April 3, 2020

Dear BB&N Families,

Congratulations to your children for completing the first week of online learning! I have heard from many families about how excited their children were to re-engage with school work and especially with their classmates and teachers. This is great to hear and you will not be surprised to hear that I have received the same sentiments from the perspective of our teachers. 

Thank you all for your patience, compassion, and flexibility during this initial launch. As I noted in prior letters, online learning is uncharted territory for all of us. We are grateful for your understanding and your assistance as we work to design the best and most healthy experience possible for all our students. 

I fully recognize the massive adjustment that you as parents have had to make in your daily lives. A month ago, none of you were expecting to be promoted to a temporary position of Remote Learning Assistant, in addition to all your other responsibilities. Our faculty and staff have had to make the same sort of stressful adjustments on the fly, too, as they balance work, home, and family commitments in a way that they couldn’t possibly have imagined a few weeks ago.

Of course, we are just three days in on this uKnighted journey, and I know that we all share the same commitment to make the experience for our students as healthy and rewarding as possible. To that end, we are eager to hear feedback about what your children’s experience has been during this initial launch in order to identify improvements that we can incorporate moving forward. Please click here to access the parent survey ; we have sent a similar survey to students (5th grade and older) and faculty as well.

As I’ve connected with our campus leaders, teachers, parents, and students over the course of this week, a few trends have risen to the forefront:

1) There is consensus that our top challenge is making sure we find the right balance for our students, that we achieve a daily rhythm that best combines academic growth with general well-being . We acknowledge the difficulty in finding this perfect balance. However, we know from educators who have been leading online learning for a while, such as our Global Online Academy colleagues, that it is possible to create sustained, meaningful engagement opportunities for students in the remote learning environment. The important thing, though, is to make sure this engagement happens in the larger context of a healthy, balanced lifestyle for children. Research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, highlights the potential risks of excessive screen time for school-age children. I would add that this focus on student wellness is exponentially more important during the stressful, pandemic-defined circumstances we’re all facing these days. Which is why I feel that the priority that we hold as MOST important during this period of online learning is the health and well-being of our students . Any other priority is a distant second.

2) Most folks I have connected with mention how essential it is that BB&N create opportunities for students to be able to maintain a sense of community. I know how much kids are missing the ability to be with their classmates, their friends, and, yes, even their teachers. We have now had a few days of experiencing different ways to accomplish community-building. These include synchronous, video-conference classes, the LS Community Board , and the Head’s Daily Challenge . We are especially eager to hear students’ feedback on this question of whether they are feeling enough connection with their BB&N community.

3) The third trend is making sure that no student gets left behind. Please be sure to reach out to your teacher(s) and/or campus director if your child is struggling to engage with online learning for any reason. The words “uKnighted community” have never been more important than they are now. 

I hope that everyone in your family is remaining safe and well. Please remember, 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!

Best,

Dr. Jennifer Price
Head of School