Happy September, everyone! Although what it is going to look like is anyone’s guess. Will more people stay on through what is traditionally Islanders’ favorite month, as they can work remotely? Will we still get throngs of tourists for the same reason? What are we going to do with our kids until school starts on Sept. 17?! What are we going to do with our kids once school starts and it’s all remote? Already this is not feeling like the happy, easing-out-of-summer Septembers of yore.
As it stands now, the school plan for M.V. is as follows: Everyone will be schooling remotely until the end of September, when grades K-1 will return to school four days a week, with one day of remote learning; the day will be shorter, 9:10 am to 1:40 pm. Children in grades 2 to 4 will return to school in mid-October, also with a shortened day. Then grades 5 to 8 will return to school one day a week at the end of October, with a regular-length school day, staying remote the rest of the time. The M.V. Regional High School will be all remote until Nov. 11, when they will reassess. There will be some in-person instruction for special- and high-needs students.
I know that coming to these solutions was a long and arduous task that many parents, schoolteachers, administrators, healthcare workers. and our school committee participated in. I want to thank the people who really took the time to engage in the issues and try to come up with the best solution for keeping our children and the school staff safe and healthy. That said, this is going to be a challenging fall for anyone with children in the public school system. I count myself lucky that my son is 13, and can follow the online courses with little supervision while I sequester myself in another part of the house to do my job remotely. But many parents are not so lucky. Their children are young, they have multiple children, the parents cannot work remotely, there is only one parent or caregiver and he or she must work, and on and on. There are many different family/work configurations that are going to make this fall hard for families. This pandemic has laid bare how much we rely on teachers to fix things they cannot fix, how little we value (monetarily) the work that teachers — especially preschool teachers — do, and how much support, in terms of childcare and resources, all families need, and how little they get.
There are some people and organizations helping to fill in the gaps where they can. Sassafras in Aquinnah will offer a series of 10-week programs from September until November. They will offer “Forest Kindergarten” on Friday for children ages 4 through 7, “Home Schooling” on Fridays for ages 7 through 14, and “Saturday Youth” on Saturdays for kids aged 7 through 14. All programming takes place outside; go to sassafrasmvy.org for details. I have heard of some teachers who are not returning to teaching this year, offering their services to families to help with the remote learning so that parents can work. These solutions of course cost money (Sassafras does have a scholarship program), which raises the question, What are families without money, who need to work outside the home, going to do with their kids? How can we support them? I don’t have an answer, but there are a lot of these families on-Island, and we are going to need some out-of-the-box solutions quickly.
Good news for residents and visitors with electric cars: There are now charging stations in Aquinnah. The two ports are located at Town Hall and at the Cliffs. As of press time they were not fully operational, waiting on the final approval from Eversource, but you should be able to charge your car in town soon. Thank you to the Climate Action Committee and to Gary Haley and Jeff Madison, who made this happen.
The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival is continuing screenings at the ice arena into September, including “The Incredibles” on Sept. 11. They will also host a modified version of the 2020 Film Festival over Indigenous Peoples’ Weekend in October. I went to the drive-in on Thursday to catch Cat Gund’s movie about her art collecting/activist/philanthropist mother, Agnes Gund, “Aggie.” Aggie is the woman who in 2017 sold a Roy Lichtenstein painting for $165 million and donated $100 million to start the Art for Justice organization, dedicated to racial justice. It was very good, and she is a fascinating woman. In true Vineyard fashion, I had only met Cat on Philbin Beach and at pizza nights at Juli’s, so it was great to see her work and get to know her better through it. The film will be released at the beginning of October, and on Hulu and iTunes at the end of October.
It’s that time of year when we say goodbye to our friends who are here in the summer, but return to their other homes in the fall. Rachel and Mike McDonald left this past Tuesday. Kate and Tim Kausch returned to Newton on Sunday, as their boys are going back to school very soon. I’m sure we will be saying goodbye to many others soon.
Happy birthday to Clyde Smith, who turns 16 on Sept. 2. He will celebrate, as he does every year, on Philbin Beach. Happy birthday to Paul Manning, who celebrates on Monday, Sept. 7. We have two new babies in our Aquinnah family. Town clerk Gabbi Camilleri is now a grandmother to Wren Slate Castro-Goldin, who was born August 16 to Gabbi’s daughter, Ava Belle Castro, and Scott Goldin of Edgartown. She was born at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and weighed 8 lbs., 7 oz. Congratulations to Nicole Hogan and C.J. Metros, who welcomed a baby boy, George Riley Metros, on Saturday, August 29, at 12:17 am. He was 8 lbs., 2 oz., and 21 inches long. George joins older brother Albert, who is 2 and hopefully prepared for the role of older brother.
If you have any Aquinnah Town Column suggestions, email Molly Purves, firstname.lastname@example.org.