A transcript from the video above is located below:

Greetings, Providence Academy. We the faculty and staff are so excited to welcome your family next week. This is the school’s twentieth year. As we have all been bustling about making preparations, Mr. Olson said, the other day, “It feels like year one again!” This is true, about the hard work and enthusiasm; and in the sense that we will be doing many things for the first time. Our joint commitment is: we are proud to be putting children first. Our shared attitude is: let’s do this.

Most of the newness of a student’s experience will be about mitigating the risk of coronavirus exposure. We know that COVID-19 presents low risk to children. Yet all occurrences of cases in our community will have a community impact because of public health policies. We at PA will attend to public health guidelines, and will do so both in mitigating risk of exposure, and in the event of cases of COVID in our community. You will be alerted if and when cases arise, and we will follow protocols of contact tracing, quarantining, etc. There are of course scenarios in which any of our alternative school plans may be triggered. Such matters are literally our of our control. What is in our control, we will devote to. Our message to students will be: “help us help you stay together here five days a week.”

Allow me to make an appeal to you, our families. Please help us in our shared commitment to stay together. We realize that cases of COVID in a family will quarantine all members. We realize that students who contract COVID off-site will be subject to contact tracing and quarantining. I have been struck in the last two weeks by news from some universities where off-campus activities are impacting learning models. Because of public-health directives, the impact to institutions of cases can be significant.

We are so pleased that PA athletics are underway this fall. We will webcast “home” contests, as our ability to welcome fans to campus will be limited to family members. In this as in all, we thank you so much for your help. We are attending with laser-like focus on our primary objective of being together, helping young people live full lives!

I want to speak for a moment about matters that are roiling our world here in the Twin Cities and beyond. The tragic death of George Floyd has heightened awareness everywhere of ongoing racial prejudice and disparities. The cry of untold hearts and voices is for greater justice. At the same time, this summer has brought widespread rises in the injustices of violent crimes (often disparately harming Blacks), riots, arson and looting, and destruction of monuments. Voices advocating for reform and improvement can seem drowned out. More than one commentator has observed that the U.S. is facing a “revolutionary moment” where many are challenging the very foundations of our civilization.

Providence Academy remains dedicated to the foundations of our civilization: Christianity, with Christ as the living Word of God, the source of our human dignity and unity; the rule of law; reason as the means of rising from opinion to truth; unalienable rights given by God; human equality. In the powerful words of Frederick Douglas: “The principles contained in [the Declaration of Independence] are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.”

All of these values are under attack today. Ideologies gaining prominence deny God, deny truth, and insist that power is the only real dynamic at play in all human relationships. They claim that all members of a single race participate in racism. These ideologies claim that equality is an illusion, and that institutions promoting great truths from our heritage are merely masking systemic oppression of others. Somehow, there is a view that rejection of principles will bring greater justice, peace, and harmony. Exactly how that could be, nobody knows. If you get rid of principles, if you get rid of reason, you can’t even know that justice, peace, and harmony are good things.

Here at PA, we believe, we know, that these things are good. We will be deepening our devotion to our principles, not overthrowing them. Let us draw closer together, and draw our children closer to each other, amid racial and ethnic difference. Let us appreciate and value difference, while we pursue greater solidarity in Christ—who is the way, the truth, and the life. As I said to faculty in a training Wednesday morning, “We Christians, and other truth-seeking people must lead in race relations again. The world’s ideologies are getting it wrong.”

Wednesday the faculty also had a workshop with our own Dr. Hippler on the Church’s teaching on racism. Black lives are sacred. Dr. Hippler provided us all with models from saints and heroes of the Church who fought racial injustice and should inspire our work today. Wednesday’s training ended with a forum on helping us love and understand each other better. Longtime PA dad Joshua Onserio led us, along with Sheila Qualls, a blogger whose “Letter to Our Sons” drew a nation-wide audience earlier this summer. We are so very grateful.

And we are grateful to you all in joining the great adventure that is education at Providence Academy. Today, on the feast day of St. Augustine, I take to heart that saint’s famous prayer: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Let us pursue truth and wisdom together, starting again next week, and let our restless hearts find rest in the Lord.

God bless you all. See you soon.

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