly heading into her office’s busiest season.

In a recent interview, Rodrigue seemed unfazed, noting that she loves being busy; has an experienced and supportive staff; and has a well-developed plan in place. In addition, the Town Clerk’s office has been reconfigured for efficiency and security to support preparing and mailing ballots, then storing them safely until they are counted on Election Day.

Bedford’s ballots were expected to be received by October 9, but they arrived last Friday, and a complex process is underway.

Pre-Election Calendar

Bedford is One of Six Recipients of MAPC’s Racial Equity Municipal Action Plan Grant

Bedford will soon embark on a year-long process to plan and implement a racial equity action plan for municipal and school employees, at no cost to the town.

The program, awarded competitively, is called REMAP, an acronym for the Racial Equity Municipal Action Plan. It is sponsored by a collaboration among three government entities: the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Funding for the consultants involved will be covered as a technical assistance grant. The six recipients were announced this week.

The first four months will focus on “tailored” training, reflection, and self-assessment. Beginning in February, the town will turn to developing a starting to implement a racial equity municipal action plan.

“It is going to be wonderful to have such valuable consulting that we would not normally be able to get,” stated Town Manager Sarah A. Stanton, who said she will be the point person for execution and implementation.

She said the process will focus on “working with staff and some elected officials to put together policy initiatives.” The agenda includes examining current guidelines and procedures and creating an action plan for the next steps.

DPW Announces Compost Center’s Autumn Schedule

Editor’s Note: A robocall to the town on Tuesday, September 29, noted that the Compost Center will be closed on Wednesday, September 30, due to heavy rains in the weather forecast.

The Department of Public Works has announced the fall schedule for the Compost Center.

Click to view the full-size image

Starting October 7, the Compost Center, located at 108 Carlisle Road, will be open every Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., except for Veteran’s Day (November 11) and the day before Thanksgiving (November 25).

The Compost Center will also be open on Saturday, October 10, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then starting on Saturday, October 24, the center will be open every Saturday through December 5. Normal hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., but during November the hours will be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m

The schedule is available at www.bedfordma.gov/recycling under the Calendar tab.

Pursuant to the Town’s EPA Stormwater Permit, the DPW urges residents to properly dispose of leaves and yard waste and to not dump leaves in wetlands or waterways. Also, residents are asked to keep storm drains clear of leaf litter and pine needles. Fallen leaves are loaded with natural fertilizer and are a source of stormwater pollution.

Per state regulations, yard waste is prohibited from regular trash. Residents may either compost yard waste on their own property or bring the yard waste to the Compost Center where it will be turned into loam products for Public Works projects.

Acceptable yard waste consists of leaves, pine needles, grass clippings, garden trimmings, weeds, and tree material up to one inch (1”) in diameter. Tree limbs more than one inch (1”) in diameter can be placed in the brush pile. Only paper biodegradable bags, available at a variety of stores, are allowed to be dropped off. Residents should empty plastic trash bags or containers of yard waste and bring them home for reuse.

Compost bins are available for $45 from the DPW at 314 Great Road. Contact Ed McGrath, Bedford’s Recycling Coordinator, at emcgrath@bedfordma.gov.

Shared Streets Grant to Promote Public Health, Safe Mobility, and Renewed Commerce

Over the summer, the Town of Bedford was awarded $62,666 in Shared Streets grant funding from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to support projects that promote public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted some existing needs and has created new ones, and these projects are intended to maximize opportunities for residents and visitors alike to take advantage of our Town resources including enhanced outdoor dining and other commercial, recreational, biking, and pedestrian facilities while supporting the recovery efforts of local businesses.

This update describes the changes that have been made possible by this grant, in collaboration with several Town Departments, committees, and business partners.

Saturday’s Walk-in Flu Clinic

According to Health Director Heidi Porter, 335 Bedford residents received flu vaccine during Saturday’s Walk-In Clinic.

With plenty of parking and pre-set appointments, there never seemed to be a crowd but rather a steady flow of senior citizens, adults, and young people arriving between 9 am and noon.

Porter thanked Bedford’s CERT team and the cadre of volunteer nurses who rounded out Saturday’s staff.

Municipal Affordable Housing Trust

Bedford renters who have been financially affected by Covid-19, including loss of employment, may now apply for emergency rental assistance grants, to maintain housing stability over the next four months.

The program was approved by the Municipal Affordable Housing Trust at a recent meeting, after consultation with the Select Board. The trust has its own resources, separate from the municipal budget. The first round of payments was capped at a total of $40,000.

DPW Autumn Recycling Events at 108 Carlisle Road

The Department of Public Works is providing Bedford residents the opportunity to recycle or reuse a myriad of materials on two Saturdays, October 3 and 10. Both events are open to Bedford residents only and will take place from 9 am to 12 noon at the Compost Center at 108 Carlisle Road.

Hydrant Flushing ~ September 29 to October 9

The Bedford Water Division will be flushing hydrants to ensure clean, clear water throughout the distribution system.  The work will be done on weekdays between 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM from September 29 to October 9.  Signs will be set out the day before flushing in each specific area of Town.

Short Takes from the Bedford Free Public Library ~ September, 2020

Although there is still no timeline for the reopening – either partial or full – of the Bedford Free Public Library, curbside pickup of requested books continues to provide highly-valued service to patrons.

Assistant Library Director Noreen O’Gara reported these statistics for the month of August to the Trustees at their September 8 meeting: 6,000 check-outs filled through ‘Hold’ requests; 90 curbside pickup slots/per day; and books delivered to 1,900 unique patrons received books.

National Register to Vote Day ~ Tuesday, September 22

If you’re not already registered to vote in the Presidential Election on November 3, National Register to Vote Day, September 22, is a good time to check your voter registration or add your name to the voter rolls so that you can cast your ballot.

Newest Bedford Free Public Library ‘StoryWalk’ is ‘We March’

Next time you’re in Bedford center, come take a walk around the library!

Our latest StoryWalk® follows Shane W. Evans’ beautiful picture book We March. It tells the story of the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered this iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on August 28, 1963.

It is a book that can be appreciated by readers of all ages, and we are happy to bring this StoryWalk® to you with support from the Friends of the Library.