Nick Tonello, a 2020 student in the wooden boatbuilding program at The Landing School in Arundel, details the bow of his Town Class vessel. The school plans to open for onsite classes in the fall.. Courtesy Photo

ARUNDEL — The Landing School plans to open for onsite classes Sept. 8, albeit with modifications in its operation and  is planning to admit fewer students due to COVID-19.

The school, which offers programs in yacht design, wooden boat building, composite boat building and marine systems, will offer staggered start times for all students and partitions at workstations.

“We fully expect to open our doors for onsite classes and hands-on shop time in September,” said The Landing School President Richard Downs-Honey. “We are ordering extensive PPE and are currently building and creating space that mitigates the risk for all students, faculty, and staff. It also helps we are located in Maine, which is considered a low-risk state.”

Downs-Honey said school administration is confident in the decision to open, due to the facility’s location in a relatively rural setting with a low-density population, and the fact that without dormitories, students live apart, in rentals throughout the community. As an extra precaution, he said staff has also identified students who are moving to the area from higher risk communities and will track and document their quarantine and/or testing prior to opening day.

A 2020 student in the wooden boatbuilding program at The Landing School, Kate Slocum paints the benches of her Town Class vessel. Courtesy Photo

The school, founded in 1978, is continuing to accept applications for enrollment. Communications Director Sarah Devlin said the student body usually numbers around 100 but given the pandemic planned to cap enrollment at around 80.

“Now we are considering knocking it back further,” said Devlin. “Applications are still active and coming in, but we anticipate 60-70 students across the four programs.”

She said school staff, faculty, and a handful of graduates are prepping the classrooms, shops, and common areas, getting ready for opening day.

Maine has one of the lowest rates of infection in the country, according to Harvard Global Health Institute.  Online readers can see the statistics here:

“With this data in mind, we feel confident we can open for school while maintaining standard COVID protocols to continue to keep those numbers low,” Downs-Honey continued. “We learned the benefits of online learning during the peak of this pandemic, and are ready with that as a Plan B in the unlikely event the numbers start to rise, but that is not how we plan to enter this school year.”

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