Health and Safety Announcements:
August 21, 2020 - Chewonki Schools Opening Delay Announcement
In recent weeks we have shared a flood of information with you about the opening of school next month. It has taken significant engagement from you through Zoom meetings, emails, information forms, and phone calls. Thank you! As a parent of two school-age children myself (grades 3 and 9), I am keenly aware of the effort it takes to keep up with plans for reopening. We appreciate your support as we, like so many other schools across the country, navigate this unprecedented school year.
In order to maintain our commitment to health and safety, I have decided to delay the start of Semester 65 and Chewonki Elementary Middle School. I reached this decision in collaboration with Chewonki’s leadership team and in consultation with our Trustees.
- Semester 65 will now begin on Wednesday, September 16th and conclude on December 12th
- Chewonki Elementary and Middle School will now begin on Thursday, September 17th
I did not come to this decision lightly and I am sorry for the impact it will have on you and your family.
The Reason for our Delay
In May and June we identified thousands of small and large changes that needed to be made across our campus to meet the Maine CDC’s Covid-19 safety requirements. Despite our best efforts, it has proven difficult to complete all of these changes on the timeline we set earlier this summer.
In particular, there are several key health center initiatives that must be completed before students can be welcomed back to campus. These include:
- The renovation of our health center and addition of a new isolation ward;
- Additions to our health center team, including extra nursing staff and a director of health services;
- A full review of our health policies and protocols by Elevate Health, our health services consulting firm, including newly added Covid-19 guidelines and tools
While each of these projects is nearing completion, the short delay will ensure we are ready to open with these essential pieces in place. We will continue to post all updates to our health and safety update webpage.
Over the next several days, you will receive more detailed information from Susan Feibelman, Kat Cassidy, and Sheryl Stearns, which will include an updated calendar, quarantine and testing requirements, and the orientation timeline. We remain committed to providing the high-quality education that you have come to expect from Chewonki.
Since I joined the Chewonki community sixteen years ago, my faith in our approach to education has only become stronger. While the short term disappointment of this delay is very real, I am confident in our collective ability to adapt and engage during these challenging times. I look forward to welcoming you to the immersive learning community that awaits you on the coast of Maine.
Thank you for your continued partnership.
With warmest regards,
July 24, 2020 - Chewonki Schools Phased Reopening Plan
I write today to share information about our return to in-person learning in September 2020. This letter does not contain all the details of the plan, but it offers a summary that will be elaborated on in program and staff-specific communications. At all times, we need to be aware that conditions could change and cause elements of this plan to change as well.
Since March 13 our campus has been devoid of in-person learning while we have prioritized the health and safety of our community. Although our educators have been heroic in their remote learning design and delivery through the school year and summer, we are all eager to return to safe and meaningful in-person learning on Chewonki Neck.
In recent months we have learned more about Covid-19 and the strategies to minimize its transmission. The State of Maine has implemented careful and sustained efforts to limit cases, which has been especially successful in Lincoln and neighboring Sagadahoc counties where there has been no community spread to date.
April 24, 2020 - Covid-19 Update from Chewonki
For over five weeks Chewonki Neck has been empty of students while spring has slowly pushed winter aside. Birds are singing, grass is greening, and the first gardens have been plowed on the farm. Those seasonal changes are so familiar, but the quiet without students is certainly not what we expect at this time of year. I have posted on our website a full update to the whole Chewonki community about how we are considering our programs in this difficult time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a summary of where we are today.
I have been reminded that the future is always uncertain, although that truism means even more at this time. Organizations everywhere are looking into the COVID-19 fog, gathering information, and striving to set a course to a desired destination. For Chewonki that destination is the return to in-person learning. Unfortunately, we have not yet found the best route, nor determined how long it will take to get there, although the course we must travel is beginning to come into focus.
The Chewonki Leadership Team and members of the Board of Trustees have been working closely together. We have pooled expert science-based resources, especially in public health, and conducted outreach to dozens of organizations – schools, camps, associations, funders, and government agencies – to develop a set of safety criteria we are now using to determine when we can reopen in-person learning at Chewonki.
March 13, 2020 - Covid-19 Update from Chewonki
Throughout our history, our students, staff, and campers have overcome challenges by working together as a group and striving towards a shared community purpose. Today the challenge before us is how to respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, which has rapidly evolved into a global health crisis with many local implications. We are all facing this challenge together and so I have sent this message to the entire Chewonki community.
I write to ask for your unprecedented support and understanding as we respond. We are focused on keeping our community safe and healthy now and into the future.
In particular, public health officials are calling on all of us to help “Flatten The Curve” of COVID-19 cases so that we do not overwhelm the healthcare system in the next several months. This can be done through protective measures such as “social distancing,” which requires changes in our behavior and in the ways we gather.