When Scholarship Foundation offices closed to the public 14 months ago, we expected a return to normal in a matter of months. After several regional and international waves of affliction and death and an increasingly robust vaccine rollout, normal is not yet within our line of sight. Some of us can individually and in wider “pods” breathe a bit easier; yet, taking our cues from science and from history we are waiting to throw open the office doors.
The 1918 influenza pandemic saw its first U.S. wave in March, 1918 and the fourth and final wave began in spring of 1920. Some speculate that wave resulted from fatigue with two years of masking and distancing and restrictions on public gatherings. We identify with that fatigue, and we find ourselves responsible for resisting it.
We anticipate an office return that will proceed cautiously in these phases:
Phase I (June 1, 2021) – Staff only allowed on site. Masking, distancing and registering attendance for contact tracing purposes to be maintained. Remote working arrangements will also continue. All staff, student, board, and committee meetings held virtually.
Phase II (TBD) – All provisions of Phase I continue, except that members of the public will be admitted by appointment and with prior agreement to adhere to health and safety protocols. Appointments will be limited to gatherings of no more than 7 total individuals (including staff), as distanced seating and space allows.
Phase III (TBD) – Office will re-open to public (and gatherings over 7 individuals) when CDC and other public health entities declare it safe to be in proximity to others and unmasked. At that time, staff will resume in-person field work at high schools, colleges, and community agencies.
As has been the case throughout, Foundation staff and board members have achieved great things in serving the community and continuing to reach students remotely. The Scholarship Foundation has learned to adapt without compromising mission and core values. We’re grateful for the support and trust of our donors in finding new ways to deliver educational opportunity to students.
Still, some realities bear mentioning. The Scholarship Foundation serves a regional population and provides statewide programming. Our people live near and far, some in regions with no mask mandates and very low vaccination rates and some in situations where access to healthcare is far too limited. We live and work in settings where many, by definition, are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. The health and safety of all is too important to compromise, especially when we have found other ways to meaningfully serve.
We will remain hopeful and pragmatic, responsible global citizens right here at home. Thank you to each of you for your understanding and patience, and your willingness to wait with us for the day when a new normal emerges.
– Faith Sandler & Buff Buffkin