The Past Year

It’s been one year since the pandemic officially began. On this historic anniversary, we’re sharing an email from Michael Ames, our President & CEO, sent to staff this morning. Over the next week, we’ll also be sharing a few reflections and stories from students and staff about how this challenging (yet sometimes beautiful) year has inspired us and how it affected us along the way.

Dear Colleagues,

What a year it has been. I really can’t thank you all enough for what you have done and how you have come together over the past year to support one another and to support all of the children, youth, adults, and families that we work with. THANK YOU!!!

A year ago, on Friday the 13th, after days of monitoring the growing Covid situation; after many discussions with Meg MacDonald, Tim Hammond, Cindy Wing, all of the Executive Team, and medical advisors; and after a sleepless night contemplating all that was known, we made the decision to shut down our programs for a week. At the time, this felt like the longest 24-hour stretch I had ever endured and as one of the most difficult decisions I had ever had to make. I was deeply concerned (and still am) about the impact of shutting programs, closing residential services to visitors and families, and about the health and safety of all staff, residents and program participants. Looking back, that day was just the beginning. We expected to open programs back up in a week, on March 23.  How naive we all were!

While this past year was undoubtedly difficult and challenging, it was also a year of unbelievable resilience demonstrating the strength, commitment and resolve of our Perkins team. Our teachers and school personnel quickly pivoted to create virtual classrooms and online learning; the behavioral health clinic didn’t miss a beat, moving to a virtual format and helping hundreds of their clients navigate the stress and anxiety of this pandemic; our residential programs shut down to visitors but found ways to bring family members into the residences through video chat; and the Child Development Center opened up as an emergency child care center for first responders. Critically important supports like housekeeping, food services, and facilities adapted to new protocols and doubled down to ensure our facilities were clean, disinfected, cared for, and that everyone was well fed.  We also created an isolation unit and, when needed, staff actually moved into the unit for days on end to support a youth in isolation.  In addition to these programmatic responses, the Perkins team buckled down to follow covid prevention guidelines, support one another, and in some cases created new workspaces or offices out of their homes, all while adapting to new realities at home, the effects of Covid on their own families and home life, and the anxiety and other extreme complications resulting from life during this Pandemic. I am so proud of everyone for how they responded at the outset of the pandemic, how the approaches evolved, and for the support you have given each other. Again, THANK YOU!

 

Since the early days and months of the pandemic, the evolution of our response has been equally impressive. We moved from complete lockdown to the opening of programs and the school. We did this in ways that helped bring students and families back on campus while also continuing to be diligent in our efforts to protect one another. For the most part, I feel we have been very successful with this. There have, of course, been really difficult moments and we have had our outbreaks. Adult services and residential treatment both have endured prolonged quarantines and covid infections amongst staff and residents.

Today, on this one-year anniversary, as I reflect on the year that has been and how grateful I am for our community, I am also optimistic. With vaccinations in place for a majority of staff, our adult residents, and older students, I am hopeful that covid infection rates will soon fall and that we will be able to begin returning to a more normal level of interacting and programing.
Again, thank you for all that you do.  I will forever remember this period with gratitude for the Perkins Community.All the best,
Michael