Surviving the Polar Vortex at MBS

Aaron Morton and Matthew Wang

MBS responded to the winter weather in a very 2020 fashion. After offering two traditional snow days in brief returns to normalcy, the remaining snowy days that caused the School to close were converted to online learning days. This helped to keep classes on pace while creating little disruption to students’ schedules. The school also used both delayed openings and early dismissals to ensure the campus and roads were safe for students, faculty, and staff. 

After 2 days of consistent snowfall (totaling 19 inches), snowbanks loomed over sidewalks in Morristown on February 3, 2021.

These decisions were forced by an unusual amount of snowfall this winter. Historically, the average snowfall in Morristown is 26 inches per year; as of March 23, roughly 47 inches of snow have fallen in and around MBS. 

Are we seeing a general increase in snow or is this just a one-year anomaly? Data for the next few years will need to be monitored closely in order to determine whether this increase in snowfall and harsh temperatures are a result of climate change.  

Despite the harsh winter, the MBS campus has still been as lively as ever. While snow still was on the ground, you could often see students playing around, throwing snowballs at each other. There were even a few snowmen spotted on campus. Eventually, when the snow melted in early March there was an unprecedented stretch of warm weather, and students could be seen gathering in the many outside areas of campus and enjoying the refreshing weather after a harsh winter. 

Caldwell said that this winter was one of the most challenging to date.

Along with all the major changes that took place in early 2020 when COVID-19 had just become prominent in the United States, with a harsh winter on top of pandemic-related restrictions, Head of School Peter Caldwell and Associate Head of School Darren Burns faced many difficult decisions. As Morristown-Beard has already experienced earlier this year, the School would often jump between virtual learning and in-person instruction in order to either complete COVID-19 tests or in accordance with CDC guidelines and restrictions. 

Matthew Wang ’21 hits some golf balls in his backyard on February 5, 2021. (Matthew Wang)

According to Mr. Caldwell, he and Mr. Burns were able to make the tough decisions regarding whether we would go to school in person or stay online by looking at the data and working alongside the Morris Township Department of Health. They also made the decision that MBS would use virtual learning in the weeks following Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring Breaks in order to test the community and ensure transmission would not occur during in-person learning.

Caldwell said that this winter was one of the most challenging to date, noting that all of the tough decisions that were necessary to make in order to ensure health and safety for the students and faculty were contributing factors.

While this winter was definitely a difficult one, the MBS community persevered and we will continue on this safe and healthy path until things are back to normal.