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Head of School Briefing: November 17, 2020

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Head of School Briefing: November 17, 2020
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Dear Bullis Families,

test results

We tested everyone on campus on 11/12 and 11/16 and had zero positive tests from a total of 663 tests. However, we were made aware of three positive results of tests conducted off-campus. These are in addition to those reported last week. The county health department has been informed, and we have carried out our own contact tracing and communicated with anyone we believe may have been in contact. Below is the ongoing tabulation of our testing results. There continues to be no evidence of any transmission on campus.

On-Campus Testing Results

  • Aug 26: 868 Tests 4 Positive
  • Sept 14: 863 Tests 0 Positive
  • Sept. 30: 882 Tests 1 Positive
  • Oct. 16: 903 Tests 0 Positive
  • Oct. 27: 920 Tests 0 Positive
  • Nov. 3: 871 Tests 0 Positive
  • Nov.10: 888 Tests 1 Positive
  • Nov. 17: 663 Tests 0 Positive (Fewer tests as US students and faculty were absent.)

Total 6858 Tests / 6 Positive Tests.

Community Spread and the Holiday Period:

The test positivity rate in Montgomery County is 5.09% (6.45% in MD) and the new case rate per day per 100,000 is 25.0 (28.2 in MD). The numbers are now comparable with those at the height of the pandemic in May. The Governor’s school guidelines for having limited or no in-person programming have now been reached.

As you know, last week we took the decision to educate Upper School students remotely until after Thanksgiving because of off-campus positive test results – we are now operating at the “limited in-person programs” level. While there is no evidence of transmission on campus, there is continuing strong evidence of transmission through club/travel athletics. All our positive tests bar one are connected to outside athletic activities. Furthermore, the Health Department has let us know that there is a spike in numbers in the Potomac / Rockville / Bethesda area. While this spike is not connected to Bullis per se, we are all impacted by the community spread and need to take additional precautions.

As I believe you know, we are doggedly attempting to continue to give students and families the option of safe on-campus education. While I am already disappointed that we paused in the Upper School, I am further concerned about what could happen over the holiday period and beyond. Quite simply, if we see many infections in our Bullis community, we will not be able to offer on-campus education between Thanksgiving and the winter vacation. The decision to move to remote education could be taken by the school or by the County Health Department if it believes that we are presenting a public health risk. Let’s not have that that happen!

Here’s what you can do over the holiday period to support our continuing efforts to offer in-school education.

  1. Do not engage in travel athletic teams. If your child participates, please do not send them to campus.
  2. Playdates and extracurricular activities should follow all protocols of masking and physical distancing in well-ventilated areas -- preferably outside.
  3. Do not allow sleepovers.
  4. Do not travel to hot spot areas. If you or your child should do this, please quarantine upon returning and wait for negative test results.
  5. Avoid social gatherings beyond those in your household, even with family.
  6. Have any family members returning to your household from college or travel tested and have them isolate from the rest of the household until the test results are received.
  7. Continue to monitor your health and your child's health daily.

I know that these directions are extremely difficult for many families. I do not ask these things lightly; to the contrary. If we are to continue to have in-person school, we must curtail infections. Governor Hogan just announced further restrictions to civic life (although no changes in schools) and it is possible that Marc Elrich, the Montgomery County Chief Executive, may impose further restrictions in the near future.

Upcoming Testing Dates

  • November 19: MS Gold Team
  • November 23: In-school testing for MS Blue Team and Lower School. Drive through testing available for all US.

Please be reminded that students who do not provide a negative test result are not permitted to be on campus.

Post-Thanksgiving Reminder

Here is a reminder of our schedule after the Thanksgiving break.

  • Monday, Nov. 30: All faculty tested and virtual professional development. No school.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 1: No school for LS and MS, only drive-through testing. US fully remote.
  • Wednesday, Dec 2: No school for US, only drive-through testing. MS fully remote. LS in school on campus, provided test results are in.
  • Thursday, Dec. 3: LS in school. MS Gold in school, provided test results are in. US fully remote.
  • Friday, Dec. 4: LS in school. MS Gold in school, provided test results are in. US fully remote.
  • Monday, Dec. 7: LS in school. MS Blue in school. US Blue in school.

Conversation with the Head of School: November 18th at 7:00pm

Tomorrow evening at 7:00pm, I look forward to giving virtual remarks on the state of the school, with the opportunity for you to ask questions too. I promise not to spend the entire time on Covid-related issues! I really hope you can join me. The link to join can be found in your email dated 11/17


Christian G. Sullivan
Head of School