This Year Is Different

Who would have predicted, one year ago, that we would be amid a world-wide pandemic, hearing reports of over 200,000 deaths in the United States alone due to COVID-19? Social distancing, quarantining, contact tracing, immunocompromised, comorbidity, asymptomatic, face shields, PPE, and Zoom bombing were not on our minds. Wearing a face covering has become an essential accessory and, shockingly, also politicized. Those infected and affected disproportionately by the virus are our poor, elderly, essential workers, and people of color. We continue to be reminded that Black lives are disregarded, disrespected, and destroyed by the system that’s supposed to protect us. Black lives matter. Our Black alumni have been voicing their painful experiences from their time as Friends Select students; we support them as they ask what we are doing to stop contributing to the same systemic racism that plagues our country today. 

Given this time of great pain and uncertainty, I am buoyed by our Quaker values which have been informed by historical injustice and inequity. They charge us to prepare young people in our care to correct them. They implore us to combat racism; to look out for those who can’t look out for themselves; to work harder to foster a sense of community while physically distancing, and be open even more to continuing revelation together as we travel through these uncharted waters. Thank you, administrative council, board of trustees, and teachers for meeting throughout the summer to plan and discuss what this school year might look like for Friends Select. It is a heavy lift. 

Returning to Friends Select, our health and safety plan for this year, is a work in progress, and we continue to update it with the latest information. We know for sure that this school year will be different, and we are prepared to pivot in a moment's notice. I can’t think of any other time during my tenure as an educator where we have been asked to weigh our purpose versus our feelings on the proverbial scale. Providing a safe working and learning environment is our highest priority, followed by fulfilling our mission as a Quaker school and the desire to continue to foster a strong sense of community where relationships develop and thrive. 

I gain comfort knowing Friends Select, the school we know and love, has withstood previous pandemics and social unrest. Together, in community, we can again. This is the time to be courageous and embrace who we are.