A Safe Return to School

Keith Crowley

This Friday, our board of trustees approved a plan to reopen our schools for in-person programming this fall. “Health and safety is paramount at Chewonki,” says Keith Crowley, Vice President for Education Partnerships and Risk Management. “Families expect us to provide the best care for their children and we take that trust very seriously.” The plan outlines programmatic changes and other precautions that will allow Maine Coast Semester and the Chewonki Elementary and Middle School to operate on campus while mitigating risks associated with the transmission of Covid-19. Programming will resume in the beginning of September.

Our reopening plan was created over a period of two months, during which time the staff participated in cross-departmental reopening teams covering the entire scope of operations. “We really did our homework to create this plan,” says Crowley. “We looked at other institutions, studied National and State CDC guidelines, researched what the scientific community is saying, and consulted with the medical community. We created multiple iterations and are continuing to do so new information becomes available.”

There are several contingency plans in place in case any program needs to quickly pivot to remote learning, however Crowley says that there just isn’t a good substitute for the authentic human to human interactions that occur on campus. “In-person programming allows us to leverage the entire experience  – the space, weather (including sun and rain) and community, as well as all the little interactions that we have with each other.” This adds an important dimension to the learning experience students have at Chewonki – it’s about personal growth and identity formation as much as it is about science, ecology and outdoor skills. 

“A massive amount of heart and soul went into the creation of this plan. Every single conversation I had with staff centered around the health and safety of our community,” says Crowley. “I’m honored to work with colleagues who are so committed to the wellbeing of our participants.” 

Read the full reopening plan and president Willard Morgan’s letter to the community here. Program-specific health & safety details can be found on chewonki.org/covid19, and we will continue to update this page in the coming weeks as new information becomes available. 

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