I truly hope this finds each of you well.
It will come as a surprise to no one, I suspect, that the Conference leadership has been in conversation about the status of our week together in June. I’m writing today to let you know where we are right now, and what the next steps will be.
The Northfield Mount-Hermon School, along with institutions across the country, has been adjusting its responses to the pandemic over the past weeks. Last Tuesday, the school announced that it was cancelling all on-campus classes through the end of the spring semester. The School has not cancelled plans to host Commencement on May 24, and will make a decision about that in early May. Similarly, the school has not announced any changes to its summer schedule, including our Conference beginning June 20.
As you know, the situation is evolving rapidly, and it is difficult to predict with any precision what things will look like in June. As a result, the Board has decided to delay the beginning of registration for the Conference until May 1.
That said, I want to be perfectly honest with you all.
the wide age-range within our community;
our geographic diversity, including many who have to cross an international border to attend;
the fact that our way of being together at the Conference doesn’t, shall we say, conform to the norms of social distancing, and;
that the goal of “flattening the curve” is to prolong the duration of the outbreak at a lower peak level;
it is at this time difficult to see how we could safely gather eleven weeks from now.
And we won’t gather if it is not safe for all of us to do so.
If this global event has taught me anything, it’s that the future is not certain. So we will wait though April, and remain in contact with the school, and see where we are then.
In the meantime, it has been so wonderful to see the Northfield e-group begin to explore opportunities to connect digitally while maintaining a safe distance from each other. There are powerful tools out there, and many creative souls whose skills with those tools are growing literally by the hour.
Should we become unable to hold the conference on campus this June, we are already working on connecting our community in meaningful ways during Northfield Week in June. We’ll have more to communicate about this next month should we end up going in that direction.
So, my beloved Northfield friends, I have to say that while I don’t know what the immediate future will bring, I remain wholeheartedly confident that our community and Conference will find our way forward. Someone smart once said “The only way out is through.” We will come out the other side of this with new stories and new songs and new skills, through the spirit of love, laughter and light that has been our way for over 125 years. That much I do know.