Dear Parents and Students,
During the course of the COVID pandemic, you have patiently observed the health and safety policies put in place to keep everyone in our community safe. With Christmas just around the corner, I want to take this opportunity to thank you once again for your generous spirit in keeping the health of all of us and our families in mind as we navigate this stage of the pandemic.
Some of you have written to me in the hopes that we might revise our current indoor masking requirement in light of recent legal actions in the state of Missouri. Some of you have also raised the concern about the impact of masking on mental health.
I have kept these concerns in my prayers over the last few days and consulted with local infectious disease experts, other heads of school, and our Health, Safety, and Security Committee for advice. Given the urging of health professionals not to eliminate current mitigation strategies until the approaching omicron wave has passed, I have decided with Abbot Gregory’s full support to maintain our current on-campus indoor masking policy for the present time.
Other important factors that influenced my decision include the reduced space available for social distancing due to the temporary closure of the Junior School building for renovations, the presence in our community of children and adults with compromised immune systems, and, most importantly, the urgings of our faith to make sacrifices for the sake of the common good. If we cannot follow Christ in dying to self in this small way, then we cannot, as a community, continue to lay claim to our Catholic Benedictine identity.
In order to promote mental wellbeing in our community, I will be working with our faculty, staff, and students to identify additional opportunities to rest, relax, and connect with one another. In addition, the Student Council is currently working on a way to sell certain snacks and drinks during the school day, and the mothers continue to find ways to bring joy into the building through decorations in the senior lounge, donuts during exams, brunches on professional days, and even regular visits of our favorite canine visitor, Lucy.
Like you, my colleagues and I long for the day when we can lay aside all pandemic protocols and fully resume a normal life. With your support and compassion for one another, we will continue to move towards that goal together. The school’s administration will continue to reassess the masking policy in light of the best research available to us, make preparations for the day when masks will cease to be required, and implement a mask-optional policy as soon as circumstances are right.
Thank you in advance for making this small sacrifice to help protect the most vulnerable in our Priory community.
Wishing you all a blessed Christmas,
Father Cuthbert Elliott, O.S.B., '02