April 14, 2020

Dear BB&N Families,

I hope you and your families are well. Now that we have entered our third week of remote learning, I hope students and families are settling into a more comfortable routine. As you have probably noticed, I have been communicating less frequently, as the campus directors and teachers have increased their communication. Of course, I will continue to communicate schoolwide information on a regular basis as we move forward this spring. 

Survey and Program Updates
I would like to thank the more than 600 community members (students, faculty, and parents) who shared feedback in the survey to evaluate Week #1 that we sent on April 3rd. The findings were both enlightening and affirming: I was pleased to see that 78 percent of the “rating based” responses were either positive or very positive (with 15 percent being moderate). That said, we also knew from the outset that our first two weeks would be a “runway” experience for everyone involved—students, teachers, and families—to find the right pace and balance for remote learning. To that end, I was especially grateful for the written comments and suggestions in the survey, which helped us identify important areas to explore for improvement. 

Some of the key takeaways that emerged from the survey included a desire for more sleep time among our older (Gr 7-12) students, a request for a more consistent and coordinated approach to the construction and sharing of weekly schedules, a wish for more synchronous learning opportunities in our LS community, and, from B-12, a hunger for more chances for students to enjoy the virtual company of classmates beyond the academic program.  

I’m proud of the thoughtful revisions our campus directors and teachers have incorporated to make the experience better for all as we move forward into the second phase of remote learning.

  • The Middle School and Upper School have moved to a later 8:30AM start to the day. I know it required a lot of schedule flexibility from teachers and advisors, but I think the payoff is more than worth it whenever we can carve out ways to help kids be less hurried and stressed in these challenging times. At the Lower School, the morning meeting is such a vital community-building staple of the day for students that it made sense to keep the timing of that intact. 
  • The Lower School has intentionally ramped up this week, incorporating a developmentally appropriate approach to a more “school-like” daily schedule as well as including more synchronous learning sessions. 
  • Teachers are working hard to give their students a “week-ahead” view of the academic schedule, and also to share Zoom and Google Meet links in the simplest, most uncluttered manner possible.
  • If you haven’t yet checked out the collection of Health & Wellness videos that our Athletics staff has posted on the Learning Hub, you should take a look—our teachers and coaches have done a wonderful job creating these ways for students to stay active, even in isolation!
  • Opportunities for students to stay in touch with each other are gathering momentum. More than a dozen clubs at the Upper School have been able to reconnect online so far, the Middle School has built an Activities block into the schedule four days a week where kids can drop in to connect with each other in fun ways, and I know that Lower School students and teachers are having a great time with the “live lunch days” that have started this week.

You can see an overview of the Week 1 survey findings here. I particularly want to highlight the Wordles from these findings. As we have learned from schools on the West Coast, who are a few weeks ahead of us, one of the key issues we need to pay attention to is ensuring that faculty and staff are able to juggle their new reality without feeling overwhelmed. Please know one of my main areas of focus right now is monitoring and supporting the social and emotional well-being of our employees, as their investment is a key to holding us all together in this difficult time. 

I will plan to send another survey next week to check in on how the experience is faring for all involved.

UKnighted Community Response Team
I’m pleased to announce an important initiative being launched by the Board of Trustees to support the continuing health and well-being of our community. I’ve always said that difficult times bring out the best in our caring and connected community. In that spirit, a team comprised of Board Members and Parents’ Association leaders will try to reach out to every BB&N family to check in on how things are going and see if there are any concerns that our “uKnighted community” can assist with—whether academic, social-emotional, medical, financial, or whatever else. This team will update me regularly on what they’re hearing and allow us to be more nimble in supporting anyone who might need it. Understandably, it will take a bit of time for these team members to be able to reach every household, but please be on the lookout for their call! 

In addition, as I’ve included in every letter I’ve written to you over the past several weeks, please remember that if you or your family are struggling in any way due to the implications of the pandemic, you can also let us know via this confidential form. We are ready to help in any way we can! And remember as well that our counselors, nurses, and learning support specialists have provided an array of great resources for families on their Support page

Looking for 100% Participation this Weekend!
The Head’s Daily Challenge continues to enjoy incredible participation among students. I want to give a heads up that this weekend’s challenge (posting Friday morning) is one that I hope we can get every single member of our community—our 1,013 students plus every parent—to participate in. In partnership with the Parents’ Association, we plan to ask everyone to write a thank-you email note to a current faculty or staff member. It’s a challenge that not only reflects my favorite word in our school motto, Kindness, but also aligns with our focus on supporting our faculty and staff. More details to follow (the challenges post each weekday on the link noted above), but I wanted to tell you now, in case you or your children want to get a head start!

Lastly, I’m thrilled to share that BB&N’s Admission season wrapped up on April 10th with incredibly strong results. We are fully enrolled in all grades, and I am so excited to welcome this terrific group of students and families who are joining our uKnighted community. I especially want to salute our Admission team as well as our faculty and parent volunteers, who all put in such amazing work under truly difficult circumstances. 

Wishing you and your families all the best,

Dr. Jennifer Price
Head of School