March 22, 2020: Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

Important Updates: Reminder of Town-wide closures, and an update from the Superintendent of Schools.
3/22/2020: Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19


Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

The Bedford COVID-19 Task Force met Sunday, March 22, 2020 to review the latest guidance from the Department of Public Health (DPH), the office of Governor Charlie Baker, and Town Legal Counsel.

The COVID-19 Task Force is comprised of the following Town officials:

Sarah Stanton, Town Manager
Jon Sills, Superintendent of Schools
Heidi Porter, Director of Health and Human Services
Robert Bongiorno, Police Chief
David Grunes, Fire Chief
Taissir Alani, Facilities Director

Active Cases
As of today, March 22, 2020, there have been a total of four (4) presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the Town of Bedford, three (3) of whom have already recovered and come off of isolation and quarantine, and two (2) People Under Investigation. The Board of Health continues to do the appropriate follow-up and outreach. Many of the identified close contacts of the original 3 cases never exhibited symptoms, have completed their required quarantine period and have been released from quarantine by the Board of Health. The Town has also been informed of one (1) presumptive positive case at Hanscom Air Force Base. This individual has been in quarantine since returning from overseas, and has no close contacts that the Town of Bedford is required to follow up on.

Anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms should immediately self-quarantine, isolate from household members and contact their healthcare provider for further guidance on whether testing is warranted.

School Update
Understandably, the District has been receiving requests for more formal learning since last week. To date, BPS have been following the guidelines developed by both the Department of Education (Federal)* and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (State). The reason that the guidelines have stayed the Distrtict's hands from teaching new material, grading, etc., concerns the unequal access that many across the Commonwealth (the nation), and certainly in Bedford would experience. Whether students with disabilities, with English as a second language, with parents inexperienced with online platforms, or too busy working from home to help their children to engage, these numbers could be as high as 30% to 40%, but would be problematic even if just a handful.
 
That said, this is a fast evolving situation, and how the schools respond will evolve as well. Friday, March 20, 2020 the District distributed about 60 Chromebooks to families who need them. In anticipation of a much longer closure, BPS have begun to prepare for more structured learning, and the District is problem-solving regarding how to serve our children who will need additional support to access the curriculum. This is true of most districts that we know of, and BPS are working together and sharing resources to be better able to serve all of our students as the situation develops. Please stay tuned.
 
*Messaging from the Federal Dept. of Education began to shift last night, and superintendents are expecting to discuss this with DESE on Monday.

Town Update
As a reminder the following facilities/service providers are closed: schools, town offices, hairdressers and barbers, nail salon, massage services, body work services, gyms, health clubs, athletic facilities (including outside courts/fields), ice rinks, indoor swimming pools, yoga studios, spa-type services for cosmetic purposes that are not deemed medically necessary, private instruction classes such as, driving and tutoring schools, entertainment venues, houses of worship and town playgrounds and fields. Restaurants, if open, are delivery and take out only, and when picking up take out, people should adhere to social distancing protocols.

On Monday, March 23, 2020, the Town Social Workers and other Town personnel will be delivering food from the Food Bank to homebound, vulnerable residents. If you are a Bedford resident who is homebound due to age or disability and require food assistance, contact Council on Aging Social Worker Danika Castle at 781-275-6825 (residents 60 years of age and older) or Community Social Worker Chris Bang at 781-918-4328 (residents under age 60). For other errands, please contact Amy Mason at the Bedford Neighbor Brigade at BedfordMA@neighborbrigade.org or 781-526-5269.

General Guidance

  • Town officials continue to urge residents to deploy social distancing, and limit social gathering. Go for a socially distanced walk, order take-out, get your coffee to-go, pick up a gift certificate, and support the local business communities from a distance.
  • Public health officials strongly discourage activities that promote gathering of people, including play dates, sleepovers, parties, social visits, and other activities where closer contact is the norm.
  • The Town has stated and continues to advise that those — including municipal employees, residents, or students — who are feeling sick with fever or flu symptoms should stay home, self-quarantine, not report to work or school, and contact their medical provider to determine if they should be tested for COVID-19.
  • For previous updates on COVID-19, please review the COVID-19 News and Announcements Page at on the Town website (www.bedfordma.gov).

It is important to remember that while the COVID-19 outbreak is evolving quickly, influenza is currently circulating in the area. Many of the things you do to help prevent colds and the flu can help protect you against other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean things that are frequently touched (like doorknobs and countertops) with household cleaning spray or wipes.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or your inner elbow, not your hands.
  • Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Employ social distancing if you are not otherwise required to be in quarantine and must go out.

The best source of guidance and recommendations is the DPH website: www.mass.gov/covid19

Or, if you are without internet capabilities, please call the State hotline: 2-1-1

You can also the Town of Bedford website for local updates and actions: www.bedfordma.gov

Town and School officials, and the Bedford Health Department, remain in continuous communication about this issue, and further updates will be provided to the community as we receive them.