Dear MPH Community,
In response to the unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19, the New York State Education Office, based on Governor Cuomo's executive order , issued guidance to schools yesterday regarding their scheduled spring breaks. I would like to provide context for this guidance, as well as clarity around MPH’s plans for next week’s Spring Break.
Much of the State Board of Education’s guidance is based on the reality that many children rely upon meals supplied in their schools for their main source of nutrition. Under the present circumstances, distribution of food is a priority. Many schools are also struggling to provide learning opportunities for their students because the tools and infrastructure to accommodate widespread distance learning are not in place. In light of these realities, the need for many schools to stay open through Spring Break is essential.
MPH is extremely fortunate in having not only the resources and infrastructure, but also the steady teamwork of educators, parents, and students who have pooled their ingenuity, creativity, and generosity to meet extraordinary challenges in record time. In less than two weeks, the MPH community has transformed our brick-and-mortar school into a virtual learning environment to enable our students’ academic education to continue in the midst of a pandemic. We are in good shape currently, and we will continue to adapt.
We are keenly aware that the rapid acceleration necessary to bring one part of our curriculum (academics) online has created a bit of an imbalance. An equally important part of the overall MPH curriculum — that is, the overall health and well-being that students derive from being in-person with their peers and teachers at school, as well as from being involved in daily extracurriculars — has been temporarily sidelined over the last couple of weeks. Just as we have met the challenge of physical distancing with intentional efforts to convert to distance learning, we are now moving to expand our efforts to increase opportunities for “social connection” to mitigate this imbalance. Toward this end, we will not be offering further academic instruction or support until after Spring Break. This mindful pause will give our families a chance to catch their breath, our students an opportunity to catch up if need be, and our whole community an invitation (not obligation) to connect over Spring Break in a new way.
Connection, kindness, empathy, and caring are already at the heart of the MPH community, and these are vital for everyone’s safety and well-being. During Spring Break, MPH will offer optional programming — for students and adults alike — to shift our focus and ensure we are tending to the foundational physical and psychological health of everyone in our extended MPH family, as well as caring for those in our surrounding community.
If it’s a helpful analogy, consider how the downshifting of a vehicle allows it to gain greater traction for challenges that lie in the road ahead. In essence, this concept applies to the way in which MPH plans to use Spring Break: to “downshift,” to take a “mindful pause here” (MPH!) from the academic part of our curriculum and to strengthen our core (health and well-being), developing new capacities to not simply survive, but to thrive for any and all new adventures.
Over the next couple of days, you’ll receive information about the (optional) opportunities we have in mind, all of which we believe will bring personal benefits. In the meantime, I want to remind one and all of the resources linked to our website, which can be found here .
Best to all for good health,
Dave McCusker
Head of School