Bedford School Officials Want In-Person Instruction Around Thanksgiving

Bedford school officials tamped down rising speculation last week that they were considering all-remote learning just prior to and the week after Thanksgiving because of concern that travel or family get-togethers could trigger spread of COVID-19.

At last week’s Board of Education meeting, Vice President Edward Reder clarified previous statements he made suggesting that the possibility of families traveling or having holiday celebrations could pose increased risk. Reder said he recognized that younger children and special education students need to have as much in-person instruction as possible.

“I think we’re always concerned but I’m not as concerned about the week after Thanksgiving or the week of Thanksgiving as I was before,” Reder said.

Comments blew up on social media that the district might consider going remote immediately preceding and following the long holiday weekend.

Board member Michael Bauscher said he believes the district’s policies and procedures are strong enough where across-the-board closures can be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

“I think our system is in place to respond to that and so I think, as I did there, taking days away from students before we have to, I don’t think we should,” Bauscher said.

The discussion occurred just as cases throughout the region and Westchester County have begun to multiply, forcing some school districts to switch to online learning for some of their students. In Bedford, Fox Lane Middle School is closed this week mainly because a rising number of teachers and staff members are under quarantine, making for insufficient staffing for in-person instruction, a letter from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joel Adelberg stated.

According to the state’s COVID-19 Report Card, which tracks positive cases of the virus among students and staff members at each school, there were 19 students throughout the district’s seven schools that had tested positive as of last Friday. At that time there was only one teacher or staff member who were positive but a significant number of teachers are quarantining because of potential exposures.

The district has afforded families the opportunity for their children to attend classes in person and also be able to go to remote learning when they would like to. However, Adelberg said there are extra challenges when students want to opt back into in-person instruction. Space and distancing needs to be arranged and it sometimes is not always feasible right away, he said.

“That’s where the number of seats, the space, the social distancing in a classroom in a school matters,” Adelberg said. “Here to back and where your assigned seat is matters. So we can’t just have students who show up who were home and now change their mind on a Tuesday and want to come back to school.”