New Year Conference Launches with COVID Restrictions

Dawn Graber, interim director of Mennonite Education Agency, shares with the Eastern Mennonite School Fall Conference.
Dawn Graber, interim director of Mennonite Education Agency, shares with the Eastern Mennonite School Fall Conference.

Eastern Mennonite School launched the new year for K-12 teachers, faculty and staff with their annual Fall Conference wearing masks and meeting in multiple rooms, physically distanced, or outside. The bulk of the time was focused on professional development and in classrooms, preparing for in-person learning as long as it is safe, and preparing for distance learning if and when needed.

The week-long conference began with employees gathered in three spaces physically — the campus’ Lower Building multi-purpose room, and Upper Building dining hall and Commons. Others joined by Zoom from home offices.

Dawn Graber, interim director of Mennonite Education Agency, joined by Zoom from her home office in Sarasota, Florida, to offer words of encouragement and affirmation, followed by a prayer of blessing, the first morning.

“You may feel as if you’re beginning the year in a fog,” she acknowledged. Because of this fall’s unique COVID reality, “You have a new opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus this fall in your community,” Graber said.

Recognizing the unique details involved in welcoming students to school in person with safety measures in place, she said, “You have a myriad of earthly tasks to take care of before the students arrive.”

The school will open Tues., August 25, welcoming 350 students K-12 in two buildings, wearing face coverings inside, working at safe distances and instituting unique practices for all school activities, including lunch, daily chapel services, music learning and more.

The future with education and Covid is foggy, Graber said. “God knows your needs and promises to give your wisdom and strength. You are in a community of colleagues who care. Let them be your fog lights when you need help seeing the next step.”

Read updates about the new school year at the COVID Announcements page.

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