soft landing

Some info from one excellent operation..

Firstly, I hope you are all safe and well. Our students, staff and faculty have so far not reported any tragic personal COVID-19 stories. Our thoughts are with those who have been struck, such as Craig Allen with Allen Harbor Marine, a Mass Marine Trades Assn member who we are told has lost two of his staff/family members to this disease already. I fear, as time goes on, this news will repeat itself and will still have the same heart-wrenching impact as hearing of Craig’s loss has had with me. Please do what you can to help all of us keep things dampened down by observing social distancing and other advice on minimizing transmission.

I have been remiss in not reaching out to all of you with an update on where The Landing School stands right now, and what the future holds. The best part of any explanation for my tardiness is that we have been incredibly busy re-configuring our operation to cope with the restrictions under which we now operate. We started planning for this in February and have been communicating internally to ensure our operations continue and our students receive the support they need. That is the good news in these times.

Our buildings are not open, but we haven’t closed the school entirely. Through an incredible effort on the part of the faculty, and considerable flexibility from students, we were up and running with online classes via Zoom within a week of “closing” our doors. Who would have thought you could teach a hands-on topic like boatbuilding over an internet connection? Our newsletter, due in your inbox next week, will outline what we have managed to achieve and how we are still on track (if somewhat delayed in timing) to graduate a class of qualified boatbuilders, marine technicians, and yacht designers ready to join the marine industry.

Financially we are stable. We are in the process of tapping into the support available through the CARES Act and will be proceeding with a spring fundraising appeal. We have the support of our creditors and no staff layoffs are planned at this time. We are still “in business,” even if the doors are not physically open.

What will we look like come September 2020 and the start of a new academic year? Of course, we can’t say for sure in these uncertain times. We are making plans for a “business as usual” environment, as well as exploring contingencies should external factors prevent us from operating as we have in the past. Our lessons learned in this crash course of delivering content in a new format, still mixed with hands-on practical time, will stand us in good stead should we need to modify our approach.

It’s encouraging that the demand from students, and industry, for the work we do in preparing men and women for a marine industry career has not diminished. Enrollment was well ahead of last year’s numbers before COVID-19 started upon us. Perhaps not surprisingly, these students and more, are still engaged and excited about coming to The Landing School in the fall. And why wouldn’t they be. The opportunity for vocational education in a wonderfully rewarding industry….in a quiet, rural, sparsely populated area, living separately (not in dorms), in classes of 20+/-, in open workshops is now more than ever an appealing post-secondary education option. On the other side, the employment opportunities remain. Yes, there are layoffs right now from yards shuttered by the lockdown regulations. But the industry knows that when we get through this there will still be the shortage of qualified, skilled workers they have desperately sought for some time.

The Landing School will be there for both the students and the marine industry. We are confident that, with your help and support, we will get through this, and emerge stronger than ever.

Please follow us on social media (Facebook & Instagram), as well as check in to our website for updates, and look for newsletters and a spring appeal in the next few weeks.

Thank you for your support in these times.
Richard Downs-Honey

[email protected]
401.256.3948 (personal cell phone)