The Narwhal Chronicles
February 12, 2021



HCA will be remote for the three weeks after February break, returning to our mix of in-person, hybrid and remote learning on Monday, March 15th.

With a positive Covid-19 case at our high school on Tuesday and then the news on Wednesday that the British variant had been discovered in Maine, it was a hard week at HCA. As we shared with you in early January, our plan for the arrival of the variant has been to go fully remote until we can assure all of our students, staff and families that it is still safe to be in school. In many ways, the seriousness (link) and number of unknowns around this variant put us back where we were last March, when only 20 or 30 cases a day of Covid-19 was alarming.

You have also likely heard the news that cases in Maine are at their lowest since Thanksgiving, and that all counties have been returned to the “green” designation as of noon today. That news is certainly welcoming and encouraging, and it is due to your vigilance at home as well as to that of educators at schools across the state. We are proud of the fact that HCA has been able to offer fully in-person learning for all but two weeks so far this year, and are grateful for your partnership in making that happen.

So, while we are hopeful that the variant will not make this good news temporary, we are also mindful of the lessons that affected communities have learned over and over with the spread of Covid-19. Assuming that we can reasonably assure the health and safety of our students and staff, HCA will return to its mix of in-person, hybrid and remote learning on March 15th.  This is three full weeks after the February break.  Our reasons for this are:

  • Our current routines and protocols were not designed for the more contagious variant and so need to be reviewed and upgraded.
  • Taking 3 weeks after break to watch what the variant does to the state’s current trends will help insulate our school community if the variant becomes the dominant form of Covid-19 over the next month, as predicted.
  • Testing for the variant in Maine is starting to ramp up (link), and we will only be able to manage the risk when we know what the risk actually is. We are hopeful that testing for the variant increases, and that testing in general becomes more available to everyone.

We recognize that this decision is a hardship on our students and their families, and that it might be confusing given the contrast with the current metrics. But the health and safety of our whole HCA community continues to be our priority.

Many thanks,

Scott Barksdale, Head of School

Cynthia Shelmerdine, Board Chair