December 16, 2020
Dear BB&N Families,
It is hard to believe that we are just three days away from Winter Break. I do hope that you are able to find some peace and relaxation over the next two weeks. I cannot thank this community enough for your support over the last year, it has been truly remarkable. I know we are entering 2021 as a stronger community than we were even just a year ago, and for that I am truly grateful.
As we move into the New Year, I want to highlight a few adaptations we will be making as we prepare for the next chapter of this unprecedented school year. Our commitment since this summer has been to be flexible throughout this year and adapt when needed to better support all members of our community. It is our hope that these tweaks will set us up for success for the remainder of the school year. I am sure we will have others, especially once we get the results of the survey we sent out to our students in grades 4-12 this week. Yet, for now, some of these changes impact the school schedule, so I wanted to share them with you as soon as possible.
Our Health & Safety team has been learning a great deal about pooled testing by virtue of the two pilots that have been conducted over the past week with volunteers in Grades 10-12, along with Upper School faculty. Thank you so much to everyone who participated. The pilots are still in progress, so we look forward to updating you about this potential testing option when we return in early January.
As you saw in yesterday’s email from Tammy Calise, it is time once again to sign up for the mandatory COVID-19 re-entry testing, if your child intends to be on campus after we return from Winter break. This testing on January 3rd and 4th will be conducted at the Upper School campus, in much the same way we did it returning from Thanksgiving weekend. A reminder that Tuesday, January 5th will be a remote day for all students, as we wait for results with the LS returning in person on Wednesday and the MS and US returning in person on Thursday.
If you have not registered, click here to review Tammy’s letter, which describes the testing program and includes the link to sign up your child/ren. If you choose not to participate in the testing process we are offering, you will need to submit a negative result from a PCR test before your child can be cleared to return to campus after Winter Break.
Additional Professional Work Days
As you know, our ability to remain open these last few months is due to the extraordinary efforts of our faculty, as they have adapted to challenging conditions and taken on so many additional duties. Furthermore, as I highlighted in my last letter, teachers have needed extra time to adapt their curriculum to adjust to the realities of this year. So, in an effort to make the next six months sustainable for all of our faculty and to allow them to develop and refine the top-notch curriculum you have come to expect, we will add three professional work days to the 2021 calendar for LS and MS, and two days for US. Classes will not be held on these days so that our teachers can have much-needed time for individual work and to collaborate with colleagues. These additional professional days will be:
- Friday, January 29 (LS, MS)
- Friday, April 16 (LS, MS, US)
- Wednesday, May 19 (LS, MS US)
We chose Fridays for two of these work days to even out the impact of the upcoming Monday holidays on our hybrid schedule, and Wednesday for the other day to minimize the impact on instructional time in core academic subjects at the US.
Earlier Release at the LS on Wednesday
The stresses of this year have been particularly acute on our Lower School faculty and staff, as they have been teaching on campus full time this fall. In order to give them the necessary extra time for individual and collaborative work to support their students, we will end the Lower School day 90 minutes earlier on Wednesdays at 12:30PM. This new Wednesday LS schedule will start on February 3rd to give families some time to prepare for the shift, and will carry forward for the remainder of the school year.
In order to minimize the impact of this change on families, we will be creating a Lower School version of Knight School to provide a supportive environment for any family who would prefer to have their LS student(s) stay on campus from 12:30 to 2:00PM on Wednesdays. If you might be interested in taking advantage of this free option, please click here to indicate your interest. We will be in touch in early January with more information, but for now it would be helpful to simply gauge interest. Lunch will still be served on Wednesdays and transportation will depart the school at the 12:30PM dismissal time.
Many students have asked me what a “snow day” will look like this year. Although I am not willing to commit beyond our first one, I do feel that the first snow day of the year deserves to be a good old-fashioned one with no classes, either in person or remote. Beyond that we will adapt as needed, but for now get those gloves and hats ready to get outside and build a snowperson—and be sure to send me pictures :-).
Finally, as I highlighted in my note before Thanksgiving, please think of our community as you make decisions over the Winter Break. I stand with health experts and government officials who strongly encourage avoiding holiday travel and gatherings. Clearly we continue to be in a critical stage of this virus, and our vigilance during this time cannot be overstated. We have done such a good job as a community, and that has allowed us to stay open for our students. Let’s do everything we can to keep this trend going into the new year.
I’m so proud of the incredible way our entire community has navigated the challenges and hardships of 2020. Thank you for your continued support and here’s looking forward to the promise of 2021!
Dr. Jennifer Price
Head of School