The health and safety of teams, volunteers, and staff are our top priority. This morning, FIRST Washington and ORTOP reached the unfortunate conclusion that COVID-19 is an event beyond our control, and in accordance with public health recommendations we must postpone the remainder of the 2020 PNW District events.
We recognize that teams have put an enormous amount of work into preparing, and we regret having to share such disappointing news. At the same time this action is necessary given the specific and multi-faceted impact of COVID-19 in the Pacific Northwest. The FIRST PNW community is going to do its part in helping to reduce the spread of the disease.
In this note, we will summarize the challenges that we are currently facing in being able to provide a safe quality experience for our FIRST community. We will then give you the outline for how we hope to resume events later in this year.
The decision to postpone was made in discussions with FIRST Washington, ORTOP, and FIRST in New Hampshire. Our primary concern is always the health and safety of our participants and our volunteers.
Throughout this challenge, we have followed recommendations from local health departments, the CDC, and the districts involved in our events. The situation has evolved very quickly over the past several days.
Last week, based on King County health department guidance, we cancelled the Auburn Mountainview and Auburn High School events. In the following few days, many school districts began limiting after school activities. This impacts over half of our PNW FRC teams.
Washington and Oregon governments have declared states of emergency regarding COVID-19.
We are receiving a lot of feedback from teams, parents, and district policies that indicate a desire to limit activities across all states.
Due to the rapidly developing situation, decisions about the viability of events are being made on very short notice causing teams to scramble to make alternative plans.
This is not unique to the PNW district, we were just the first region to deal with this in the U.S.
Looking forward, we have very little clarity about the availability of venues, changes to health department recommendations, and the wide ranges of district policies about participation and how they are going to evolve. To be certain, we have and will continue to follow very conservatively the recommendations of health departments and the CDC.
Given all of the challenges faced, we believe it is in the best interest of everyone in our PNW district that we postpone the remainder of events until later in the year. Over the coming weeks, we will develop and share our plan to host remaining events as soon as possible. We will be reaching out to teams individually, and will share more information to our FIRST community as it becomes available.
Thank you for your understanding.
- FIRST Washington and ORTOP on behalf of the PNW FRC District