Principals Share and Pray as School Considers Mask Options

February 25, 2022 / Andrea Wenger

As schools in the community and across the country wrestle with how to handle lifting of mask mandates, our principals shared comments and a prayer in chapel on Friday, February 25, 2022. Watch a video of the comments and prayer, shared by Maria Archer, K-8 principal, and Justin King, high school principal, or read below.

We want to talk a bit about our school community’s journey with mask use and other COVID mitigation strategies.

First, we want to brag on this community. You all have done an incredible job of honoring each other and adjusting to school life in the pandemic. Thank you! Due to your diligence and cooperation, there is not one COVID case that has been traced to exposure in our school classrooms!

You are likely aware of discussions in the region, state and nationally about mask mandates. Even today, the CDC will announce updated guidelines. Even WE have to admit, this exhausts us. Many people wonder, when will EMS lift its mask requirements?

We want you to know that EMS leaders are spending many hours on this issue. We have been reading expert advice, talking with our medical advisory team — made up of EMS parent healthcare professionals. We have been gathering input from parents and teachers and other staff members.

We all long for a return to normal life.

The reality is that we need to learn to live in a world where viruses such as Covid come and go. Right now, we are beginning to see Covid “go,” yet there may be waves where incidences return and later drop. This “living with Covid”, which will continue to make variants, is a turning point from a pandemic, to an “endemic”…

We are a caring community. We all want what is best for ourselves and each other, even if we don’t always agree on HOW to get there.

It’s important to note that Covid is not “over” in our local community, though numbers are dropping quickly!

Some area schools have made masks optional. So far, numbers in those communities continue to drop with the local rate. That is good news.

EMS leadership will decide soon on a date when we will go mask optional.

Once the date is announced, we can all prepare as teachers, students, staff. Some people may choose to still wear masks. Some may not. Some may wear them sometimes. Others, never…

“Mask optional” is not the same as “mask free” We anticipate that there may be times when students will be asked to wear masks. For example, if you test positive for covid, and return on day 6, you would still need to wear a mask. There are other examples we could list but won’t here. You’ll hear more about that when we make an announcement about our “mask optional” date.

The rest of chapel today will include prayer and quiet time. We are going to share a prayer that we invite you to join us in… a prayer for our community as we move into a new stage in living with Covid as a community of caring. After the prayer, you’ll hear some instrumental music and see images on the screen. Use this time to pray or rest or reflect. After the song and images end, you are dismissed. If you’d like to stay longer in your seat and rest until the bell, please do. If you’d like to talk to Ms. Katz, Ms. Trotter, or a teacher or administrator, please seek us out. We want to know your concerns and questions.

Join us now in prayer

Justin: Lord God, we come to you this morning as a community that is grateful.

Maria: We are grateful for the way we have worked together in the past two years to keep Covid cases to a minimum in our community.

Justin: We are grateful for the students, teachers, staff, and parents who we have gone through this traumatic time together, for the way that our community has supported and will continue to support one another. We aren’t perfect, but this makes us different, a good kind of different, from other school communities.

Maria: We also come to you this morning acknowledging the heavy toll of anxiety and depression, fear, and loss of our “normal” that this pandemic has brought.

Justin: Jesus we do not have you here in person to physically calm the wind and the waves, but we believe your spirit exists in each of us in this room and in each person around the world. Help us see that holy spirit in each other.

Maria: We recognize, God, that we are humans who see the world from various perspectives. We recognize that we won’t all agree on what is the right next step for our school or our neighbors.

Justin: We ask, God, that we would have patience with each other. We ask for understanding and big hearts and respect. We don’t need to think in unison, but we pray we can live in harmony.

Maria: We know, God, that we can “agree to disagree” and still be in community, and laugh and have fun and show care for each other.

Justin: …. 1 Corinthians 13:13… Three things will last forever- faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.

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