As part of the Parents Association General Meeting on Thursday, February 24, Associate Head of School Darren Burns provided a brief COVID-19 policy update and Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Klarissa Karosen spoke about the School’s latest DEIB initiatives.
To view a recording of the meeting, please click here.
Mr. Burns noted that it is Day 700 in the COVID-19 pandemic, and he is proud of the way the MBS community has responded. The last all-School testing cycle in January showed a 100 percent reduction in cases over the prior month, and MBS suspended its weekly testing of athletes a week early.
He said that MBS will provide an update on its masking policy on Friday, March 4 in advance of the Governor’s release of the mask mandate on Monday, March 7. The School is cautiously optimistic that we are transitioning to a point where we coexist alongside COVID-19 and return to a pre-pandemic footing that normalizes the lives of our children.
Mr. Burns added that students are now eating in the Dining Hall again on a rotating basis by grade level, and everyone is excited to see a gradual return to normalcy. “This community has been great about adapting to (the pandemic safety protocols),” said Mr. Burns. “They’ve owned it, and I’m grateful for that.”
Mrs. Karosen spoke about how her position as Director of DEIB has evolved and how the DEIB Office has grown. She began by introducing Michael McGrann, the Coordinator of Middle School DIB Initiatives, as well as A’Dorian Murray-Thomas, the Associate Director of DEIB.
She noted that a pillar of the 2021-2026 Strategic Plan is dedicated to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging and includes recommendations put forth by the Racial Justice Task Force. She emphasized the importance of engaging in authentic DEIB work and addressing institutional changes that need to happen for MBS to live up to its values and mission.
Mrs. Karosen said that it’s important for the School to embrace a broad definition of diversity. “We’re not just talking about race when we talk about diversity,” she said. “The belonging piece of DEIB is really important for us to consider. We want all students to feel that they are valued members of this community.”
She also presented an overview of initiatives that are currently taking place, highlighting a number of areas including: an examination of the School’s code of conduct and policies, faculty and staff hiring and retention, investing resources into DEIB initiatives, and curricular and co-curricular updates. She added that the pandemic has made it challenging to engage in some of the community-building aspects of DEIB work, but she is looking forward to more in-person activities this spring.