Update: 7/1/2020 at 2:30pm ET

July 1st, 2020

Dear FIRST Indiana Robotics Community Members,

As we start looking to the 2020-2021 school year, we wanted to share the following resources that have been created by the
Indiana Department of Education with you. FIRST Indiana Robotics was pleased to see the Governor’s Office and the Indiana
Department of Education has provided guidance around preparing for school operations in this current environment. The INCLASS
(Indiana’s Considerations for Learning and Safe Schools) COVID-19 Health and Safety Re-entry Guidance document
can be found here: https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/news/june-5-class-document.pdf.
The Indiana Department of Education has also created a resource page to quickly and efficiently provide schools access to
guidance on operational policies and procedures as the situation continues to evolve. These resources can be found here:
https://www.doe.in.gov/covid-19

Working alongside FIRST Headquarters, we expect to provide additional guidance to teams across all programs. Looking to
this upcoming school year, there are a few updates we’re working on in the background:

  • FIRST LEGO League Explore teams are able to participate in a Summer Virtual Showcase in partnership with FIRST
    HQ. Please reach out to Chris Osborne, cosborne@firstindianarobotics.org, if you’d like information on how your team can
    participate.
  • FIRST Tech Challenge will be providing more information about options for Remote Events as part of the Game
    Manual Part 1 – which is scheduled to be released July 14th. As noted from the latest FIRST Tech Challenge Team
    update, “Remote events will allow for transition to traditional events as social distancing restrictions are relaxed.
    Both formats can also be followed throughout the season with advancement all the way to FIRST® Championship.”
    Team registration is currently open for the FIRST Tech Challenge program and plans are being made for remote
    Kickoffs.
  • FIRST Robotics Competition staff and local Program Delivery Partners have been diligently working behind the
    scenes to maintain community engagement and identify a matrix of options for the 2021 season. Registration for the
    FRC program is projected to open in September with event sign-ups pushed back to October.
  • A FIN COVID Task Force will be created to identify and address challenges in this upcoming year, please reach out to
    Renee Becker-Blau at rbeckerblau@firstindianarobotics.org if you are interested in contributing feedback for our planning
    purposes.

FIRST Indiana Robotics is committed to following the guidelines presented by the Governor’s Office, the Indiana Department
of Education, the Center for Disease Control, and the Indiana State Department of Health and encourage our teams to follow
these guidelines when planning team meetings in the fall. We will be working diligently in each of our communities to
overcome challenges and identify solutions on opportunities related to hosting events. As always, the safety of the students,
mentors, families, and volunteers is our top concern as an organization.

We believe the future is built better TOGETHER, and we need your help. What concerns do you have? What type of ideas
can you share? What guidelines are your school or community following? FIN will have a Leadership Listening session on
Thursday, July 16th from 7:30pm – 8:30pm ET to keep our communication lines with our teams open – RSVP Here.

Sincerely,

Renee Becker-Blau

President, FIRST Indiana Robotics

Update: 3/12/2020 at 3:30pm ET

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update from FIRST HQ – 3-12-20 at 3:15pm ET

Hello FIRST Indiana Robotics Students, Mentors, and Volunteers,

FIRST Headquarters has released the following statement (please click here) regarding the remainder of the FIRST Indiana Robotics 2020 FIRST Events, including our FRC & FTC State Championships, are postponed until further notice.

We know this is a challenging time for teams. Nearly all of us on the FIN Board of Directors and Staff are alumni, mentors or are affiliated with FIRST teams, so we know the disappointment that this news brings. And yet, we realize that this news is not likely to be unexpected. We have said it before, but it bears repeating: Our primary concern is the health and safety of our teams and volunteers. We support this update from FIRST Headquarters.

To our students:  YOU are WHY we do what we do. Our future will only be built better together because YOU will improve the world. This program is about more than robots it’s a robotics community that is preparing YOU for the future. Throughout this season, including the latest events, you’ve learned through successes, failures and even events outside of your control. Remember that the events and experiences of this season are all part of a much longer journey you are on to improve our world. YOU are just like your #FINFAM district – YOUNG, SCRAPPY, COMMITTED, and we know that you won’t throw away your shot to change the world.

For now, we are turning our efforts towards discussing the feasibility of creating virtual spaces for the community to gather & developing a plan to resume FRC, FTC, & FLL Jr. events when it makes sense to do so. Our desire is to work with all of you and FIRST Headquarters to provide an experience that does justice to what this season should have been.

We know that there are still many unresolved questions. We will continue to be reaching out to provide answers and clarity in the coming weeks.

TOGETHER WE RISE

(Now more relevant than ever!)

FIRST Indiana Robotics Board of Directors and Staff

(Special thanks to FMA for letting us use similar language to their community updates)

If you have additional questions, please reach out to Mary Rinehart directly.

Thank you,

Renee Becker-Blau


Update: 3/11/2020 at 5:00pm ET

ST. JOSEPH DISTRICT EVENT STATUS

FIN Community,

 

We are in communication with the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation and have been notified that the St. Joseph District Event has been postponed due to concerns for the health and welfare of students and other participants, along with all large community events.

We are disappointed that teams will not have a chance to compete this weekend, and we recognize that there will be many questions about how this will affect the remainder of the season, yet we respect the decision of the host school district. The health and safety of teams and volunteers are our top priority. Penn High School has been and continues to be a strong supporter of FIRST programs and FIRST Indiana Robotics events and we look forward to working with the school on a future event.

This is a dynamically changing situation, and FIN is continuing to stay in contact with local health officials, event coordinators, and school districts regarding next steps for each event. At this time, we do not have any status changes in the Columbus, Perry Meridian, or State Championship Events.

FIRST Indiana Robotics is working closely with FIRST Headquarters to determine next steps for advancement to District and Championship Competitions.

We also encourage you to use only Center for Disease Control and Indiana State Department of Health materials when sharing information with students and parents.

If you have additional questions, please reach out to Mary Rinehart directly.

Mary Rinehart
Vice Chairman, FIRST Indiana Robotics Board of Directors
mrinehart@firstindianarobotics.org
219-576-3957 (Cell)

A link to the formal letter on FIN letterhead will be posted here shortly.

Thank you,
Renee Becker-Blau


Update: 3/11/2020 at 11:15am ET

The following email was sent to Lead and Alternate FIRST Mentors in Indiana. Included in the text below is the language from both an FRC and FTC specific letter regarding updates for the upcoming FIRST events in the state.

This note is from Mary Rinehart, Vice Chairwoman of the FIRST Indiana Robotics Board of Directors, with direction based on the most recent COVID-19 Updates. The PDF attachments include Mary’s contact information as it relates to updates from your teams:

Dear Lead & Alternative FIRST Mentors,

This letter is concerning the recent COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak in Indiana and it impact on the FIRST in Indiana (FIN) Robotics events and community. The safety of the students, mentors, families, and volunteers is our top concern as an organization. A press release went out on Tuesday, March 10th to all members of the FIN community, including teams, volunteers, event coordinators, and families. However, the FIN Board of Directors wanted to provide additional guidance for FRC teams at upcoming competitions this spring and for FTC teams on the upcoming State Competition scheduled for March 21, 2020 in Crawfordsville.

We are asking all FRC and FTC teams to create a contingency plan with the cooperation of their school administrators. We understand that the decision to attend any event is a local decision, and should be made in cooperation with school administration, the local health department, and parents.

This is a dynamically changing situation, and I am continuing to stay in contact with local health officials, event coordinators, and school districts regarding next steps for each event. At this time, all events will proceed as planned with the following changes:

  • The St. Joseph Health Department and CDC advise that the elderly and those suffering chronic illness should not attend large scale events considering the current public health concern.
  • Please discourage anyone who has recently traveled to an area where COVID-19 is rapidly spreading(like China, Thailand, and Italy) from attending any FIN Competition.https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
  • Sanitation will be increased across the event, and hand sanitizer will be available at all entrances to the public.

FIRST Indiana Robotics is still waiting on official guidance from FIRST Headquarters as to how a missed event will impact FRC teams and their advancement to District and Championship Competitions. Stay tuned for updates on how this imacts FTC teams and their advancement to the Championship Competition. 

As a lead mentor, please allow students to “opt-out” of attending and create flexible team attendance policies for students who are sick. Encourage hand washing and hygiene practices by building it into your team schedule (for example, everyone washes their hands before the team eats lunch).

I also encourage you to use only Center for Disease Control and Indiana State Department of Health materials when sharing information with students and parents. Misinformation and fear can spread just as quickly as a virus, and it is our duty as role models to be smart consumers of information.

If you have additional questions, please reach out to me directly.

The letter on official letterhead can be found here: FRC Teams / FTC Teams

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Original Post: 3/10/2020 at 10:00am ET

Hello FIN Community,

Given the recent news about the Coronovirus (COVID-19), the FIRST in Indiana Board of Directors wanted to share the following update.

FIRST in Indiana is in contact with FIRST Headquarters who are monitoring the situation. We are following the instructions of local, state, and national health officials. As a statewide organization, we are working with local event committees and host sites to ensure precautions are being taken for the health and safety of participants and attendees.

At this point there is no change to any of the statewide event plans. However, should the situation change we will proactively adjust. The safety of students, volunteers, attendees, mentors, partners, and all participants our highest concern.

The most important way to protect yourself against the spread of any contagious disease is to understand the symptoms, risks, and steps that can be taken to stay healthy while you are at events.

Safety Precautions:

  • Stay home if feeling unwell, developing a cough, or running a fever
  • Practice hand hygiene, including frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer, and avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Practice respiratory etiquette, including covering cough and sneezes with a tissue, and then disposing of the tissue in the trash
  • Clean frequently touched surface and objects daily (including tablets and cell phones)
  • Perform self-monitoring, and seek medical care immediately if feeling unwell

At Events:

  • Signs are posted around the event reminding attendees of proper handwashing procedures. There are bathrooms with sinks and soap throughout each event location.
  • Hand sanitizer is stationed at all entrances, Pit Admin, in the Cafeteria, on the field, and in the Volunteer Lounge.

If you have specific questions and are a member of a team, please reach out to your lead mentor first. All volunteers, lead mentors, and event planning committee members can forward any questions to Mary Rinehart, Vice Chairman at mrinehart@firstindianarobotics.org.

Updates from FIRST Indiana Robotics (Following FIRST HQ and local, state and national health official directions, will be posted here via the “https://www.firstindianarobotics.org/covid-19” link with the most recent updates first.

Additional Information: