Dear Bullis Community,
This morning we held a virtual coffee on Zoom for parents with division heads and a few other administrators, myself, and incoming head of school Christian Sullivan. The discussion addressed many questions from parents and even an 8th grade student who was listening closely as well. With or without coffee in hand, I hope many of you were able to find time to sign in to hear the excellent questions and informative answers.
After a slide presentation overview about remote learning, grading, end-of-year plans for the divisions, parent and student surveys and more, we opened the virtual floor for parent questions. Many parents want to know about the opening of school in the fall, and plans for keeping students safe and healthy when we all eventually return to campus. We talked about the importance, and our targeted intention, to provide Bullis students a flow of continuous learning, whether in a remote learning program, back on campus in classrooms, or in a hybrid educational model that combines both.
Our frank consensus is that we do not know yet what arrangements we will need to make for the fall. We can assure you that your children will receive an uninterrupted education. The best mode of education has yet to be determined—possibilities include staggered schedules, use of extra spaces, a hybrid of remote and campus learning, and more. Many variables are predicated on the virus situation, and on recommendations from the state, the governor, health officials, and so on. We will do everything to ensure a safe and healthy school environment for students whenever they return, providing the best possible learning under any circumstances. Your children's well-being and education are the priorities under my watch as Head of School, and will be the same priorities when Christian Sullivan begins his tenure in July.
Our Crisis Team meets twice a week and we are considering every possible option, precaution, and detail. As soon as decisions are made regarding how Bullis will proceed in the fall, we will be sure to let you know and give you as much information as we can.
Other questions this morning revolved around different situations for students and different learning styles in remote education. We touched on our efforts to recognize, individualize, and make adjustments to our program. Our administrators explained that we are continuing to develop and improve our remote learning program, and will be doing so over the summer. Some of our teachers will receive additional training this summer as well. Thanks to the outstanding efforts of our faculty and technical team, the program is growing in its ability to meet the needs of our students and educators.
Questions also came to us about families with changing situations. We understand that many of our families are experiencing unexpected challenges and circumstances, and we encourage you to reach out to our Admission office and to Tim Simpson, Associate Head of School, for individual discussions if needed. It is our intention to keep our community together by offering support where possible.
Parents asked about the college process for Upper School students. Our college counseling office is available to work with students and offer guidance and support to make sure that process is uninterrupted.
I am grateful that the community had an opportunity to hear from Christian Sullivan directly this morning. We have been working closely together these weeks and will continue to do so to ensure a seamless transition. During the discussion, he shared some thoughts about options for starting school, including possibilities such as staggered schedules, utilizing additional spaces on campus, solutions for physical distancing, and more, along with possible changes to the school year calendar. Christian Sullivan and our administrators agree that much is yet to be determined.
We have created a brief survey regarding possible extended time in the 2020-2021 school calendar. Our crisis team, along with Christian Sullivan, will carefully consider your answers.
This is simply an extraordinary time with unpredictable elements. We are working together to make the very best decisions for students, staff, and community, and will keep you informed at every step. Your feedback about these and other issues continues to be valuable as we consider options and make decisions.
In other updates this week, we are looking at the results of the second set of surveys that went out recently. The feedback about remote learning is very positive. Many people mentioned their approval of the structure the program offers and the flexibility in both the program and in teacher approaches. Your comments are thoughtful, your suggestions are good, and we appreciate your input very much.
Summer programs have been cancelled, as you probably know. With a quieter campus this summer, we will be able to make new upgrades to keep the campus safe and clean now and in the future. For instance, our Facilities team will be installing additional hand sanitizers, disinfectant spray, and paper towel dispensers in every classroom and office areas. This will allow us to keep every area on campus clean, and give everyone ready access to cleaning hands, items, and surfaces as needed.
As the end of the school year fast approaches, divisions are making arrangements for awards and recognition of our students. Please watch your email for specific information to come from your child's division and grade about video presentations and livestream events. It is important that students have these much-deserved end-of-year acknowledgements.
Yesterday was the last day of classes for our seniors—an extraordinary group of graduates in unusual circumstances. I want to congratulate them for their tremendous efforts, their resilience, and their good-natured acceptance of the situation. We are making plans to bring them some surprises on June 1st, which would have been the day of their commencement ceremony. Watch for news about that to follow.
I hope you had a chance to watch the drone video created by Technology Network Manager Ty Lloyd, an FAA certified sUAS pilot, in honor of our seniors. Whether your child is a graduate this year or returning, this beautiful video has meaning for all of us who love Bullis.
Thank you for your belief in Bullis and for your support throughout these weeks. Your children are by far our most precious commodity and we are doing all we can to ensure the best for them, and for our entire community.
As a reminder, our Upper School musicians will be presenting a virtual music event livestreamed on Sunday, May 17, at 4:00 pm. I am looking forward to their great music!
Stay safe and well—and enjoy the beautiful weather that has arrived at last!
My best regards,
Gerald L. Boarman, Ed.D.