Moving forward, one day at a time
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you so much to everyone who sent well wishes while I was out with COVID last week. I truly appreciate your words of encouragement, and I am so grateful for your support. Like so many other people who have contracted COVID recently, my symptoms were relatively mild, and after a few days of rest, I’m gradually getting back into the swing of my routine
After two years of discussion and planning around the pandemic, temperature readings at morning drop-off, daily check-in meetings with Nurse Monica, Nurse Penny, and Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications Edmund Tijerina, weekly Safety Committee meetings, regular Medical Advisory Committee meetings, and ongoing Zoom calls with heads in San Antonio, across the Southwest and around the country, it felt a little surreal when the dark lines appeared on my at home COVID test. I knew my time would come eventually and I kind of had an inkling last Wednesday night, but seeing the irrefutable proof left me a little gobsmacked.
The time at home offered an opportunity to look back at pre-COVID times. At Keystone, we began planning for different scenarios in January of 2020. I marveled and continue to be amazed at how everyone in the Keystone community has worked incredibly hard to keep school going and maintain as much normalcy as possible in spite of the circumstances.
Whether they were sitting in front of a screen or attending school in person, students participated in classes and extracurricular activities, contributed to discussions, and put forth their best effort while grappling with the first pandemic since 1918. They faced the challenges of distance learning and missed the in-person companionship of their classmates. The past few weeks brought back some of these hardships to our community. I recall when so many students were out last month, one student almost in tears said to me, “I miss my friends.”
Teachers and staff members have shown resilience and creativity beyond what perhaps any of us could have ever imagined. Remarkably, Keystone offered high-quality in person instruction, distance learning, and a hybrid schedule simultaneously in the 2020-2021 school year; this year, teachers demonstrated extraordinary compassion and flexibility when students missed class so they would not fall behind. In addition, administrators and staff members jumped in to cover classes, fill roles when colleagues tested positive, and cover gaps wherever they occurred.
Repeatedly, parents exhibited care and concern for others, and in the process enabled school to feel as close to normal as possible. Whether it was our amazing PTO providing students treats during exams or on holidays or showing love for the faculty/staff on so many occasions, or other parents creating a special Diwali celebration or coming to sporting events or theater productions, you admirably modeled for your children how people support one another during difficult times.
So, where do we stand at the end of February 2022? After an initial spike in January, the number of positive cases on campus has steadily decreased dramatically. We share your joy when our daily updates show very few or even zero new cases. In the San Antonio area, we see a trend of fewer people coming down with Covid and far fewer people getting very sick with it. These are all very good signs.
This spring, we plan on welcoming parents back on campus for more events. Lower School Head Ms. Matthews has exciting plans for student-parent picnics. Our fundraiser on March 25 – the Keystone Food & Drink Festival – will be the first time in two years that all parents can be back on campus and we have designed a celebratory get together where people can revel in one another’s company. In addition, we are looking at other ways to bring people together; for example, the Lower School is holding once-a-month Saturday morning local hikes for families to spend time with each other safely.
It’s great to finally start to come together again, because the past two years have definitely taken a toll on our sense of belonging. While our COVID protocols have protected our school against wide outbreaks, they have hurt one of Keystone’s cherished values, the close knit community. Especially for people who have joined our school within the past two years, there’s no memory of what Keystone was like before the pandemic, and we fear some families may have not fully felt included. One of our greatest assets, our devotion to being science and research based, has presented one of our most vexing dilemmas, how to create a sense of closeness when people cannot be together face to face. For the past two years, we have tried to stay connected while remaining safely apart.
Now as we appear to exit this surge in the final quarter of the 2021-2022 school year, we hope to begin rebuilding the sense of togetherness that has characterized Keystone for more than 70 years. We look forward to seeing you and being with you in the days and weeks to come.
In the meantime, please take a moment to reflect on how far we have come over the past two years. Thank you for all you have done along the way to get us to this point where moving forward transforms from a dream to a reality.