Head of School Chris Fortunato announced on April 1 that distance learning will remain in effect at Blair Academy indefinitely as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect our region, the nation and the world. In a video message to the Blair community, Mr. Fortunato acknowledged the disappointment that students, especially seniors, will no doubt experience knowing they will not return to campus during the spring semester, a time that would ordinarily be filled with many culminating events and celebrations, including commencement. However, he also expressed faith in students’ courage and commitment to the greater good amid the challenges we are all facing at this time.
“Many of you to whom I’ve talked to in recent days knew my decision today was likely coming. I have been deeply moved by the sentiment that I’ve heard echoed over and over again—that while we understandably grieve the loss of a spring semester together, our focus and energy must remain on all who are fighting to keep our fellow citizens around the country and the globe, including our friends and loved ones, safe and healthy in the midst of this crisis,” Mr. Fortunato said. “We grieve the loss of the joy and togetherness that a beautiful Blair spring normally brings us, but, as always, we look beyond ourselves to others. We grieve the loss of lives and livelihoods that the coronavirus has wrought, and we channel our grief into an unwavering resolve that we will be back here on this campus when this crisis ends to learn, laugh, compete and create, and to celebrate our spirit and your accomplishments.”
Mr. Fortunato noted that a virtual commencement celebration will take place in May for graduating seniors, while the School will make plans for an in-person graduation and other celebratory events just as soon as possible. “I promise you, even if it’s hard to see right now, that the best is truly yet to come,” he said to the members of the class of 2020. “Seniors, your Blair friends and faculty who care so much about you are here for you, not just for one last season on the hilltop but for a lifetime, no matter where life takes you and us.”
A series of FAQs accompanied Mr. Fortunato’s message to the Blair community. The School will continue to build upon its first weeks of distance learning as the semester progresses by incorporating virtual versions of many of quintessentially Blair programs, including Society of Skeptic lectures, School Meeting, Head of School Roundtables, service work and more.
Mr. Fortunato concluded his message with an affirmation of Blair’s core value. “People are the heart of this school. People must always come first. At this time of great uncertainty and challenge, we are committed to taking exceptional care of our students and our dedicated faculty and staff,” he said. “I don’t have every answer I wish I had for you today, but I can promise you this: We will deliver on our mission every day, we will put our people first, we will take great care to do the next right thing as circumstances change, and we will be back here together and stronger than ever. Stay strong, stay home and go Bucs.”