Dear Bishop’s Alumni,
In my first year as the head of The Bishop’s School, I had been looking forward to reaching out, meeting many of you and communicating with you throughout the year. I had not anticipated that I would be writing to you this spring regarding the COVID-19 virus, but I know how much you care about your school, and I thought you would want to know what is happening and how we are doing.
Over the past few weeks, we had been monitoring very closely the spread of the illness and the potential impact on the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff and families. We communicated with our students, families and employees the possibility that we might have to close the campus. We wanted to be sure that everyone could anticipate and prepare for this outcome. I spoke to the middle school and the upper school explaining the potential challenge before us. Their questions revealed a combination of determination, uncertainty and concerns. I spoke to our faculty and staff who moved immediately into preparations for distance learning, hoping that it would not be needed but ready if called upon. I was so impressed to see everyone in this community act with confidence and resolve as we faced circumstances unprecedented in our lifetimes.
We had hoped to stay open as long as safely possible, and then on the morning of Friday, March 13, I informed the students, families, and faculty and staff that that would be our last day of in-person instruction until further notice. Teachers spoke with their classes about how we would continue teaching during a closure, and how we were going to stay connected and support their well-being. We focused on how important it is to learning and wellness to maintain caring relationships, especially during a closure. That afternoon a few of us gathered at the parking area to say goodbye to the students as they headed to buses and cars, arms full and bags packed with everything they would need for some undetermined amount of time. Many thoughtful students thanked us for caring about them. One sophomore said to me “I’m not sure what to say. Have a happy….?”
We began this week preparing for distance learning, and as I write, we have begun day two of online instruction. Our students were so pleased to be back in school, albeit from a distance. They could see each other’s faces again and see their teachers, and return to the wonderful normal rhythms of school. It’s not the same as being on the campus of The Bishop’s School, but it felt great. One class I observed was so immersed in their math class that it ran over time. A student eventually interjected “I think it’s time for milk break.”
I can’t say enough about how our faculty has embraced this challenge. Some teachers are comfortable with technology. Others have had a steeper learning curve. All have been dedicated to adapting and preparing to teach in a different way. All have been generous helping each other. All have been creative, resourceful and hopeful. All feel the humility and camaraderie that comes with confronting the unknown. I am grateful to be in the company of amazing people.
As we look ahead, we don’t know how long we will be facing this global health crisis, nor how long our programs will be disrupted. We don’t know what the impact will be on everyone in our community. I am hopeful that we can replicate as many of the traditions that seniors had expected for their final spring terms, but I don’t know what events in the coming weeks will shape those decisions. While there is much that we don’t know, I do know that I am more confident than ever about the strength of The Bishop’s School. When I spoke with our faculty and staff in our last meeting together, I reminded them that this School has been here since 1909 and it has faced challenges before. It has persevered through two world wars, a great depression, a great recession, 9/11, polio, AIDS and now COVID-19. With our resolve and your love and support, we will endure, and we will come out of this stronger.
Our chaplain, Reverend Nicole Simopolous-Pigato, closes chapel with these words that I wish to share with you: “Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break and all things can be mended, not with time as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”
Bless all of you and this wonderful School,
Head of School
Bishop’s continues to monitor and evaluate information and guidance provided by state and federal agencies as we go forward. For more information on the School’s official updates, please check here
. Thank you all for your patience and understanding during an ever-evolving situation. As you know, this is a rapidly changing, dynamic situation, and we appreciate your patience as we make some difficult decisions.
Alumni Office updates
While our physical office is closed, the Alumni Relations Team
is available remotely should you have any alumni-related needs or questions. We are here to support you and keep the alumni community connected during these uncertain times
The Ellen Browning Scripps (EBS) Celebration has been postponed from Saturday, March 21 to 2020 Reunion Weekend, October 23-25. Date changes for any other alumni events will be shared when they are available.