We all have been traumatized by the educational implications of this pandemic– especially for children who need unique and effective school experiences. One of our opening professional development sessions is entitled “Trauma Aware Communities.” In that training, we have discussed and learned why it is important: to listen to each other, to harness empathy for one another, to question whether one’s steadfast viewpoints are any better than anyone else’s opinions, and to accept that which we cannot change. This has become an essential skill as we navigate the many opinions and emotions sparked by the pandemic and our school reopening plan.

A lot of this is particularly challenging for Carroll parents who have at one time realized that “school doesn’t work for my kid” and then arrived at Carroll to realize that school can work for their child. Now we are hearing “remote just doesn’t work for my kid” and our expectation is that Carroll’s significantly improved remote model can work effectively for children.

I am so frustrated to end my 35 years as a head of an independent school in this pandemic environment. Current conditions make me so incredibly sad. I am devastated by our inability to be the best version of Carroll School. Yet, our faculty is working so hard to become even more expert at helping our students. The amount of professional development work they took on this summer is magnificent. So many of us have dedicated our careers to making this an incredibly effective school and likewise our community has come to expect extraordinary student outcomes. Can we deliver the same program in the age of Covid?

Of course not. But we can deliver an exceptional education nonetheless. These teachers and tutors won’t allow it to be anything less than outstanding.

Yet we– parents, students, teachers, tutors, trustees, staff, administration– all share a desire for the virus to leave us alone and let us get back to the work of educating these children in their academic, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

A school alone cannot make everything “all better.” Carroll will not pretend that the best course of action is to throw kids back into classes, paying only lip service to health and safety mitigations. Protecting the health of our community while they are at school is a massive, complex task. Carroll is taking that responsibility very seriously. That is why we are test-driving on-campus realities before committing to more. We are taking care of kids as best we can, given what we can control.