Requiring vaccination means participants will be able to enjoy workshops mask-free
“I just can’t wait to welcome everyone back to campus,” Program Manager Tamara Jennings shares, her eyes bright and her gaze tilted upward as she visualizes our studios and courtyard populated with familiar friends during a perfect day at Sitka.“It starts with greeting people as they arrive, gourmet coffee brewing, birds singing… the studios full of life. I love checking in and seeing how individual people experiencing the same workshop create such different things.” As she reflects, I can almost see the coastal morning light filtering onto her face.
Today, with the most recent guidance from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the Oregon Health Authority for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, we are announcing our plans to require vaccination for Sitka’s in-person workshops. This means that our instructors, participants and staff will be able to enjoy the workshop season and each other mask-free. We will be able to hear each other clearly, gather around tables and easels to share work-in-progress, sip coffee, eat outdoors together and enjoy all of the simple pleasures that make summers at Sitka so rejuvenating.
Last week we reached out to share our plans with Sitka’s instructors, and their positive feedback gives us confidence that we are making the best choice. The quality of instruction will be greatly improved, and our instructors will have peace of mind to focus fully on their teaching instead of masking and distancing protocols. By only offering one workshop at a time this year, everyone will still be able to spread out, and we will be able to honor the needs of fully vaccinated people still wishing to practice physical distancing and mask wearing.
For those who have been waiting before registering, we hope this announcement helps you make summer plans. While some of our workshops are full, others still have room. For workshops with wait lists we may have opportunities to add additional sessions back into the calendar as the summer progresses, so please join a wait list if there is a workshop you hope to attend. For those who are vaccinated and signed up for an online seat and who would now prefer to attend in person, reach out, and we will help you. For those still wishing to participate online, this will still be an option for you.
While all of us have shared the experience of navigating the pandemic together, each of us has faced our own challenges and heartbreaks, and no two experiences have been the same. For those who have struggled with personal illness or lost loved ones during this time apart, please know that you are in our thoughts. I hope that the prospect of rejoining with members of this caring and supportive community among the spruces and ferns when you are ready to do so, whether this year or in the future, gives you a sense of optimism and peace.
The coffee is ordered. The studio tables are refinished. The courtyard sails are being hoisted. The ocean is right where we left it.
With special thanks to my colleagues Tamara Jennings, Nancy Newman and Nicola Harrison for their flexibility and commitment to serving Sitka’s workshop participants and instructors with safe, creative and joyful experience at Sitka this summer,