Headmaster's Thoughts: January 2022

Another spin around the Sun. Another year.
Is it the eternal optimistic nature of our species that we expect next year to be better? Because I think most of us do. We really look forward to getting over the pandemic, seeing each other’s faces without covering, socializing together. And if we adults have had a hard time of it over the past two years, how much worse has it been for our children? The time spent in school is the most critical time to develop the skills of understanding how to get on with peers, how to share, how to be a member of a community. For too many children, that avenue of progress had a major break. They were homebound. Should they have been in school? I think so. 

I am proud that we opened as much as we could, that our teachers taught every day on a regular schedule. Even now, we are one of the few schools that still interview prospective applicants in person.  It is almost back to normal (except for the masks). Just as we endeavored to offer five day a week classes whenever we could, we will continue to do so. Always! 
Let us agree that in a time of extraordinary challenges, we should try to hold to a path of common sense. There will be spikes, and new medications, but we are fortunate to have options that we did not have, so I should state my position. I am a strong advocate for vaccines. The COVID vaccines are a scientific miracle.  And yet some, who had no real medical expertise in the least, rejected them when they came out, and still do. There was similarly a push to close schools. There still is. Combine those two beliefs and you have young people who will have lost years of social-development education. One of my daughters is a professor at Queens College, which is part of the City University of New York. Some of her students have not been on campus for well over a year and a half and are still not back yet. Not what most of us would consider a college experience. This is unacceptable because if everyone at the college were vaccinated, then classes, in some in-person form, could resume.
As a school, we have demanded vaccinations of our students and staff. Why should this demand be limited to schools? If you want to work alongside others, you owe it to them to protect them by simply getting vaccinated. Is that such an extreme position? How can we persuade the unvaccinated to change course? No one likes mandates, and, maybe, in normal times I would be among those who protested. But these are not normal times, and the epidemic will take its toll on innocent people if some sort of mandate is not given.
We are getting there.  I agree with the Mayor that all school employees should be vaccinated, whether in private or public schools. I suspect that in this, I may be in disagreement with some other private school heads who do not believe that mandates should apply to them. Sorry, but in this case, I believe they should. We have to get back to a more normal spin around the sun. We have to have a better year. We need our population to be vaccinated. 
I wish you all a happy New Year. I fear there will be setbacks ahead but also bright days too. In the end, I am optimistic. May I wish that your children learn, in this sun spin cycle, to enjoy being together, to understand community, and to grow as warm, compassionate people. And, as I always advise…hug them close!
Ronald P. Stewart
York Prep