Letter to Families: Our Good Fortune
A message from Matt Allio
Dear Trinity Families,
I hope your family is healthy and safe from the devastating wildfires.
It’s August 19 and school is one week away.
For a moment, if we can, I ask us to step back, survey the landscape, and take in the broader horizon. I mean really step back. For me, that translates into stepping back from the unavoidable minutia, sometimes myopic, yet nevertheless essential views of Trinity School – from touchless water faucets to approved HVAC air filters to studies on how optimize screen time for students to understanding the continuum of anxiety of students, parents, faculty and staff to being on campus – and view Trinity’s position in the wider world. Or, said differently, the long game.
Over the summer, I’ve reflected upon both Covid – our local and national response to the pandemic, and how it might impact our students – and the concept of privilege and my good fortune. Initially, this stemmed from the profound civil unrest that we faced, and continue to face, as a country. Given my role at an Episcopal school with deep roots in social advocacy, it felt natural for me to think seriously about this – and to wonder how we might have important conversations with our students about the world around us. We’ve had some of those initial conversations over the past week at our Summer Institute for faculty and staff.
But then the thoughts expanded. Beyond the civil unrest, I’ve been mindful of how very fortunate we are as a school so many times this summer. Together with the administrative team, we’ve made detailed lists of absolutely everything we might need to promote health and safety on campus. It includes large infrastructure items like updated HVAC systems, sensors for every sink, so that students don’t have to touch anything when they wash their hands, and hand sanitizing stations across both of our campuses. It also includes a seemingly endless catalog of smaller items from face shields, to gloves, signage, and clear masks for teachers so that young students can see their mouths for better communication. The logistics have been, at times, overwhelming. Nevertheless, we are well-resourced to meet those logistical challenges – and have. And then we were able to shift, on a moment’s notice, from a logistics focus to people focus when the watch list was announced or when we were informed of a positive Covid-19 diagnosis on our campus.
Caring for students necessitates this kind of unflinching vigilance and flexibility, and yet, it also reminds me of Trinity’s good fortune relative to many. Our families pay tuition and are generous with our school. Thousands of schools across the country would undertake just this kind of preparation, but their budgets don’t allow for it. As much as distance learning can be a challenge for all of us, we are able to provide iPads to every student in Kindergarten to Grade 5, and to help ensure that each student has access to a stable internet connection. Furthemore, we are able to provide distance learning of the highest quality due to our ability to be highly resourced with training and materials for faculty and staff – who work with resolve, flexibility and creativity.
We also wrestled, as related, when our full school in-person opening was fully on table, whether to require a two-week quarantine before the school year starts. When I considered this, I quickly realized given the diversity of our school community, that simply isn’t possible. Some parents are first responders who need to be on the front lines, fighting the pandemic, and some parents work several jobs in service of their families – and not at companies that allow them to work from home. Every family is unique, and while mandating quarantine might seem like a straightforward solution, we find that it is anything but.
I suspect we will continue to reflect on how we as a community give thanks for all that’s possible, while also remembering how relatively fortunate we are. I hope that in our conversations with students across both campuses, we can continue important conversations around social advocacy and acting in service of others. And that we can continue to find ways, through our actions, to help those who are less fortunate. This year, and every year.
Most of all, I am grateful for all of you and what you bring to our community: a shared interest in progress, in learning, and in wanting the best for each and every one of our students.