At This Point, It Has All Been Said

Director Vince Durnan shares a reminder of how each decision impacts the USN community and appreciation for those participating in the Vanderbilt COVID-19 study and following guidelines to keep USN's numbers low.
But the urgency of the moment leaves me eager to reiterate. Here comes our brief Thanksgiving hiatus, and it feels, at long last, like an end of semester exam. What we've been able to accomplish in the quest to preserve USN happening in-person continues to amaze me. Maybe you too. What's not being done in the wider community, where even mask-wearing adherence barely reaches 50% in Tennessee, amazes me in the other direction. Next week we’re going to part company for a few days, and those two worlds, depending on our household choices, may well collide.
This message is meant for two audiences. The first, however wildly optimistic this may be, is the group who've tuned out the community-health-first messages that we've been sharing all along. And the second is the group who've been wondering if anyone appreciates all they've been doing to mitigate risk and keep us all healthy. Over the last few months, it sure feels to me that the gulf between those groups has diminished, partly as the reality of COVID-19's threat grows more evident and partly as appreciation for us being together at school grows and deepens.
To that first bunch, and I’m presuming it’s a small segment, please understand that the decisions of a few families, of yours in particular, can determine the availability of education for scores and scores of others. And once that shoe drops, no amount of regret or remorse can undo what’s been done. That’s one of the great unfairnesses of this virus—the element of collateral damage via contact tracing, for starters. The good news is that staying safe boils down to a shortlist of commitments—each of which can easily be applied to situations you may confront next week and all of which loom more important in light of national trends. You have all the answers to this test in advance.
And to the second group, presumably far more numerous, stay strong! What you're doing (and not doing) is keeping us open. Of course, everything could change, and perhaps in ways beyond our control, but our tracker numbers have been what they've been because of you. Our High School student testing, planned to be followed by MS student testing, is working and providing invaluable insights thanks to you. Your concern for others continues to shine through as we generate data that help point the way forward for USN and schools in general.
There could not be a worse time for a case of COVID-19 fatigue. One thing we’ve seen is that once elevated, case numbers take weeks to subside, and what’s called for now is sustained effort. Where you go, who you’re with, how you get there, and what you do when you arrive all matter. The CDC could not be more explicit in its guidelines. To borrow a quip from Peabody Demonstration School alumnus Jack May '47, who loves quoting Sherlock Holmes, as said to Watson, "You know my methods. Apply them, and it will be instructive to compare results."
We know what to do, and we have every reason to look out for one another as we look out for our own families. If you’re in a tricky circumstance, by all means reach out — and don't worry about starting with me. Let’s be careful out there. May we find reasons aplenty to give thanks, even in the midst of it all, and among those may we find reason to be thankful for this uncommon, hardworking, pretty darned dedicated community at University School of Nashville.
In that spirit of gratitude, and starting to look toward December,
Vince Durnan
    • Director Vince Durnan does the Turkey Trot with the 13 Year Club on the Edgehill stairs.

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