October 8, 2020
Dear BB&N Community,
I hope this letter finds you well as we enter our second month of in-person schooling here at BB&N. I write to give you an update on how we continue to evolve our work to keep our school safe during these unprecedented times.
First, let me outline what we know and have learned about our first positive test. Most importantly, I can share that the affected student is doing very well, staying engaged with schoolwork remotely, and is excited to return to campus once cleared to do so.
I want to remind you that this student was exposed by someone outside of BB&N and learned about that exposure through that individual. The family immediately notified us and the student accessed school remotely while awaiting a test. This quick communication is key, and this level of partnership will be critical moving forward.
From there we followed the subsequent process, informed by state protocols, which will serve as a model if we have another case:
- Immediately contacted the Cambridge Department of Public Health and our Consulting School Physician, Dr. Richard Goldstein
- Gathered class seat charts and team rosters and tracked the student’s movements from the first known exposure date
- Worked closely with the family to track any contact with BB&N community members outside of school
- Informed the Chair and Executive Committee of the Board
- Met with the faculty and staff of the impacted campus to explain the situation
- Shared the news with faculty and staff on all campuses and the entire BB&N community
Alerted families of any student who was in a class or on a team with the impacted student, emphasizing that their child would not be contact traced and reminding about testing resources available for our students and families
- Supported the student and the family, and worked with any other families who had questions or concerns.
We can now report it appears that no additional member of our community contracted COVID-19 as a result of exposure to this student. Specifically, as is our weekly practice, 160 members of our faculty and staff were tested last Friday, including the affected student’s teachers/coaches, and we had no positive results. This continues our trend of four straight weeks of no positive tests being recorded for our faculty and staff. We also have no reports of positive cases from any students in the affected student’s classes or team. This highlights the importance of our commitment to the health and safety protocols that we have put in place as part of our reopening plan. It is important to note, in consultation with Dr. Goldstein, that if there had been a second positive test in this student’s cohort we likely would have initiated testing of the entire cohort in order to best assess and contain potential spread.
I share the above information in detail, as I want to outline the process we will employ for future cases so that you can feel assured that we are making every effort to keep our community safe and informed. As always, we will adapt our approach as necessary moving forward.
I also want to take the opportunity to give you an update about our COVID-19 testing process and plan. As I said when we first engaged in baseline testing for our full community, we are committed to continual evaluation of our five-tiered testing plan as the year progresses. For example, we are currently exploring a number of new testing options for our community, including additional testing of students. These new options could include rapid saliva testing, pooled testing, and/or testing a sample of our student population. It is important to remember that testing is only one part of our larger plan to keep our school safe. In our conversations with experts, including members of our own community, we are working hard to understand what changes, if any, make the most sense moving forward. These conversations also underscore that testing is complicated, difficult to administer, and not always reliable. We will be in touch over the next few weeks with more information, as I know that concerns are increasing as colder weather and the holidays approach.
Finally, I want to share a few other important items with the community:
- When school reopens next week after the extra-long weekend, we will no longer have classes meeting in the Upper School ice rink, given the need to adapt to colder weather. Specifically, classes in the ice rink will be moving to four newly created classrooms in the Nicholas Athletic Center weight room, the front NAC cafe, and two classrooms in the Almy wing of the US Main campus. These shifts will continue to separate our grades by zones as the Almy wing is not currently being used by students.
- As we look forward to the 2021 part of the school calendar, we are aware that a disparity will emerge regarding Monday-Tuesday school holidays vs. Thursday-Friday school holidays, and the way that will impact on-campus learning opportunities for grades 7-12. We are tracking these differences, and will be making adjustments to the schedule after Winter Break. More to come on this.
As a reminder, Massachusetts now requires all students to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020, if you are learning on campus. Please be sure to schedule that vaccination for your children as soon as possible, if you have not already yet done so, and send documentation to your campus nurse at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Also, I need to emphasize that your child’s campus nurse should be the first point of contact you have with the school should your child experience any symptoms or if you have any health-related questions. This process is essential to the effective functioning of our health and safety protocols schoolwide.
It is gratifying that we still have students attending school in person as we begin the month of October. As we have articulated since the beginning of our reopening efforts, we will need to continue to be flexible and adaptable as we react to a changing landscape in order to keep our doors open.
Thank you so much for your partnership and support in these challenging times.
Dr. Jennifer Price
Head of School