Last updated: Friday, March 27, 3:20 p.m., EDT
The Bement School is actively monitoring new developments with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. We will regularly update the Bement community through email about the school's preparation and responses. Those emails will also be posted here. Please continue to check this page for current updates.
As of Friday, March 27:
- Campus is closed and students or parents will not be allowed on campus to retrieve belongings. Teachers understand that students may or may not have access to some books, school materials, or instruments, and the remote learning work they design will not require these items.
- Faculty members will return to work remotely beginning on Monday, March 23
- Students will have an extended break through Sunday, March 29
- Remote online learning will begin for students on Monday, March 30, and continue through at least Monday, May 4
- Cancelled: All athletic games and practices through April 14
- Cancelled: Accepted Student Day and Reception (March 24)
- Cancelled: Fourth Grade Band Concert (March 27)
- Cancelled: Upper School Concert (March 31)
- Cancelled: Story Hour (April 1)
- Cancelled: Second Grade Play (April 2)
- Cancelled: Fifth Grade Band Concert (April 10)
- What is COVID-19?
- How is COVID-19 spread?
- What are common symptoms?
- How can I prevent from getting COVID-19?
- What should I do if I think I've contracted COVID-19?
- What do we do if we have household members who are vulnerable?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19. This new infectious disease was unknown before the outbreak began in December 2019and has the potential to cause severe respiratory illness in some people.
Content source: World Health Organization
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Content source: World Health Organization
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The following recommended everyday preventive actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- See CDC’s Handwashing website for more details.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.
Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.
- Stay home except to get medical care.
- Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
- Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
- Wear a facemask if you are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Clean your hands often.
- Avoid sharing personal household items.
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday.
- Monitor your symptoms.
- Current information suggests that COVID-19 is not a large threat to our students. However, students may have family members whose health systems are compromised and/or are medically fragile. We ask each family to evaluate their own level of risk and respond accordingly. People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19.
- We STRONGLY recommend families have all household members, including children, develop the routine of washing hands upon arrival at home.
- Why has Bement chosen the date of Tuesday, April 14, as the tentative return date?
- How will on campus events and visitors be handled during this time?
- Is anyone on campus if I need to reach someone?
- My child needs to pick up their books or musical instrument from their cubby or their dorm room. When can I do that?
- What if my child needs their passport?
- What will happen with athletic practices and contests?
- What will happen for the 9th grade musical?
- What about the secondary school process?
- Will Grand Day on Friday, May 22, still be held?
- Are Bement’s summer day programs still happening?
- What steps is Bement taking to keep coronavirus (COVID-19) from campus?
- How will students be screened to return to campus after the distance learning period?
- What will happen when a member of our school community or family member has been exposed or is suspected of having COVID-19?
- How can families help?
The health and well-being of our community is our highest priority. In an effort to protect our students and adults and to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the burden on medical facilities, we have decided tentatively to resume normal school activity on Tuesday, April 14. This allows our boarding students to travel and return to campus on Monday, April 13. In addition, this period of time allows us the opportunity to engage in thoughtful dialogue and gain guidance from local and state health authorities regarding the best course of action beyond mid-April. We will keep students and families abreast of any and all new developments and decisions regarding the return to campus.
It is with great concern for the health and wellness of our community that we have made the decision to cancel various events, including admitted student events, the upper school concert and second grade play, through April 14. We are disappointed that we are unable to offer these programs; however, social distancing and avoidance of unnecessary travel are important in the context of this global health crisis. As such, canceling is a proactive measure that supports the well-being of all those in our community. We will continue to monitor other upcoming events and update the community on our plans for implementation or cancellation. Please note: The Admission Office plans to conduct interviews with prospective students via Skype or Zoom during this time.
The Bement campus is closed to students, visitors, events, athletic contests, informal gatherings, and use by non-Bement groups. At this time, the campus will remain open for administrative and office staff so that we can support the organization of the online distance learning plans and activities. Healthy and asymptomatic faculty and staff returning to campus after time away will complete a travel form similar to the one we will ask of all students. With regard to anyone on campus, we are following the local and state guidelines and restrictions.
While we are focused on the evolving situation, we are also trying to maintain our daily operations. If you have specific questions, please reach out via email to the following people:
Terry Shields: any boarding related questions
Kim Loughlin: any admission/enrollment-related or international student visa questions
Amie Keddy: any upper school curriculum pr programming questions
Emily Lent Hemingway: any lower school curriculum or programming questions
Jennifer Boyden: any billing or Smart Tuition questions
Dylan Korpita: any operations questions
Chris Wilson: all other questions
All afternoon programs and on-campus events are canceled until we resume our normal program on Tuesday, April 14. Alex Bartlett, Director of Athletics, is working with athletic directors and peer schools on spring season competitions and plans. Coaches for spring teams will be contacting students with ways to engage and stay prepared for the season.
Jeff Pilgrim, Director of Secondary School Counseling, continues to be ready and willing to support our students and their secondary school decision process. We hope to still host a meeting about the secondary school process on May 1 for parents as well as the secondary school admission officers luncheon and visit for students on May 7.
Our hope is that we will be able to continue forward to celebrate this very special day with our grandparents and grand friends. Invitations have been mailed and we welcome RSVP's for those who are able to plan to join us. We will of course continue to monitor conditions closely and will keep you updated if we have further changes to our calendar or plans for Grand Day.
At this point we are still planning for the summer program offerings, which include Junior Camp, Adventure Camp, a Counselor in Training Program, and Digging Into Nature at Pine Hill, to all occur as scheduled.
Unfortunately, we have decided to cancel the English Language and American Culture (ELAC) and Bement in Shanghai (BIS) summer programs.
We continue to closely monitor updates from local, state, and national officials, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and from the World Health Organization (WHO). We are also in communication with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, with peer schools, and with colleges and universities in Massachusetts.
Following travel guidelines/recommendations
We are guided by the recommendations of the CDC, WHO, and public health officials and taking extra steps as considered necessary to protect our community. The CDC continues to adjust its advisories and other countries/may be added during spring break. All community members travelling have been asked to provide us with travel dates and destinations so we are best positioned to prepare for the start of spring term. The student form to be completed by parents is available through this link.
Preventative measures on campus
We are working with our cleaning services across campus to prevent the spread of germs. We have posted signs on our main doors indicating that campus is closed and are reminding any authorized employees to wash their hands. We will not be serving lunch to staff during this time, and necessary campus staff are working on a rotational basis on site and from home when possible. We have cancelled all service provider / vendor visits to campus except for necessary maintenance and repair.
In order to ensure the health and safety of our community, we will be in touch with families about the screening process we put in place before their child is returning to campus. Students will not be permitted to return to campus until that screening process is completed and they show no signs of any illness. All students must complete the Travel Form as part of this process.
- If a student, staff, or community member associated with Bement has been positively identified with COVID-19, we will coordinate with the local and state health boards regarding school closure recommendations. Current guidance indicates closure for at least 24-48 hours to sanitize building(s) or longer as needed.
- Families will be notified using the same systems that are currently in place for snow day cancellations.
The situation with COVID-19 is fluid, and travel warnings and advisories could broaden in scope between now and the Tuesday, April 14 (Monday, April 13 for boarders) return to campus. With the possibility of additional travel restrictions, flight cancellations, and even the potential for quarantine upon re-entry in the U.S., we hope all families will make plans to ensure, to the extent possible, your student's safe and timely return to campus as school resumes.
And, please do not send students back to campus if they have flu-like symptoms or have had direct contact with anyone under investigation for or confirmed with COVID-19. If students are unable to return to campus, we will support them in keeping up with schoolwork remotely.
- What will students need to participate in online learning?
- What if my child does not have access to a device or high speed internet at their current location?
- What are the expectations for students during this time?
Students will need access to an Internet-enabled device, a reliable Internet connection, and time to complete assignments. If your family is unable to accommodate a remote learning environment for your child, please contact either Emily Lent or Amie Keddy, who will work with you to ensure that all students have access to the resources that they need.
Students will have access to a full Bement curriculum online starting on Friday, March 27. Each week’s content will go live on Google Classroom the Friday before (i.e., students can access lessons for the week of March 30-April 3 starting on Friday, March 27). Many of these lessons can be done asynchronously (at any time) and independently, without the need for materials like textbooks, which not all students will have access to. If your child is not able to access Google Classroom, please contact Ms. Keddy or Ms. Lent right away so they can can curriculum materials to you in another way!
Students should check Google Classroom a few times a week, but they do not need to be online every day during normal school hours. Teachers will check in frequently with students and parents and will be available to provide guidance, support, and answers to questions.
Students in grades K-2 have access to a variety of online tools, but they have not used Google Classroom before. Your child’s teacher will invite you to join their Google Classroom site so that you have full access to the class materials, some of which can be printed out if that is easier for you. Students in grades 3-9 are familiar with Google tools and know their usernames and passwords to log in to Google Classroom. If they need to reset their passwords, please contact Barak Blackburn, Bement’s director of technology.
- Resources and Updates on COVID-19
- Prevention of Coronavirus
- Travel Information
- Talking About COVID-19 With Children