August 20, 2020
Dear BB&N Families,
It was great to “see” so many of you at the virtual Town Halls we hosted over the past week and a half. We had just over 1,000 attendees combined for these four webinars focused on our Reopening Plan. For the Senior Leadership team and me, it was a reminder of how much we all miss the feeling of community that the school year brings.
I write today to share some important updates. The most important of which is the announcement that is still our intention to have all of BB&N’s campuses open the school year on Tuesday, September 8th in the Hybrid learning model. As must always be noted in these times, this decision is based on key state and local metrics as they stand today. We will, of course, continue to keep a close eye on these trends over the next two and a half weeks as we lead up to the first day of school.
I am excited to be able to announce that news. For teachers and students to be able to see and reconnect with each other in person is the best possible scenario in which to start the school year for our students and our community as a whole. It matters pedagogically, it establishes a routine that is important in such unsettled times, and it unites and strengthens us as a community. For a reminder of the details of the Hybrid model on each campus, you can refer to Pages 8-15 in the Reopening Plan I shared on August 1st.
Another reason I am pleased that we will open in the Hybrid model is that it aligns with your hopes for the fall, as illustrated in the recent Reopening Survey. We received responses from close to 700 families and 86 percent of you indicated a preference for your children to start the school year learning on campus. Look for updates from the campus directors over the next two weeks regarding the details of what the opening weeks will look like.
I also want to acknowledge that 14 percent of our families have indicated that they will likely opt for their children to study remotely to start the year. To that end, please keep an eye out for a detailed Remote Learning Plan that Chief Learning Officer Jed Lippard and I will be sharing next week.
Thoughts on Testing
We are committed to implementing a testing program as we look to opening school in a few weeks. We have seen significant evolution over the past two weeks in respect to the types, accuracy, access, and turnaround for testing, and my team is working hard to select the best approach for our community. We are excited that just hours ago, the Governor announced a mobile response team effort that will be deployed to any school (public or private) if the following minimal conditions apply:
- Two or more students/staff within the classroom group develop COVID-19 within 14 days, and transmission/exposure occurred in the classroom;
- More than 3 percent of the cohort/grade (at least 3 individuals) develop COVID-19 within 14 days, and transmission/exposure occurred in the school;
- More than 3 percent of the school develops COVID-19 within 14 days, and there is evidence of transmission within the school;
- Three or more staff within the same school develop COVID-19 within 14 days, and there is evidence of transmission among the staff; or
- Two or more students on the bus develop COVID-19 within 14 days
We expect to have more information and specific plans to share with you at the end of next week about other aspects of our testing program, but the above is a good start.
Frequently Asked Questions
My next update relates to the Town Halls I mentioned at the start of the letter. Not surprisingly, the question-and-answer sessions we conducted during each of these webinars generated a lot of inquiries. To answer as many of your questions as possible, we have created a list of FAQs on the Reopen page on our website. Click here to access the FAQ page: the questions are organized by campus: All School, Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School.
Today we also published our 2020-2021 Student/Family Handbook for you to review before school starts on September 8th. The Handbook is a key resource for important all-school and campus-specific policies and information. A special COVID-19 Appendix is included along with the Handbook this year. I especially ask all members of our community to be sure to read the Appendix before the start of the school year. It is crucial that we are all aligned in our understanding of these special policies and protocols in order to ensure the health and well-being of our entire community this coming year.
uKnighted Community Pledge
In that same spirit, I want to alert you to the uKnighted Community COVID-19 Pledge that we are requiring all families and employees to read and sign before the first day of school. This pledge embodies the trust and responsibility we all share to keep our community as safe as possible this year. We will email the pledge form to you tomorrow; please be aware that students will not be able to participate in school activities until this form (along with the standard health form) is signed by a parent or guardian.
My final update concerns news that was shared by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) yesterday on a few key issues. First, for the 2020-2021 year, all K-12 students will be required to receive an influenza vaccine for the current flu season unless they have a medical or religious exemption. Families will need to provide documentation that their child has received the influenza vaccine and can send this documentation (if not included in their immunization record) to their campus nurse, via email@example.com. In addition to the new immunization requirement, the MDPH has also updated requirements regarding in-person physical examinations. For more information, you can refer to this summary published yesterday by MDPH.
I hope you are all staying healthy and well as we head into the final weeks of summer vacation. The campus directors and I look forward to being in touch with you plenty of more times over these next 19 days as opening day grows nearer!
Dr. Jennifer Price
Head of School