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Brendan Largay, Head of School

The Dimmer Switch

The primary analogy we have been working with throughout the pandemic is the dimmer switch. From the earliest days of navigating the pandemic, we realized that approaching this community safety effort through the binary frame of absolute statements of ‘on’ or ‘off’ was not going to work. Be it in school or out. All programs or no programs. All PPE or none. As we have experienced over the past two years, a singular ‘this’ or ‘that’ approach to pandemic management to make onsite education possible would not have been successful.

Instead, our approach has been cautiously calibrated–thoughtfully turning our controls while making room for two critical components—responsiveness and nimbleness. Some weeks, we experience the brightness of everyone on campus, masks are optional outdoors, and grades play together at recess and during athletics. Other weeks have needed to be darker with more precautions: instruction goes remote or we’re in school and masks are worn at all times, physical distance is maintained, and students learn only in their cohorts.

The virus’s behavior has been too dynamic for a simple on-off switch. We have needed to level set at nearly every moment, and the responsiveness of the dimmer has been invaluable. A responsive model that aims to keep up with and make distinctions among the ever-changing directives from federal, state, and local governments has been critical. Responsiveness also allows the school to have latitude in deciding when more restrictions need to be in place, even as we move toward a return to ‘normal.’ That’s the thing about dimmer switches—we can use them to provide the optimal amount of illumination for any given moment.

The dimmer switch notion highlights another dimension of our response—nimbleness. The nimbleness of the COVID Response Team, and subsequently, of the faculty, student, and parent body, has been inspiring. I know you already know this, dear reader, but with every decision made outside of our walls, there has been a swift response to adjust, accommodate, and alter our plans to keep students safe, healthy, and learning. The team has met more times than I care to count with patience, energy, and always with our school’s mission at the core of their decision-making process, and with the knowledge that tomorrow may bring a new challenge.

So, as we head into the break, we are grateful for the chance to catch our breath on the decision-making front, but mindful, always, that this pandemic may throw something new at us. We know, too, that the folks with their hands on the dimmer switch will be ready to make the necessary adjustments. Hopefully, brighter days lie ahead.

Have a healthy and joyful February break!

Giving Thanks

On Tuesday, we will gather for our annual Thanksgiving assembly—an opportunity to express gratitude as a community.

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