Dear Blair students and parents,
If this global pandemic has taught us anything, it is that being “all in” and “all together” have never been more important, and we are making every effort to ensure our community’s safe return to Blair Academy for the fall semester. We simply cannot wait to welcome you to campus in August and embrace all that is best about Blair together on our hilltop. No doubt, after these many months apart, we will all return to Blair with a deeper appreciation for the transformative experiences and meaningful relationships that come from learning and living together on our beautiful and historic campus.
Of course, protecting the health and well-being of all members of our community is our highest priority, so campus life must look different this fall. But the Blair community has a long history of overcoming challenges and making sacrifices for the greater good, and we are confident that the strategies we are adopting will allow us to continue to offer students an exceptional educational experience and vibrant community life. More than ever before, our daily actions and choices will impact the health and well-being of classmates, faculty and staff, as well as our ability to remain together for the fall semester. Given that our safe return to in-person teaching and learning will require some online components and not every Blair student is able to return to Blairstown immediately, we are excited to introduce new technologies that will connect us in new ways. Whether we are physically together or not, Blair is committed to being flexible and accessible in supporting students and families as we adjust to this “new normal” of Blair life.
For those who will return to campus, we ask for your partnership in abiding by a host of collective community expectations designed to keep everyone on our hilltop healthy and well. The COVID-19 expectations outlined on the School’s reopening plan webpage are also included in our Student Handbook as an addendum. Please note that our plans take into account the guidance and direction provided by the state of New Jersey, our local health department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and consulting physicians with expertise in infectious diseases. These expectations are to be followed until otherwise indicated and supersede any specific policies in our existing Student Handbook. Given the fluid nature of the pandemic, we will make adjustments quickly as needed and will keep all families updated as we proceed through the school year.
While much has been done from a planning, logistics and public-health standpoint, the responsibility lies with all of us to fully commit to the following practices:
Physical distancing of six feet
Wearing masks whenever inside buildings or in public outdoor spaces, including the core of campus (except while eating in the dining room, when inside one’s dorm room, during athletic activities and when away from the core of campus)
Washing hands carefully and frequently
Completing daily self-health screenings and temperature checks to actively monitor for symptoms of illness
We ask families to complete a form indicating when they plan to arrive on campus and their intentions for the fall semester by this Friday, July 24, to help guide us in our planning. We also ask that all community members sign the Buccaneer Pledge acknowledging receipt of our reopening plan expectations and signifying an understanding that they apply to each of us. We know from working with adolescents that 100-percent perfect compliance is not possible, and we have no desire to address lapses through our formal disciplinary system. However, we will take repeated failure to meet core community health expectations seriously, up to and including required time away from school. We are optimistic that our students’ care for one another and wish to do right by their teachers and classmates will carry us forward toward a healthy and safe 2020-2021 school year.
Thank you again for your support and partnership during this unprecedented time, and please be in touch with any questions or concerns. I invite you to participate in tonight's Parent Town Hall meeting (Wednesday, July 22, at 8 p.m. EST) to further discuss our reopening plans. While certainly no one anticipated Blair’s 173rd year opening with these protocols in place, the deep care and connection that make the Blair community so special have never been stronger, and we all look forward to joyfully reuniting on campus next month.
Chris Fortunato & the Blair Academy Reopening Task Force