Our Place Summerschool COVID-19 Update #2

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Dear Biocitizen Community,

On behalf of the board and the staff, I hope you, your family and loved ones are safe and healthy and remain so.

Your support and your patience has been crucial to us as we adapt to the very serious public health issues raised by the pandemic. We deeply appreciate it.

We are pleased to say that MA DPH has licensed us to operate Our Place Summerschool under its new COVID-19 regulatory regime. We will contact you a week before your session begins with more detailed information about our revised policies and procedures, and our revised COVID-19 Hold Harm form. With the exceptions that follow, we will adhere as much as possible to our standards operations in the field.

> MA DPH will not permit schools to use vans at present, so parents will dropoff at 9 and pickup at 3 at Indian Hollow in Chesterfield.

> Our outdoor classroom is the East Branch of the Westfield River watershed between Chesterfield Gorge, Chesterfield and Knightsville Dam, Huntington. We will spend our 5 days there, doing an extensive, exciting and thorough reconnaissance of its biocultural history, past and present.

> We will have 3 groups of up to 12 people each (teachers, staff and students) and we will keep these groups discrete to avoid increased contact.

> We will be doing temperature checks at drop off and monitoring health signs all day. Parents: you  will also be monitoring. We are required by DPH to have zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy, and students and staff exhibiting symptoms will be isolated from others. Of course, nobody can participate if they have it. (These procedures and policies are more extensive and are in the process of being finalized—though at any minute subject to revision by DPH—and will be sent to you the week before you session.)

> From the DPH: “Programs must encourage the wearing of masks or cloth face coverings during the program day. Whenever 6 feet of physical distancing is not possible, masks must be worn. … When children can be safely kept at least 6 feet away from others, then they do not need to be encouraged to wear a mask.”

That means we can walk 6+ feet apart without masks on. Masks must be worn at drop off, when things are chaotic and we are doing sign in and temperature checks.

> Participants are not supposed to touch each other; however, DPH has confirmed that touching is allowed for first aid. We will be carrying gloves and will use them.

> Students must bring their own PFDs (personal floatation devices/lifevests). We are not a swimming camp, but enjoy river walking and dunking. All teachers are lifeguard certified and will bring safety tubes (life preservers on lines thrown to those in distress).

DPH requires shelter in buildings that allow 6′ of social distancing per participant during lightning storms. This might mean that if we have a forecast of violent thunderstorms, we might have to cancel a day. As usual, the evening before a session we will send you the weather report and our next day’s itinerary; if the above occurs, we will refund the tuition payment for that day. Generally, thunderstorms occur after 3 pm—so alert and cautious, we’ll take things as they come.

> We need your help to remind your child that all participants must be serious and conscientious about preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

That’s all for now,
again our thanks—we are very excited to walk and explore our beautiful biome with your child and will do everything we can to make a magical summer for all,
Kurt Heidinger

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