Dear Bentley Community,
Since early May, members of the Administration, along with faculty and staff leaders, have been planning for a new school year unlike any other. Having successfully launched Bentley’s Remote Schoolhouse Program in March and enrolled the entire Bentley faculty in the highly regarded One Schoolhouse program this summer, a program designed to enhance teaching techniques and boost confidence in remote education, we continue to take all steps available to maintain Bentley’s legacy of excellence in teaching and learning.
Each day, all of us are flooded with news about education and how, Kindergarten through college, locally and nationally, schools are making plans to go forward in the midst of the global pandemic. Independent schools have both the luxury and the obligation to chart the course that is right for each of us. In determining the path for Bentley, we considered numerous factors along with the risks and rewards associated with each. Undoubtedly, every member of our community is managing under different levels of stress from unprecedented change. Each one of us bears individual responsibilities that require different individual responses. Working from home, caring for older family members and those with health conditions that put them at higher risk for the ravages of the virus, dealing with financial setbacks, along with additional daily adjustments for remote learning: we remain mindful of all of these factors in our planning as we roll out next steps for the coming school year.
First and foremost, our primary consideration is SAFETY. We will make all decisions to prioritize the health and wellness of our community, considering every student along with their families, our faculty, staff, and administration and the wider communities we each inhabit. Next is our ongoing commitment to the Bentley Promise: “to pursue academic excellence from Kindergarten to the threshold of college.” We will maintain the robust academic experience for which Bentley is known, whether on campus, remotely, or in a hybrid model. Finally, we will remain alert, nimble, and responsive, institutional qualities that have served us well through this time, as new data informs next steps forward.
The academic year will begin on August 26th in the Remote Schoolhouse model with online instruction. This will provide an opportunity to build on the strengths of our community’s experience this past spring and summer, devoting fresh energy and care to meeting the needs of all of our students. Student return to campus will be phased as conditions permit in a purposeful manner. As part of a phased return, and considering safety factors at that time, groups of students may be invited to campus for opportunities of face to face connection, allowing us to stress-test campus protocols and experience new ways of being together. New students will receive distinct opportunities for engagement, as we work to welcome them to Bentley and make our campuses and our faculty members encouraging and familiar. What we learn from these critical experiences will inform a phased campus opening over the course of the fall depending largely on the continually evolving conditions of the pandemic and other possible challenges including power outages during fire season. Stepping from one phase to the next will be guided by careful assessments of relevant conditions and our shared success acclimating to campus protocols. Once again, with the health and safety of our entire community as our first priority, this conservative strategy will ensure that we have ample opportunity to train faculty, students, and staff in new habits and community norms while incorporating best practices for on-campus life.
Sharing this news with the faculty, staff, and administration this morning and hearing from so many who expressed their confidence and willingness in executing this multi-layered plan, was gratifying. Despite the unusual set of circumstances we face in opening Bentley’s second century, we know we are fortunate to be part of a legacy that has faced unprecedented challenges in the past and, as our mascot the Phoenix symbolizes, has risen to the occasion, recovering even stronger. With all of us pulling together, this challenge will be no exception.
Thank you for your support during the past months in Remote Schoolhouse and for your good will and confidence as we move Bentley forward.
Wishing you well,