January 31, 2021
Dear BB&N Community:
We have turned the corner to February. Going back to my Boston Marathon analogy, I think we are at about Mile 19, right by my old stomping grounds of Newton North. As you will see from the rather long communication below, we are still in the hills of Newton, but the finish line is getting closer. I hope the following updates will prove useful as we navigate the next section of this journey.
COVID-19 Dashboard and Pooled Testing
I want to remind you that we will publish the BB&N COVID-19 Dashboard each Sunday by 5pm. As you will see, last week we had one positive test result—a US student—out of 630 tests administered, resulting in a positivity rate of 0.16%. This student is asymptomatic and at home with family. In consultation with the State Epidemiologist, there were no close contacts outside of the family.
We learned a lot about pooled testing this week given that we had our first positive pool. The real advantage of pooled testing is how quickly and efficiently we can test our students—approximately 230 students in 45 minutes at the US, for example. The challenge is that when we get a positive pool all students in that pool need to quarantine until they have a negative result from an individual test. In last week’s case, all 10 students were able to take an individual PCR test with us before school on Friday and then returned home to access school remotely. All testing solutions have tradeoffs, and none are without challenges. Please know we continue to review our approach and adapt as necessary. We look forward to rolling out pooled testing at the MS campus this week, and plan to implement pooled testing at the LS as soon as possible.
Grove Street Purchase Finalized
I am excited to announce that we officially closed on the purchase of the 6-acre lot on Grove Street last Friday. This transformational acquisition allows us to move forward with our partnership with Watertown to develop a 20-acre recreational complex for both our students and the residents of Watertown. I am also excited to announce that we funded almost half of this acquisition with the sale of Buckingham Field to the City of Cambridge. Our hope is to break ground on the Grove Street playing fields in November 2021.
Snow Storm this Week
In case you were worried that I did not have enough decisions on my plate right now, we have a snow storm headed our way, and of course one with an ever changing rain/snow line. As of right now, it looks like after-school activities on Monday and all of Tuesday might be impacted, but as you can imagine we will be monitoring this storm closely and will keep you informed. If we do have a snow day, it will once again be a good, old-fashioned, go-out-in-the-snow-and-play snow day. Given this would only be our second of the year, I feel this is the right call, as we continue to try and preserve some of the normal and fun parts of being a student.
Exciting Stuff Happening on our Campuses
I wanted to highlight some really exciting things that our happening on our campuses, as our students and faculty continue to shine:
- Our varsity teams were able to play two scrimmages this weekend against Nobles and Roxbury Latin. It was so great to see our athletes on the ice and on the court. Our winter athletes have been extremely patient, and I want to give them all a shout-out for representing BB&N so well this weekend.
If you have not yet watched the US Theatre Department’s production of OR21 which debuted last Thursday, I hope you’ll take the time to view the film here. A dramatic retelling of Oedipus Rex, the film is a credit to the two dozen students in the cast and crew, who along with Director Ross MacDonald and a group of other teachers and staffers, showed our community what perseverance looks like. I’m proud of the way they overcame a host of pandemic-induced production challenges to create a really powerful piece of work.
In that same spirit, the 10 seniors who are enrolled in the Contemporary Topics & Research in Science and Technology course have done a great job adapting their capstone project presentations to an online forum this year. This year’s topics include vaccines, immunotherapy, renewable energy, and artificial intelligence. From Tuesday to Thursday this week, you can visit this page as the students will take turns launching screencast videos of their presentations; be sure to submit any questions you might have after watching!
- Last weekend, US students organized BB&N’s first-ever Hackathon (virtually, of course). This two-day, premiere event was made all the more special by the fact that 10 young alumni/ae participated as mentors and judges. I expect this will become an annual tradition here at BB&N.
- The Middle School has taken great advantage of our ability to add the Annex building (leased from neighboring St. Peter’s School) to include MS programming. The visual arts program got a big boost by moving to the Annex; for example, it allows us the space to safely hold ceramics classes. I’m thrilled for what this means for all of our MS artists.
- Students engaging in fieldwork is an important part of the Lower School curriculum. Like with so much of our B-12 curriculum this year, fieldwork is still happening for LS students, it just looks different. Fifth and sixth grade students recently attended a virtual live panel with Latinx leaders, and Kindergarten students have engaged with more than 50 members of the community as part of their Inspiration Project, to name just two examples.
Finally, a few announcements:
I will be giving the annual State of the School address virtually on Thursday, February 18th at 7:00pm. I hope you will be able to join me as I talk about the current state of BB&N and our bold plans for the future. The Zoom webinar link is here.
Just a reminder that starting this Wednesday, February 3rd, the LS will be dismissing at 12:30pm every Wednesday to provide needed time for faculty collaboration.
Thank you all for your continued support. Our commitment to one another has allowed us to stay open and thrive this year.
Head of School