As always, Superintendent Conrad includes a plethora of information in his weekly newsletter.
Saturday, May 1, 2021, begins Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Week. In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Week; it was expanded to a month in 1992. The month was chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869. For more information about the contributions of Asian/Pacific Islander Americans please navigate to Asian American and Pacific Islander Month 2021
Orthodox Easter Sunday, May 2, 2021
Happy Easter to all of our community members who will be celebrating Orthodox Easter on Sunday, May 2, 2021. Orthodox Easter falls this Sunday due to the Orthodox faith’s use of the Julian Calendar. For more information about the traditions of Orthodox Easter please go to https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/48067272
John Glenn Middle School
As was announced at the School Committee meeting on Tuesday evening JGMS Principal Kevin Tracey has announced that he has accepted the position of Principal of Reading Memorial High School in Reading Massachusetts. Mr. Tracey who has been in the Bedford Public Schools since 2006 and the Principal of JGMS since 2012 will be sorely missed. While we are excited for Mr. Tracey we are acutely aware of the task ahead of us to search for a new principal to lead JGMS. Early next week the JGMS community will be asked for their thoughts on the most important qualities for the new principal. We will also be asking for volunteers to serve on the search committee.
The Commissioner announced earlier this week that the manner in which a close contact is treated will be changing. Moving forward, anyone identified as a close contact in school for a masked but non-vaccinated individual will be treated as such.
All individuals (masked but not vaccinated) within six (6) feet will be considered a close contact BUT if you are from three (3) feet to six (6) feet (masked but not vaccinated) you will be notified by a contact tracer and the recommendation will be that you be tested. However, you will not need to quarantine. If you are within three (3) feet (masked but not vaccinated) you will be notified and required to quarantine. For more information see the MA DESE COVID Site.
The Commissioner also announced that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education had approved his Competency Determination and Certificate of Attainment requirements for the Class of 2022.
Reminder that all individuals in Massachusetts who are 16 years of age and older can be vaccinated https://www.mass.gov/info-details/preregister-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-appointment
Safe Routes to School Day is Friday, May 5, 2021
Safe Routes to School is a program celebrated throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on the first Wednesday in May each year to encourage students and families to walk, bike, and roll to school. For more information navigate to MA Safe Routes to School 2021.
BEF (Bedford Education Foundation)
The BEF will be hosting their Virtual Bedford Themed Bingo Night on Saturday, May 1st, 7:00 pm. Register on the BEF’s website at: https://bedfordeducation.org/donate.
TRI-TOWN Mental Health Collaboration
The Boards of Health of Concord, Bedford and Carlisle, in collaboration with the Bedford Public Schools Counseling Department and Center for Parents and Teachers, offer a free parent education program and a faculty professional development program presented by nationally renowned author and therapist Lynn Lyons, LICSW.
Parents & Caregivers: “Now What? Helping Families Manage Emotionally During Uncertain Times” Children and teens were struggling with increasing rates of anxiety and depression prior to 2020, and this past year didn’t help! Parents and caregivers need strategies to help children (and themselves!) manage the uncertainty of our current environment as we recover and move forward. This presentation describes the skills needed for emotional management including how to increase flexibility, tolerate uncertainty, communicate effectively and replace catastrophic thinking with problem-solving.
There are sessions for
- Parents and Caregivers of PreK – Grade 8 Students Monday, May 3, 7:00 to 8:15 PM. Register here: Parents & Caregivers: Now What? K-8 Seminar
- PreK through Grade 8 Faculty: Monday, May 3, 3:30 to 5:30 PM online Offered to faculty of PreK, Elementary and Middle Schools from the towns of Bedford, Concord, and Carlisle. Please pre-register using your work email address to receive the login link: Pre K – 8 Faculty Seminar
To read more details about these programs, including full background information about our presenter at The Center for Parents and Teachers.
Pooled Testing Update
This week we tested 583 students and 65 staff. All of the pools were negative! We have applied to continue with the DESE pooled testing program through the end of the school year and we have learned this week that we have been matched with a new vendor that will supply home saliva testing kits.
Please note that we will not be doing pooled testing next week, while we transition to this new program.
Starting the week of May 10th, we will be working with Veritas Genetics. This company provides home saliva testing kits that will eliminate the need to collect nasal swab samples at school. Students will no longer need to be called out of their classrooms or lunch. The saliva samples will be pooled at the Veritas Genetics lab, and if there is a positive pool the lab can easily identify the positive case from the original saliva sample. This will eliminate the need for “reflex testing” at school and the need to quarantine in a situation where individuals of a positive pool have to have to wait for PCR testing if the rapid antigen tests were negative. We will be sending more detailed information next week on how to sign up for pooled testing with this new program. We are hopeful that this new process will increase participation in the weekly asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students.
The Town of Bedford also offers free testing on Saturdays through May 1st for Bedford residents and staff. Please navigate to: www.bedfordma.gov/testing for information and to make an appointment for a free test.
Community COVID-19 Dashboard
The Bedford Board of Health Bedford COVID-19 Dashboard contains data related to case counts, active/recovered cases, case demographics, and school case data. The majority of the data on the Dashboard will be updated Monday through Friday, with some data tables and charts updated on a weekly basis. We invite you to view the new dashboard at www.bedfordma.gov/covid-stats.
As always, thank you for your patience, your participation, and your continued commitment to our schools,