Dear BCD Families:
Please take a moment to read this letter carefully. I recognize it is one of many in a long line of email communications filling your inbox, but the information contained herein will guide us as we plan for your child’s future.
Thank you for all you’ve done this spring to support our students and our community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily we are inspired by the stories you share with us, and we continue to be grateful for all of your efforts. Please know we miss you and your children dearly. Distance has certainly made our hearts grow fonder!
BCD has been at the forefront of schools responding to the suspension of in-person learning in new and innovative ways. Our Bulldogs Connect program has evolved over the course of the past six weeks, and we expect it to continue to do so as we approach the end of our school year. We also understand that we have more to learn, and we welcome your feedback. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to let us know how we are doing, and please do respond to requests to complete surveys. Together - students, faculty and staff, and families - we will continue to build a program that is second to none. We promise to keep you informed of our thinking and to share with you our plans as they come into focus.
The Board of Trustees has been working closely with BCD’s Administrative Leadership Team throughout this unique period, and we are proceeding with our current and future planning with the guidance of local, state, and national organizations in mind. This includes regular and ongoing conversations with local and state health officials to learn more about the outlook and timing of the return to in-person learning. While we wish we could firmly describe to you exactly what school will look like this fall, we simply cannot do so at this time. Guidance is beginning to synthesize, but the possibilities remain such that identifying and planning for one specific outcome would be unproductive.
That said, we can share with you some thoughts regarding completing this school year, planning for the fall, and transition from 2019-20 to 2020-21.
Completing the 2019-20 School Year
Our faculty and staff are committed to completing this school year with the best academic, social, and emotional interests of your children in mind. We will continue to update and innovate Bulldogs Connect to the point where we believe we will have a suitable long-term distance learning plan in place for future years should we need it. As we mentioned previously, your feedback is a critical component to its evolution. We appreciate your thoughtful praise and criticism, and we will actively consider both as we move towards the end of the school year.
Recently, you received information on how we have adapted our assessment and grading programs to fit Bulldogs Connect, and we can assure you that your children will be promoted to the next grade for the 2020-21 school year.
We understand the disruption from the pandemic has many of you asking about student progress and mastery of core competencies. While we acknowledge that the pandemic caused academic disruption, we are confident that our children will be prepared for next and future years. For students who are returning to BCD, we anticipate a rigorous assessment program at the beginning of the 2020-21 school-year to help us understand individual and grade level progress. For those who are moving on to other schools, students across the country and around the world experienced the same disruptions and we know that those schools will likely be conducting a similar review of progress.
Our 8th grade families might have specific questions about alignment with high school programs. Please know that we are in touch with those schools, and, to date, their plans are still taking shape. For instance, we’ve been told by both public (BVSD and St. Vrain School Districts) and private schools that they plan to conduct early fall assessments, but that they are still mapping out exactly what this will look like. They are unlikely to have the details for some time. Still, we remain confident that BCD’s 8th graders are well prepared for their futures. If you have any specific questions about course selection or process, please let us know. Mr. Welch and/or Mrs. Pezdek will do their best to put you in touch with the appropriate person at the high school in which your student is enrolled.
Commencement Exercises - To comply with County requirements, we are thrilled to offer our 8th grade families a two-fold event, which will include both a virtual commencement ceremony (via Zoom) and a “drive through” ceremony for 8th grade families only (on campus). Both ceremonies will occur during the morning of Friday, May 22nd. The virtual ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. and the drive-through ceremony will follow at 11:00 a.m. We will send another email with further details next week, but we hope you can join the Zoom to honor our graduates!
Planning for the 2020-21 School Year
BCD is planning for school to resume for the 2020-21 school year, and we continue to gather more information regarding the resumption of in-person learning. It is increasingly clear that the Governor of Colorado will be able to set the minimum requirements that must exist for schools to resume in-person learning; however, counties will have the ability to strengthen (not weaken) these requirements to respond to local conditions. As such, the decision to open schools (both public and private) to in-person learning may largely reside with Boulder County officials.
We’ve been advised that state and local health officials are looking at the following indicators as they formulate their decision for re-opening schools to in-person learning:
- Transmission of the virus is controlled
- Local hospitals are able to treat all patients needing hospitalization
- Testing is widely available, including contact tracing
- Outbreak risks are minimized
- Adequate preventative measures are in place
- Schools have the information and guidance needed to adhere to requirements
Scenarios for the Fall - BCD is actively investigating three different scenarios for the fall. Each scenario has its own unique challenges and, while we join you in wanting certainty, we cannot yet determine what the Fall will look like from our current vantage point. Ultimately, each scenario will transition into your child returning to campus to enjoy and benefit from in-person learning:
- Resume in-person learning as scheduled in August. This is the hoped-for scenario. Please note in-person learning will likely look different in the foreseeable future than it used to. Below please find some of the health and safety protocols we will be considering.
- Fully remote learning in August. We will benefit from two months of our collective Bulldog Connect experiences to build an even better long-term distance learning program.
- Combination of #1 and #2 in a bimodal learning environment. This scenario includes the possibility that we might offer both in person and remote or we might begin in one mode and move to another as allowed or required by state or local officials.
To address the varying possibilities the above scenarios will require, BCD has set up a task force with multiple sub-committees staffed by faculty and staff from multiple divisions and areas of responsibility. The task force is considering our educational program, health and safety protocols, well-being, facilities, and finance so that we can be prepared for what awaits in the fall.
Educational Program - The format of school in August will inspire us to consider multiple approaches to our educational program. Led by our division heads and members of the teaching faculty, we will use our inherent expertise and lessons gained from our peers to determine what works best for our students. When school resumes in August (no matter what the format), we will begin by using formative assessments to determine how and where each student finished the 2019-20 school year. We evaluate both individual students and entire grade levels to understand more deeply how they compare to our existing standards and to determine levels of competency. We will adjust our curriculum as needed. We will also keep social-emotional health top of mind, supporting your child regardless of the scenario and doing our best to ensure they are ready to learn.
Health and Safety Protocols - BCD, like all other schools will be implementing a variety of health and safety measures to do our part to minimize the spread of the virus. While guidance is not yet focused on exact protocols, below are some of the measures we are actively considering assuming in-person learning is possible:
- Stepped-up health and hygiene measures, including daily health screenings, face masks, physical distancing rules (such as desks 6 feet apart), limiting access to buildings, cleaning and disinfecting high touch areas, frequent hand washing, and more.
- Class sizes of 10 or fewer.
- Protocols for positive COVID-19 tests in our community.
- Intervals in carline and staggered school schedules.
- Limiting large gatherings (Assembly, multi-grade recess, sports events, etc.)
It is important to note that the above guidelines only represent a small portion of what we may be asked to follow and that Boulder County or the State of Colorado may have additional requirements.
Well-Being - Social-emotional well-being is and will be a critical focus of ours moving forward. Current experience with distance learning taught us that our entire community - students, families, faculty, and staff - need continued nourishment and connection, and we anticipate this will continue regardless of the mode of instruction.
Infrastructure: Facilities and Technology - The above scenarios and health and safety protocols will challenge us to take a hard look at our facilities to ensure we have what we need to serve our families. We will be thinking carefully about the operational nature of all existing facilities to determine how or if they need to change. We will consider furniture and equipment purchases that might be necessary to comply with health and safety regulations, and we will be studying ways in which we can utilize facilities to support the evolving nature of school in the 2020-21 school year. In addition, we will be evaluating our school technology program to ensure it is set up to serve teaching and learning in 2020-21.
Finance - School finance in both the public and private school realms has been impacted significantly by the pandemic. While BCD has felt the effects as well, prudent Board and school leadership decisions have left us in a position to weather the storm. We will leverage Board and school leadership expertise to consider the pandemic’s impact on enrollment, cash flow, reserves, and fundraising. Already we have offered families the opportunity to change their tuition payment plans and to move out tuition payments. We have also increased financial assistance and created the COVID-19 Temporary and Emergency Assistance program to help families most severely impacted by the pandemic. Although we are not immune, with your projected fall enrollment we have the capacity to absorb the bumps that lie ahead and we expect to make it through the pandemic in good standing.
We know that this letter is not wholly representative of the challenges we will face, but we hope that it provides you with some comfort and clarity now and as we move into the late spring and early summer. We will not live in this remote mode forever, and we eagerly anticipate the day when all Bulldogs can return safely to campus. Until then, let’s stay in touch and continue to enhance this great community upon which this school was built.
And, finally, if your family could use financial assistance to continue with BCD for the 2020-21 school year, please consider applying for our COVID-19 temporary and emergency assistance program. Its sole purpose is to help families deeply impacted by this crisis and we welcome your inquiry. Contact Ann-Marie Tewey at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information.
Thank you again, and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Head of School
Chair, BCD’s Board of Trustees