Dear MPH Community,

With just a couple of weeks remaining in the academic year, I want to share a few thoughts about our summer plans at MPH, providing context and perspective that I hope you will find helpful.

Expanding on ancient wisdom, Maya Angelou, in her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , writes “ Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” I especially appreciate the last sentiment in her quote, which tempers the dichotomy of “best” and “worst.” Far be it from me to quibble with the sagacity of this poet laureate, and yet I’ll offer another iteration on this theme. 

“We will hope for the best, and we will plan for all possible contingencies.”  While this line doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, it does fairly capture the MPH mindset as we plan for the upcoming year.  

As an independent school, we will leverage our agency by taking practical steps to establish community goals for health and well-being and to determine workable strategies to ensure the best educational experience possible under myriad potential circumstances.  We will balance hope with realism, as we focus time and attention to develop plans that will allow us to be nimble, agile, and adaptable to changing circumstances. Critical thinking and creative problem solving, hallmarks of an MPH education, inspire the current efforts of two working groups tasked with developing plans in the areas of “Health and Safety Protocols” and “Teaching and Learning.” Following Commencement on June 7, and a restorative period of personal time, we will resume work in these areas, as well as in curriculum development, in preparation for the new school year.

While there is much beyond our control, we can make a choice about our attitude. We face challenges together, and we do so with a sense of calling and resolve. We are optimistic, and we are realistic. Most signs and predictions indicate that we are all in this for the long haul.  We hope, and have reason to believe, that we will be able to return for classes (on site) at MPH in the future. We also believe there will be times when distance learning is the preferred educational platform that best ensures our standards for health and well-being. We anticipate the need to transition between these modalities quickly and seamlessly during the upcoming year, and we will almost certainly be wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing, and keeping a careful eye on the data and recommendations of health experts. 

As the weeks of pandemic have turned into months, it is understandable that many of us are feeling impatient and wanting some answers in order to put an end to this long period of hardship and uncertainty. While I cannot currently provide specific answers to questions such as “When will school open again?” and “What is the plan?” (and the like), I wanted you to at least understand the mindset with which we are thinking about our contingency planning. Our intention is to communicate with all of our families by the end of July, if not sooner, about our more-specific approach to reopening school in the fall.

The circumstances in the coming weeks and months will change. Our commitment to the health, well-being, and excellent education of our students will not. I am (and we are) grateful for your partnership and for your trust in us as we forge the way forward together.

Finally, as so many heroes in our country (and around the world) today demonstrate great courage and selflessness in a pitched battle with the COVID-19 virus, this year’s Memorial Day holiday takes on extra significance as we pay tribute to members of the armed forces who have made the greatest sacrifice to our country during wartime.

Best wishes for good health and peace,
Dave McCusker
Head of School