As the Millbrook School community looks forward to reconvening in person on January 22, students and faculty plan to practice the same health and safety protocols that kept the campus safely virus-free for the fall term. While certainly not ideal, maintaining a closed campus to preserve “the bubble” had some unintended positive consequences which may again manifest in the upcoming six-week session before spring break.
Dan Skoglund, assistant head for student life, and JJ Morrissey, assistant dean of students, credit the entire Millbrook community with the success of the fall term. A closed campus made for a lot of togetherness and “It was a challenging fall for everyone,” said Mr. Skoglund, “I’m proud of the student body for sticking with it.” By approaching the fall term with patience and optimism, the community truly came together. “We had to be creative to be together,” said Mr. Morrissey, “and that helped build a student body culture that, as one, we can push through this.”
Mr. Skoglund credits the prefects with being “true partners and for constantly trying new things” to keep students connected and having fun. Some Millbrook traditions were especially helpful in normalizing the masked and socially distant semester. Theatre and music performances and even assemblies, eventually broadcast from the chapel, “helped remind students what they were doing here,” said Mr. Morrissey, “and that there was joy and a desire to be together.”
Aside from success in protecting the campus from the Covid pandemic, students stayed healthier and there was a drop in absenteeism. Jarratt Clarke, assistant head for academics, reported a “noticeable uptick in grades from prior years.” With competition temporarily off the table, athletes focused on individual skills and team building. Dorm heads noticed that with all residents on campus, school spirit was stronger.
If the first semester was a marathon, the first part of the second semester will be a sprint. There are only six weeks of classes before spring break so students and faculty will hit the ground running. With lessons learned from the fall semester, “We are more comfortable managing Millbrook in the Covid era,” said Mr. Skoglund.