March 2, 2020
Dear Bullis Community,
Each day, as Head of School, I am cognizant and concerned about the safety and well-being of Bullis students, staff members, and our community. With that in mind, I am following up on my initial letter of January 28 regarding the new coronavirus (COVID-19) with updates about precautions and temporary policies to be implemented here at Bullis. We have been monitoring reports of this fast-moving viral outbreak since it first began, and we are working to prevent exposure and spread of colds and viruses on campus and among our community. The safety of our students, staff, and community is always our highest priority.
Members of our administration are taking all necessary precautions for the School and adopting an abundance of caution now and into the foreseeable future. We are closely monitoring the statements of the CDC and pertinent news updates; some of our school leaders have participated in conference calls discussing best practices across all industries, including education; others have consulted with individuals in the CDC and the medical community. As we define immediate steps to protect our community, we are also balancing the need to provide excellent and consistent education to every Bullis student.
We have identified key areas of concern at Bullis and are implementing a targeted approach regarding a) steps to prevent the spread of contagious infection among our community and on our physical campus, b) our response in case of a necessary school closure, and c) travel guidelines for school-sponsored trips and travel among staff and the larger Bullis community.
To help prevent the spread of colds, viruses, and flu, we strongly encourage students, staff, and community to follow these simple recommendations from the CDC:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds (or two run-throughs of "Happy Birthday"). As an alternative, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching the face, eyes, nose, or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
- Cough or sneeze into a flexed elbow, or catch with a tissue and immediately dispose of it in the trash.
- When sick, limit contact with others as much as possible. Take everyday precautions to prevent contagion.
We also want to remind Bullis parents that if your child is sick or has contagious symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, or stomach symptoms, please keep them home from school until symptoms subside. Giving your child adequate time to recover will help them as well as help prevent spreading contagion.
- Additionally, we are now asking parents to keep sick children home for a minimum of three days after a diagnosis of flu.
- Please do not send a sick or contagious child to school to take a test or complete a project (for example, while still fevered, actively coughing, or after a dose of antiviral medication).
- As always, Bullis teachers are happy to work with a student's individual needs following a necessary absence.
- If your child becomes ill at school and needs to go home, please make arrangements to pick them up as soon as possible for their comfort as well as to lessen exposure to others.
This morning, students and staff were reminded in all-school assembly and in meetings of the importance of normal preventive practices. They were also advised that we are taking other immediate measures:
- Students, staff, and visitors are reminded to wash hands often and thoroughly, to cover and catch coughs and sneezes, to use the hand sanitizers placed throughout every building on campus, and to stay home if sick or still recovering.
- Tables and surfaces in the Dining Hall will be wiped down after every lunch session. Utensils will be changed after every lunch as well.
- In the entrée line, students and staff will be served by kitchen staff rather than self-serve. At the salad bar, utensils will be replaced after every lunch session and in between as required.
- Please be assured that our cleaning crew is capable of disinfecting the entire campus if necessary in the case of an outbreak on campus or in the local community.
In Case of School Closure
- Online Learning at Bullis is an established program that can be readily implemented in case of a school closure of a few days or for a more extended period of time. As a leader in the use of educational technology, Bullis is uniquely positioned to allow teaching and learning to continue without disruption.
- Should we find it necessary and wise to close the school for a time in case of a local outbreak, we would present a plan for student online learning with clear expectations. In communications with our community, we would anticipate answers to as many questions as possible.
With the approach of spring break, we are aware that many of our students, staff, and community members will have travel plans. Some of these trips are school-sponsored and within our purview. Trips planned by staff and families are left to the responsibility and judgment of those individuals.
To that end, we have made decisions and defined important guidelines as follows:
- All international school-sponsored student trips over spring break will be canceled. This is to protect our students and staff from the risk of infection in an uncontrolled environment.
- Specific information about international trips will be conveyed separately to involved families from the program leaders.
- We ask that you carefully consider your travel plans over the upcoming weeks for your own health and safety and that of your family and community.
For families and staff members with international travel plans in the upcoming weeks, we ask that you observe these recommendations and requests:
- If you leave the United States, we ask that, upon your return, you self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. Any student who is quarantined will receive appropriate instructional support from each division in order to make up work.
- Please inform the School if you have been overseas and if your child has accompanied you on a trip, before returning to campus or sending your child back to classes.
In addition, I want to emphasize the importance of inclusion, sympathy, and respect regarding our international students. These students, many of whom are from China, are understandably concerned about their families and friends at home. All of these students have been in our community since returning from winter break in January. They have voluntarily decided not to return home to visit family at spring break, and their families will not be visiting them here. This is not an easy decision for families separated by distance, but it is a responsible one that we greatly appreciate. Please show them your support and understanding.
We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation with every available resource and will continue to update the Bullis community as needed.
I encourage you to read this letter carefully and keep it handy, to adhere to CDC recommendations, and to observe our Bullis guidelines. I know that you will be responsible, considerate, and caring at every step during this challenging time in our local and global community.
Please find below some helpful resource links. Thank you all, and I wish each of you health and well-being.
My best regards,
Gerald L. Boarman, Ed.D.
CDC guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm
Handwashing video from CDC (great to share with kids!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d914EnpU4Fo&feature=youtu.be
Montgomery County Coronavirus Information: https://montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS/RightNav/Coronavirus.html