BAR HARBOR — The College of the Atlantic campus is normally a hub of activity in the summer, with programs for children and high school students, boat trips, lecture series and events organized by outside groups.
This year, with the campus closed for the spring term and likely at least into June as a health precaution, most of those programs have been canceled or are switching to online formats, college spokesman Rob Levin said this week.
The college’s Class of 2020, like the high school graduating class, will have an unusual set of celebrations.
“We’re postponing the on-campus graduation celebration for a year, inviting this year’s class to come back to celebrate on campus next year,” Levin said. But meanwhile, Director of Student Life Sarah Luke, Alumni Coordinator Jen Hughes and other staff are working with the seniors this spring to design creative ways to honor them and their achievements.
Summer programs for which participants or staff live in the dorms have been canceled.
“There’s too many unknowns right now for getting people together in dorms,” Levin said. The unknowns are “not only on our end,” but also about “how many program participants are going to still want to” attend these events.
The Summer Field Studies children’s camp (SFS) and Summer Field Institute for high school students, he said, both require “an enormous among of ramp–up and planning and hiring.” The long lead time is why the college had to make the call to cancel the programs early.
“We are very disappointed to have to have canceled SFS,” Levin said. “We love our SFS students.”
Also canceled is a two-week Institute for Environmental Journalism program, which is a partnership between the college and InsideClimate News.
A few campus attractions, like the Dorr Museum of Natural History, require less ramp-up work and may be able to open later in the summer if the leadership team decides it can be done safely. Campus tours for prospective students could resume on shorter notice, too.
Summer research on Mount Desert Rock and other islands may be able to continue. “There’s a little more flexibility there,” Levin said.
Beech Hill Farm is continuing to operate, and because the produce is not needed at the campus dining hall, an online farm stand is offering produce and other local products for delivery on Mount Desert Island.
The Champlain Institute, the college’s annual week-long “ideas festival” is set for July 27-31.
“While there are no immediate plans to postpone or cancel the Champlain Institute, Coffee and Conversation series, or any of our other summer events, we are actively making contingency plans to offer our lectures and Institute sessions via livestream if necessary,” organizers said. The theme of this year’s Institute is “November 3: What’s at Stake?” and will explore the future of U.S. diplomacy, climate change policy, income inequality, national security, the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court and other issues that will be critical national topics leading up to the presidential election.
Construction work is continuing on the new Center for Human Ecology building, Levin said, but faces some of the same supply chain delays as the rest of the industry. The construction site is totally closed to anyone not involved in the project.