January 6, 2022

Dear Harbor Families,

The past few letters I’ve written have been focused on health and safety logistics, detailing our back to school testing regimen (results from yesterday's in-school testing were all negative, by the way!), clarifying quarantine guidelines, and reinforcing safety protocols. In this new (well, not so new anymore!) age we live in, this is an incredibly important aspect of my role, and one that I never expected to gain expertise in when I began my career in education 25 years ago!

Details, planning, and logistics aside, what we are collectively doing at Harbor, day in and day out, is truly emotional work. It has to be - we’re talking about protecting and educating our kids. I thought that as we begin a new year in the midst of the Omicron variant, it might be a good time to name and recognize some of the emotions that we may be experiencing. It’s what we do with the students too, to help them to understand and manage their emotional experiences. We teach the students that emotions are natural and need not be judged, and that they have the ability to use strategies to manage them. Let’s remind ourselves that that applies to adult emotions as well!

Fear. I continue to remind myself that we are working within a completely different landscape with the virus than last year. Levels of risk can be assessed as an equation with two factors - the likelihood of something happening and the severity of that occurrence. Data continues to reinforce that even as the rates soar, the Omicron variant is much less virulent. We may know that logically, and at the same time, emotionally, residual feelings of fear and anxiety are inevitable in the current environment, especially given everything we’ve been through.

Exhaustion. I’m not sure if this is the best word, since life always presents new challenges - and adapting to new circumstances is a part of being human. However, I think it’s fair to say that the twists and turns of the variants of the virus have been emotionally tiring. As much as we might place intention on self-care and rest, the ongoing decision-making, whether it be determining the best masks for our kids or who to gather with - or not - during the holidays, is exhausting.

Humility. As cautious as we are, the Omicron variant is reminding us that there is still much that is beyond our control. This Washington Post article reminds us that even with very conservative practices, some of us may still find ourselves with an unexpected positive result. The ability to respond with humility and recognize that there is no shame or stigma if a positive case occurs, is important for ourselves and for our community, especially at this time.

Passion. Like I said earlier, our work at Harbor is all about the children. Supporting them, caring for them, helping them grow, and teaching them to develop skills to manage their own uncertainties in their lives and those that will come in the future. Education is passionate work, whether or not in a pandemic. I believe I can speak for every one of us - parents, teachers, administrators, and Board members - that our passion for Harbor and our mission is palpable. For me at least, it overwhelms and puts in perspective the many emotions that can occur simultaneously.

Confidence. I’m not sure I would have listed this in 2020, but given all that we have been through as a school, I have a strong sense of pride in what we’ve accomplished and a high level of confidence that we can manage whatever may come our way next. This is because of the passion and commitment of every member of this community - the parents for working so closely with us, the Board for their unwavering support, and the teachers - our incredible teachers - for their daily dedication and commitment to everything we must to do keep our kids safe and to provide them with the education they deserve.

I wish all of us a 2022 full of passion and connection - and with the strength of the Harbor community, the knowledge that our kids will continue to grow and thrive throughout the year!


Leah Musico

Head of School

Harbor School