Harper and Carter Short in the science roomDr. Courtney Herring, pediatrician and member of MPA’s COVID-19 Community Advisory Group, and her children, Carter (grade 6) and Harper (grade 5) share how their experience is going so far this fall at MPA.

How is MPA making sure you’re safe at school?

Harper: MPA has been and always will be my favorite school. They have spent a lot of time on making sure everyone is six feet apart, wearing a mask, and sanitizing their hands. MPA has kept me educated and safe.

How is MPA incorporating the important tasks of building community and maintaining joy while still ensuring the safety of all constituents?

Dr. Herring: The task of re-opening any school during a population health crisis is daunting. The administration and staff at MPA worked tirelessly to build-in safety provisions with logistical planning required to allow our children to return to the classroom. Whereas safety is first, social development and academic delivery should not be demoted to second-level importance. MPA understood these principles and picked up the gauntlet in a way that makes all of us should proud to be part of our “Dream Big. Do Right.” family. By not losing focus, our students have been re-engaged and families supported while relationships continue to be built through in-person and virtual platforms.

Understanding that adaptability is crucial with a future tethered by ongoing societal diligence to mitigate this pandemic, I have confidence that MPA will continue to provide transparent communication, progressive accountability, and, above all else, put our children first. Also, I believe that MPA will persist in their mission to promote inclusivity, engagement, and outreach by leaning-in to its existing most remarkable resources: staff and students.

How is MPA helping you make and maintain friendships through hybrid learning?

Carter: MPA is doing a great job of balancing keeping students safe and letting us have time to be with our friends. For example, when we are in virtual learning, our teachers make sure to give us an opportunity to go into breakout rooms on Zoom and just chat. Right away in the first week of school, I made new friends. School is supposed to be a place of education and also fun. MPA is doing a great job of maintaining that through a difficult time.

What can you share about Carter and Harper’s experience in virtual school last spring?

Dr. Herring: In our home, last spring’s virtual school was an opportunity to empower children from a different frame of reference. MPA committed to bringing a platform of accessibility, engagement, and structure that had focused learning yet situational positioning to allow for mediated creativity simultaneously. With the unexpected expedience required to reveal a virtual platform in the winter/spring of 2020, the MPA staff took on the burden to fulfill the needs of our children while under remarkable constraints. While we all as families were under so many external stressors during this time, the ability to have my children continue their education was not one of them. Carter and Harper were engaged, received directed learning, and obtained opportunities for resourceful guidance—thank you for the cooking lessons!—while held responsible for their participation.
Was it what we envisioned for our children when we started back in the fall of 2019? No. Will I be forever grateful to MPA for putting in action their commitment to provide resources for our children no matter the situation? You betcha.

How are your teachers ensuring that your learning continues through all the challenges of COVID-19?

Harper: My teachers are doing a great job of checking in and seeing if we have any questions. Now that we’re doing both virtual and in-school learning, there are sometimes a lot of questions, but the teachers are being patient and encouraging us to persevere in these hard times.

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