Dear RMBL Community,
 
As we prepare for a third summer in the shadow of covid-19 we wanted to communicate with you about what we anticipate the upcoming summer in Gothic will look like. Different communities and individuals have experienced the pandemic in fundamentally different ways. The public schools that serve the community around RMBL have been open the entire pandemic, except for the initial outbreak in the spring of 2020; schools in other regions continue to be closed. Many of us have lost family members and friends or had to make hard decisions about trading off financial security against working in risky environments. Others of us have had the good fortune to be relatively untouched or had the luxury of jobs that do not expose us to infection. As we plan to host people with such a range of experiences, our approach is to be transparent about what to expect so that people can evaluate themselves whether working or living at RMBL is appropriate for them.
 
With that in mind, here is the general direction we are headed.

  1. Because of shared living, we anticipate requiring vaccinations for individuals living or working in shared indoor spaces, as much as is legally/ethically appropriate. We are still working through the legalities of what we can require in terms of waivers and how we will handle health exemptions. Last year only a handful of residents were unvaccinated, which suggests that we can anticipate a vaccination rate of 95%+. To the extent practical, we will follow public health guidance on what is considered fully vaccinated in terms of boosters.
  2. Our mask policy will be similar to last year when masks were not required for indoor spaces much of the year but were required when we saw the beginning of an outbreak towards the end of summer. The default policy will be that masks will not be required for shared indoor spaces, but we will constantly evaluate the situation and adjust as needed.
  3. We anticipate that our housing will be full, there will be less private housing than last year, and there will be limited opportunities to quarantine/isolate individuals out of general caution. We will take requests for private housing, but we will follow our longstanding policy for how we prioritize individuals. If you are uncomfortable with how we are able to manage housing, we encourage you to explore alternatives.
  4. We will continue to restrict public access to indoor spaces, though as long as we are not experiencing an outbreak, we intend to be more open than last year. We anticipate allowing a certain number of public sign-ups for lunch, though probably not breakfast or dinner, in the dining hall. We will conduct public outdoor tours through town, though we will work to minimize congestion in high traffic areas. We will not offer public tours of shared indoor facilities like the Gothic Research Center. We may occasionally host a limited number of individuals to breakfast or dinner, or through shared facilities as part of maintaining important stakeholder relationships.
  5. We will not be operating the 4th of July race. That is likely a permanent change, both because of the pandemic-associated challenges to large events, as well as the broader challenges associated with public pressures on the Gothic Townsite and the role of events for visitors in increasing that pressure.
  6.  Like last summer we will operate our K-12 education programs, though we have made what we consider a permanent programming shift to focus on higher quality, smaller groups.
 
As we finalize our policies, we are thinking about the following items.
  1. The local community is a unique mixture of liberal and libertarian. Depending upon where you come from, you may see less mask-wearing in public spaces than what you are accustomed to.
  2. We will continue to monitor the emergence of variants with an eye to understanding both the severity of emerging strains as well as the protection our community is likely to have because of previous infections and vaccinations.
  3.  We must balance health risks within a larger context of ensuring critical research is able to proceed and ensure students of all ages are able to develop professionally and personally. There is no perfect way to balance these factors and the ideal balance will vary by individual.
  4. We have been very fortunate to operate RMBL the last two summers without evidence of onsite transmission. That is likely a combination of luck and preparedness.
  5. As we work through these and other details, we are finalizing the housing registration process for summer 2022. We expect housing registration in the RMBL Community Portal to be live by early March with the normal April 1 deadline. We will make an announcement when it is ready.
 
If you have thoughts, questions, or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to Ian Billick (ibillick@rmbl.org), Kelly Sudderth (kelly@rmbl.org), or Brett Biebuyck (brett@rmbl.org). While there is still an opportunity for us to consider changes to the policy, as with last year, once we set the policy, we do not anticipate making major changes, and certainly not quickly, to relax restrictions, since that could cause understandable health concerns for some.