May 5, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians:

I know this is getting tougher. I say this as a mom who is trying—mostly unsuccessfully—to balance the complex, ever-changing needs of my kids, a highly demanding job, and my own durability when the end doesn’t feel in sight. Two months in, and I for one am ready for a change!!!  

And I have teenagers. I look in awe at my sisters who are juggling the demands of younger kids. I think daily of my friends who are essential workers and have to leave home to take care of others. Plus my partner is able to be home, and mostly available, to help with the kids when I have to log onto my eighth Zoom call of the day. My family and extended family are healthy. I recognize that I am one of the fortunate ones, and yet most of the time I still feel like I’m running on empty. For those of you with younger kids, those of you who are essential workers, those of you balancing two full-time jobs, those of you whom this virus has personally impacted, I send support, admiration, and a socially distanced hug. This is not easy. 

And yet, resilience is unquestionably a defining trait of BB&N Knights. In support of that theme, I invite parents to join me and two award-winning educators, Dr. Belle Liang P’18 and Tim Klein, on Thursday, May 7, at 7:00 PM for a very timely Head’s Speaker Series session: Navigating an Uncertain Future: Applying the New Science of Purpose in School, Career & Life. Participants in this webinar will learn how to support their children in the face of adversity and also how to make meaningful decisions in a rapidly changing educational landscape—themes that have never been more relevant than they are now. Click here for more details and to register for the webinar.

I would like to thank the nearly 900 students, faculty, and parents who offered feedback in the survey we sent a week ago. A quick analysis highlights the good news that two thirds of the quantitative responses rated the remote learning experience as either positive or very positive (with an additional 28 percent being moderate). This is encouraging to hear: credit goes to every single member of our community, as you have all gone above and beyond to adapt to the new realities and challenges that pandemic-era education has ushered into our homes and lives. 

The comments and suggestions offered by students, faculty and staff members, and parents gave us insight on adjustments to consider for each campus as we look at the May horizon. In the next few days, we will all be examining this data in more depth, and will share this work with all of you. Yet, the campus directors and their teaching teams have already started to put some revisions in place:
  • The Lower School has been working on introducing community energizers for the students, via Zoom and otherwise, and they are looking into ways to offer more live sessions for B-to-2 students to participate on an optional basis. Teachers and learning specialists are also reaching out to LS students who need more support navigating their schedule. 
  • The Middle School has been introducing programming that fosters a greater sense of community and connectedness for students. These include adding group meetings along with 1-on-1 check-ins during advisory, holding drop-in Wellness Chats and Community Mindful Minis, and starting a weekly Athletics Group for student-athletes to discuss a variety of topics at BB&N and beyond.
  • Creating more opportunities for social connection has also been much on the Upper School’s mind, as they look at convening class meetings, increasing the number of virtual get-togethers for clubs and activities, and increasing the use of breakout rooms in synchronous classes. Upper School teachers and advisors have also begun connecting on a regular basis with any students who might be struggling to engage meaningfully with remote learning. 

A number of you also wondered in your survey comments about what BB&N’s plan is regarding the coming school year. You probably will not be surprised to hear that the senior leadership team and I, along with the Board of Trustees, have already begun discussing the various scenarios that could come into play for Fall 2020, and the preparation strategies for each. Of course, many crucial factors that will influence our ultimate decision remain unknown, particularly as concerns public health and safety guidance. Our strong desire is to have your children physically present in our school this Fall, and I am confident we will be ready for whatever reality awaits our region and world come September.  

I want to let you know that BB&N is very lucky that Dr. Tara Gohlmann, our Chief Financial & Operating Officer, has been invited to be a member of the Return to School Working Group being convened by Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Jeffrey Riley. The statewide group’s first meeting will take place this Thursday, and Tara's participation in this group will give us an important window into how schools across the Commonwealth are preparing for September. 

Over the next two weeks, I will share information about the timeline and other details relating to our fall plan, including a parent webinar that I am planning to host sometime during the week of May 18. Much more to come, as the landscape continues to evolve. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the rest of the week and the (finally) more springlike weather that makes this isolated lifestyle somehow a little more bearable!

Best,

Dr. Jennifer Price
Head of School


P.S. A reminder that if you or your family are struggling in any way due to the implications of the pandemic, please let us know via this confidential form. We are ready to help in any way we can!