It has been a long and sometimes frustrating two weeks, but the way our teams have conducted themselves during this trying time has been amazing. Your maturity and gracious professionalism have really shown, and it's been so much appreciated by all of us at FIRST Chesapeake. Believe me, cancelling some events and postponing others was not an easy decision.
What Is FIRST HQ Saying About The Suspended Season?
FIRST HQ has suspended the season but has cancelled the World Championships in Detroit and Houston. There is a difference in the wording. Currently, the program is suspended through April, when HQ will re-evaluate the potential for resuming play in one form or another. However, the World Championships are cancelled, which means they will not be rescheduled.
What Does This Mean For FIRST Chesapeake Teams?
Currently if you go on the FIRST website, you'll see that CHS remaining events are listed as suspended. While HQ knows that we have cancelled the remaining local District events and rescheduled the (FRC) District Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding to June 17th-20th, they assigned all events "suspended" until they can have one on one discussions with the program delivery partners.
Team refunds - Any team fees paid for the World Championship will be refunded. A FIRST HQ communication will go out to teams hopefully within the next few weeks. Team refunds for FRC teams who never got a chance to compete or have already paid for a District Championship are under review. FIRST's policy states no refunds, but the executive staff realize these are unique times and they are working to find a solution. The hope is that the season will resume (example, our District Championship in June) and teams will get at least one chance to play before the season ends.
Awards - FIRST is working on determining how awards such as Dean's List, Chairman, Engineering Innovation, etc. will be interviewed and recognized. They are asking for our patience.
Seniors - FIRST realizes that recognizing graduating seniors is very important to the teams and they are working on several options. They are also discussing how to recognize Volunteer of the Year and Woodie Flowers.
Rookie grants - FIRST recognizes the unique position rookies have been in this season and are evaluating options regarding rookie grants for next season.
What Is The Rescheduled District Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding Going to Look Like?
FIRST Chesapeake is planning to offer the same high energy experience as always, including an expanded Technology and Scholarship Row, free give-aways, team showcases, and more. Travel grants will also still be available to teams needing assistance.
Team Advancement - FIRST Chesapeake is waiting to schedule a discussion with FIRST HQ about how we will handle team advancement in the next few weeks. Ideally, we would like to total the scores of the 8 teams that played 2 events, double the scores of the 94 teams that played once, and open a lottery to the 24 teams that didn't get to compete at any local District events. Note that all of this is hypothetical until FIRST HQ has approved our proposal.
COVID-19 - Of course, the success of the District Championship depends upon the path the COVID-19 pandemic follows over the next few weeks. If the majority of teams are still under travel restrictions, FIRST and FIRST Chesapeake will need to re-evaluate the District Championship plans. Because of this, FIRST Chesapeake has asked FIRST HQ to consider pushing the event registration deadline back to May or June of this year.
What Is FIRST Chesapeake Planning?
FIRST Chesapeake is looking at a number of options to help keep teams engaged over the next few months:
- Possible scrimmage for the 24 teams who were unable to play at a District event this season. More details to follow in late April/early May.
- Weekly updates to teams via email and social media.
- Mentor workshops Sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton (free) are still planned for Richmond (May) and Blacksburg (June).
- Off-Season Events - FIRST Chesapeake is willing to work with teams that may be interested in hosting off-season events in the Fall. More information to follow this summer.
- Possible on-line webinars, panel discussions, and Q&A forums. See below for more information on how to get involved in this.
- Town Hall update, April 1st, 5:30pm. Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1493160069
Or iPhone one-tap :
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
Meeting ID: 149 316 0069
What Can My Team Do For Now?
- Continue to work on your team's business or succession plan
- Keeping in mind the CDC guidelines regarding limiting social contact and the guidelines of your school, think of ways that you may be able to help others in your community. (Does your local animal shelter need dog walkers? Can you pick up trash at a nearby park or green space?)
- Contact your local Team Advisory Committee member about your team hosting an on-line webinar, open chat or panel discussion. They will gather your ideas and work with Ron Therrien, Director of Programs, to schedule and promote these sessions on FIRST Chesapeake's Ring Central conference line.
- Let your local Team Advisory Committee member know what topics you may like to hear more about from FIRST Chesapeake staff. (examples, fundraising, creative conflict resolution, etc.)
- Share your favorite experiences from the season with Samantha Ellis, FIRST Chesapeake Communications Manager, for posting on social media. We'd love to share a little sunshine over the next few weeks.
We are working very hard to keep the teams and our volunteers updated. We will be posting any updates regarding COVID 19 on our website here. Until then, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to the Team Advisory Committee or FIRST Chesapeake staff.
Wishing everyone good health.
Leighann Scott Boland