Prepping School for Social Distancing

a middle schooler on the new AMS back porch

When students leave for the summer, AMS staff still have plenty of work to do. We harvest and preserve vegetables from the farm. We clean and repair our numerous academic and art spaces. And we maintain our grounds keeping them a welcoming space for Celo Community to enjoy throughout the school’s downtime.

This year we continued to do all that work, but we also had additional task: prepping school for social distancing. At our end of the year retreat in June, we decided that, as long as we could do it safely, we wanted to offer an in person program this fall. Since then, we have been working to move our activities outdoors and modify our spaces to accommodate outside learning.

Socially Distanced Academic Spaces

Outside learning as a method to combat infection is not a new concept. New York City Schools employed this strategy a century ago as a means to fight tuberculosis outbreaks. Open air classrooms lessened transmission of the disease. The latest research suggests that this tactic also works well with COVID-19.

To prepare for the upcoming school year, we have modified several spaces on campus.  We gave our carports a makeover, transforming them into rainy day classrooms that will keep our students dry while offering lots of airflow. The school’s back porch is being outfitted to hold tarps so we can continue to eat lunch outside every day. Student and staff also worked together to build outdoor hand washing stations.  All of these changes will allow us to stay safe and still be together as a community.

On super cold days, students will go inside. Large spaces like our dining hall and Upper Green Cay will be used as socially distanced classrooms where students can spread out and wear masks. Still, we plan to only use these spaces as last resorts and in true AMS style hope to be outside as much as possible.

Tood and Zac looking at plans of the new academic buildingThe New Academic Building

A lot of other work has been getting done this summer as well.  In the second week of June we broke ground on our new academic building. Two months later, the hard working construction crew has almost completed framing the outer walls.  We are very excited for this project to finally get going and grateful for all the donations and support that made it possible.

Among the people working on the building this summer are former staff member, Todd Kindberg, and former board member and parent, Jon Pertee. Todd owns Equinox Woodworks, the contractors on this project. Part of Todd’s crew is alumnus Zac O’Donnell. Zac has worked on the building almost every day, sometimes all by himself.

The building is scheduled to be completed by the end of December and so far it’s on track. We are excited for its completion this year. It will be the culmination of 10 years of imagining and effort. But also, the new library will be large enough to offer another cold weather socially distanced academic space.

Summer is almost over. Students will be returning on August 30th for the new school year, and thanks to everyone’s hard work, our campus is prepared to receive them.  We are excited to be able to meet in person this year and by prepping school for socially distancing, we are ready to do so safely.

-by Nicholas Maldonado