Dear Members of The Benjamin School Community,
As I reflect on my first year as part of the Benjamin family, I do so through a lens of gratitude despite the challenges we have all faced during these times. I am grateful to all of our Benjamin families who have supported the School and its mission and to the leaders and educators who have come to school each day ready to provide a robust academic program for our students.
Guided by our 12 Benjamin Values, our goal this year has been the preservation of the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and community. As we look forward to Fall 2021, that commitment is informed by an additional 12 months of data and observations collected since the COVID-19 pandemic first unfolded.
Among the most salient findings:
Academic success is strongly correlated with live, in-person instruction
Social-emotional interactions thrive on campus, while mental health may suffer in a remote learning environment
Evidence and contact tracing suggest there is little to no COVID-19 community transmission among students at Benjamin while on campus
A declining infection rate and broad vaccine availability
In conjunction with these findings, we, as independent school leaders, firmly believe in the strength and value of in-person learning. The full Benjamin experience is not possible without the face-to-face relationships and bonds students form with their peers, teachers, mentors, and coaches in class and on campus. While I am tremendously proud of the virtual program we have offered, and how nimble this community has been in the midst of a changed educational landscape, there is truly no replacement for experiential learning in the classroom.
As such, beginning in Fall 2021, our Remote Learning Program will be offered only to families who present a documented medical reason that necessitates virtual instruction.
We recognize and honor that an in-person education may not presently be possible for some families due to underlying health conditions. These families are an important part of the fabric of the Benjamin community, and we are committed to providing their children with the best virtual accommodation possible. Families should contact their Division Head for a Remote Learning Request Form which will be due back by May 21, 2021. Division Heads will work with the COVID-19 task force on the approval process for this option. Please note that students enrolled in the 2021-22 Remote Learning Program will have limited re-entry points in conjunction with grading periods. It is also important to note that enrollment in the Remote Learning Program is separate from the short-term virtual instruction students will receive due to school and/or health department-mandated quarantine.
While we are currently unable to share on-campus protocols for next year due to the rapidly evolving course of the pandemic, rest assured all protocols will continue to be guided by best-practices from the CDC, WHO, and state and local agencies. Like many of our parents, we are eager to have our campus policies reduced for the coming year.
It has been my privilege to work with families and educators who are continually striving to create the best possible environment for our children. A remarkable amount of agility and resilience have been needed, and your thoughtful feedback throughout the process has been instrumental to our success. Your efforts have been noticed by our broader community and evidenced throughout a robust admissions season and growing wait pool. I continue to welcome your suggestions as we work together to plan for another remarkable school year.
David C. Faus
Head of School