Updated: Mar 19
In an effort toward proactivity, we're sharing some information below about how our operations and programming may be affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our hope is that this outbreak slows in response to the social distancing strategies our communities have undertaken. Still, in order to be as transparent as possible, we are forecasting below how the next couple of months could look different at Character Counts Mid Shore.
We are committed to making lemonade out of lemons by seeking out flexible, creative solutions to mitigate the impact on the youth and communities we serve. We invite all to be partners with us in that effort.
WINNERS WALK TALL
The lemons: On the afternoon of Thursday, March 12th, we announced the tough decision to suspend our in-classroom Six Pillars of Character lessons that are taught by our large, loyal volunteer corps of Character Coaches. This proactive decision was made in consultation with the school systems we serve in Talbot, Dorchester, and Caroline Counties, who independently were already evaluating their policies on community member-volunteer entry. Later that same day, Maryland's Governor Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon announced that all Maryland public schools would be closed for at least the two week period of March 16th - 27th.
The lemonade: We have already been in contact with several Character Coaches to video character education content that we will host on our website and social media, which we will then share via mass email to the educators and school personnel we serve. Our hope is that we can be a trusted resource for both parents and educators as we all try to continue the learning opportunities of young people (especially while school isn't currently in session). Update 03/07/20: We have debuted our "Character Lessons at Home" initiative, releasing lessons daily for families and caregivers during the COVID-19 related school closures.
SIX PILLARS CENTURY
The lemons: According to the advisement of the US Center for Disease Control and executive orders signed into effect by Maryland's Governor Hogan, we are suspending registrations for our annual Six Pillars Century cycling event (as of March 16, 2020). This was a difficult decision with far-reaching impacts; Character Counts Mid Shore depends heavily on the success of this event in the support of our operating expenses as a nonprofit entity. Still, we must always take the most characterful path. In this case, that means putting registrations for the event on hold while we work with our event production team and community health experts to find a path forward.
The lemonade: The decision to freeze registrations does not mean that we are canceling the event altogether. We treasure our Six Pillars Century as a community-building event and will do all we can to preserve this experience, albeit at a later date. We ask for your patience as we work with local health officers and the Department of Emergency Management to explore what options we can provide to our cyclist participants.
COMMUNITIES OF CHARACTER CELEBRATION DINNER
The lemons: We treasure our annual Communities of Character Celebration Dinner as a way of putting our gratitude for our volunteers and supporters into action. As is the case with our Six Pillars Century (see above), our Communities of Character Celebration Dinner is currently a prohibited activity in that it brings together an audience larger than 50 people. The date for this event had been set for May 7, 2020.
The lemonade: Necessity is the mother of invention. While this event will likely take a different form than it has in years past, we are using the restrictions on our in-person activities to explore outside-the-box solutions. We are excited to share in the coming weeks a new plan for recognizing our Character Coaches and celebrating our communities' collective character achievements.
SUPPORTING AND TRAINING OUR VOLUNTEERS
The lemons: The training and ongoing support of our volunteers have been largely in-person activities over the years. As we recruit and train volunteer Character Coaches for the 2020-2021 academic year, we may have to defer in-person training activities to alternative methods. We will have more information as the global COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.
The lemonade: We prioritized the roll-out of our Coach's Collaboration Corner, a collaborative forum where all can communicate with one another on topics related to the Six Pillars of Character. We invite all to register as a forum user and engage in hearty, collaborative discussions. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, we had already been engaging in research with regards to technology solutions in relation to the training and support of our volunteers. We anticipate being ready to deploy a solution in conjunction with our typical back-to-school training activities this fall.