December 31, 2020

Dear Gould Families,

As we prepare to bring our first group of students back to campus tomorrow, I want to communicate directly with you in order to outline our expectations for student and family behavior during the coming weeks and months. Rising COVID-19 cases here in Maine and across the country are cause for concern, and we are closely monitoring this situation here at home and abroad. 

Our faculty and staff, students and families have done an exceptional job following the Gould Pledge, which is built upon our school’s core values and the guidelines set forth by the Maine CDC. With the number of infections rising daily, it is imperative that every Gould family recommit to this pledge now, understanding what is at stake if even one person puts individual wants over the needs of the community. The virus only needs a small foothold, and a few bad decisions made by a few people can destroy the goals and good work of the community.  

Therefore, Gould expects that all students and their immediate households will continue to be willing partners with us as we seek to protect the welfare, health, and safety of everyone on our campus. The residential nature of our community requires that our protocols exceed those set by the State of Maine and the CDC, but they will only succeed with your cooperation. 

Being a “willing partner” is defined but not limited to the following:

  • Follow all guidelines issued by the Gould Health Center in the 10-day period prior to your return to campus or the start of in-person classes or a team training camp.
  • Immediately notify Gould Academy if your child, a close contact of your child, or someone in your immediate household becomes diagnosed with COVID-19 and/or exhibits symptoms; do not attempt to attend school or training/competitions off campus. Even feeling slightly “ill” or “under the weather” can be a sign of a possible COVID-19 infection and must be treated seriously. 
  • Limit close contacts as much as possible. Avoid indoor gatherings with non-household members. Avoid large outdoor gatherings that make physical distancing impossible. Students and members of immediate households should avoid restaurants and bars, including places where mixed groups gather to eat and drink indoors, even if minimum physical distancing guidelines are enforced. 
  • Please treat our Gould faculty and staff with respect if or when you are contacted regarding a positive case, COVID-19 behavioral concern, or associated close contact within your family or household. We are looking out for the welfare and safety of your child and the entire community. Gould didn’t ask for this pandemic to occur. Our faculty and staff are making tremendous sacrifices in their own personal lives, and working tirelessly on behalf of your children; they deserve to be treated with civility.
  • Review these expectations with your child, and ensure that they understand and accept the responsibilities associated with being an in-person student this year.

Our primary goal is to allow your children to experience the best of in-person instruction through the end of this 2020-2021 school year. We had an incredibly successful first half of the year, despite the obvious challenges associated with living under COVID-19 restrictions. Any actions that threaten health or safety, or that may result in large numbers of faculty and students being placed in quarantine—thus threatening our ability to function effectively—are unacceptable and are an affront to the sacrifices we’ve all made to get to this point today. 

“Careless disregard” by anyone, including parents or children, is likely to result in the student being asked to become a remote learner through the end of the trimester at the earliest. “Reckless disregard” by parents or students can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the school. “Reckless disregard” includes endorsing large indoor gatherings in violation of our health and safety return-to-campus guidelines; failure to notify Gould of a positive case in your immediate household; willfully violating isolation or quarantine guidelines for confirmed positive cases or confirmed close contacts. 

If you feel that these expectations are overly burdensome and that you or your child will not be able to follow these guidelines, we ask that you withdraw now from in-person instruction for the remainder of the term. We understand how difficult this pandemic has been on people, and we certainly do not want to set anyone up for failure. Having to make a difficult decision now vs. after an incident has occurred is in everyone’s best interests, and this may not be the year for you or your child to complete their in-person instruction at Gould. 

Bear in mind that our ability to operate is based on the premise that inherent risk accompanies in-person instruction. Your cooperation is necessary to limit additional risk, as per the “Swiss Cheese” model of risk management. Gould students will be in classrooms with other students and teachers, we will be eating in the dining hall together, riding in vans, taking lift-rides, living in a residential dormitory situation, and myriad other situations that can result in large numbers of students and faculty being placed into isolation or quarantine. Let’s all work together to limit risk, to ensure that the second half of this school year is as productive as the first half, and that no one in our immediate community gets suffers from this disease.

With best wishes for your good health and a swift path out of this crisis.

Tao Smith
Head of School