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March 12, 2021
The Spring Class Schedule has started, let's reflect on the past year.
It's time to acknowledge the tremendous effort everyone has made since March 2020. The amazing dedication of our students is seen every day as they take advantage of the opportunities created by our coaches. Everyone has learned how to navigate an array of government guidelines; we’ve dealt with shutdowns, different restricted activity levels, wildfire smoke, snow and ice, fencing outdoors, blackouts, and virtual workouts. Yet people are persevering and diggin’ deep.
We want to recognize the effort of our coaches. They’ve created hundreds of YouTube videos and Zoom classes and have gotten so good that other clubs seek their advice. They have developed the seventh(!) schedule since the first shutdown, adapting to evolving guidelines to maximize your fencing and learning opportunities. This is in addition to all the things you don’t see, like taking over all the daily cleaning and disinfecting of the club.
We are beyond thankful for all of you. This is not the year we hoped for nor ever imagined for fencing, school, or in some cases, employment. Everyone has shown resilience, appreciation for coaches, and patience with every pivot. Our families continually contribute to the success of our community. Your homes became classrooms and your car became your reading room while waiting for your fencers. We understand you have faced a bewildering number of adjustments and setbacks, and you still contribute your time and your funds. Given the strength of our community we know we will continue to meet new challenges with patience, grace, and understanding.
Thank you for the trust that you placed in us to provide the best fencing education possible this year and moving forward. We are humbled realizing that we have come through this collective struggle stronger, smarter, and kinder. The transition back to a regular schedule, tournaments, and camps is happening, and it pays to remain patient.
One of those transitions is this: the board of USA Fencing had decided to hold NAC tournaments in April, May, and June. The first event is in three weeks to be held in Fort Worth, Texas. We think that’s too soon, but you should be making an informed decision if you are considering going. Check with the CDC for travel guidelines and review the USA Fencing website for details on how they plan to run these tournaments. There is a reliable site that can give county by county risk assessment at this link: (Covid-19 Event Risk Assessment Tool) This information allows you to see the real-time risk of being exposed to someone with Covid-19 at an event by location and size. Currently, an event of 500 people in Talent County, Texas has a greater than 99% chance of exposure.
Though we don’t recommend attending the April tournament, or any regional or national tournament right now, all are free to make their own decisions. You need to know our procedures if you decide to go. For the months of March and April anyone who has traveled by air or out of state, for any reason, must not return to the club until at least:
A) 14 days has elapsed with no symptoms, or
B) 7 days have elapsed symptom-free and you can provide a negative result for a rapid Covid test taken after the 7 days.
We will always put the safety of our fencers, their families, our coaches, and our staff first. That is why we have the above CDC-recommended policy and do not recommend competing out of state at this time. We will see how conditions evolve for May 2021.
During all of this, we have discovered that doing the right thing isn’t always easy in the short term. We have faith in your strength and your regard for your fellow clubmates. You’ve shown that over and over this year. We’re very close to returning to a more open environment. We are looking forward to enjoying it with all of you. It’s going to be great!
December 11, 2020
We are ready to resume training at the club starting next week beginning Monday, the 14th. We are taking advantage of regulations allowing outdoor training during the lockdown. We have put up a wind barrier around the portico to create a training area roughly the size of one of our indoor pods. This area will be used for classes and private lessons.
There is no way to provide as many classes as we could using our whole facility, but combined with Zoom options we can keep you engaged and in shape. We’ve created a schedule that hopefully will allow everyone to find a time when they can come and take part in class.
There will be a new traffic flow to maintain safety. Fencers will now enter through the old front door on the south side of the building and check-in at the front desk. They will be directed to waiting pod #1 or #2 located in the black pod area. This is where fencing bags, etc. will be placed. The coach will tell them when they can enter the portico pod for class. When class is over they will return to the waiting pod, collect their belongings, and proceed out the door by the restrooms. All of our previous safety protocols will still apply; face coverings are to be worn at all times, 6’ safety zones whenever on the premises, no water fountains, etc. We’re all used to this, so it shouldn’t have any unexpected effects.
Members received log-ins for Zooms and they are unlimited and you can take as many as you’d like! Because we are meeting outdoors we can have more than one cohort at a time as long as minimum sq. ft. rules are adhered to.
Please go to the member portal and sign up for the class time you want to attend (only choose one!). Once a class session is full it will disappear from the list, so if you don’t see a time it’s because it’s full. There are more spaces available than there are total fencers in your program, so if your first choice isn’t available, look for your second choice. Log in HERE.
The lesson scheduler is also now open. There are more slots open than lessons that were being booked prior to the lockdown, so you should be able to find what you need. We will continue to evolve as we progress through the (hopefully) last phases of the pandemic.
December 4, 2020
Thank you for responding to our surveys. So many of you took the time to answer that it was heartwarming and humbling. You let us know what you were able and interested in doing, and that has helped us plan with a high degree of confidence. Thank you for that! Here is how we will move forward.
Your responses told us that you would like to see a mix of in-person training and private lessons under the portico, small group sessions for some programs, and Zoom classes for all. There are a lot of you, and the portico is roughly equal to one pod in the area, so it's taking a lot of creative scheduling to get you all in a class, leave time for private lessons, make sure the coaches don't freeze and do it all safely. We are zeroing in on a final schedule and we will send one to the members of each program so you'll know what is up. That will arrive in your mailbox soon.
We have physical space issues to address. We need to secure the portico area with the wind barrier. The materials were ordered earlier this week and should arrive before the end of next week. Once it's here the coaches will put it up and ready the area for classes and lessons. This means our in-person training will resume the week of 12/14 if all goes to plan. There's an outside possibility of getting it going sooner, we'll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, we will continue to have Zoom classes on the same schedule we've been following since the lockdown. A Zoom schedule for next week with links will be sent to members of each program for classes starting Monday.
None of this is ideal, but it is much better than what we were able to do during the last lockdown. There's also a glimmering light at the end of the tunnel. It will be a challenging winter, so don't let your guard down just yet, but take solace in knowing that we will make it to the other side of this together. Watch your inboxes for your schedules!
December 1, 2020
We have another new reality with regards to Covid restrictions and our operations. This was not what we were expecting, nor what was put forth when this recent “freeze” was put in place. We are good at adapting though. Let’s look at the situation and see what we can do together. We want you to have the most content we can provide until we can resume pre-lockdown operations.
First, let’s get to the facts on the ground. Oregon Counties will no longer be in lockdown as of Thursday. Counties will then be classified with one of four risk ratings from Low Risk through Extreme Risk. We are in Washington county, so we will be in the Extreme Risk category. The rules for Extreme Risk counties are much more strict with regards to indoor sports for youth and adults. We thought we might be able to operate our youth fencing classes under the youth program exemption, however, the state firmly closed that door along with the possibility of running a private lesson only model.
There are things we can still do. We are allowed to have physical activities operate outdoors. We can place temporary coverings in between the columns under the portico to make that space wind and rain-free for group or individual instruction. We can offer indoor classroom sessions for bout analysis, tactical discussions, refereeing, armory, etc. without any issues other than expected safety protocols we are already observing. We will be offering Zoom options in addition to anything else we do. It is also possible we can do our lightsaber classes and camps indoors because it’s not a sport, but more of a theater thing.
Follow the appropriate link below for your class survey so we can learn what you are interested in doing, and when your schedule will allow you to participate. We will roll out new schedules next week, and do our Zoom schedule for the rest of this week (Zoom links coming in a separate email).
We are all wondering how long this will last. The honest answer is that no one knows. In order to progress to the next risk category, our county would need to be under 200 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks. Washington County hasn’t been at that rate since mid-October, so it could be a while. An observation: At every turn, NWFC has adapted and worked together with our members to continue to provide you with fencing instruction, physical activity, and the resulting social diversions that we all so desperately need right now. We couldn’t do it without your support. We will continue to sacrifice and do what’s necessary to get to the other side of this together.
Please take a minute or two to do the survey for the class in which you are enrolled. Your input is valuable.
November 18th, 2020
Hello NWFC Community,
As you are likely already aware, NWFC is closing for two weeks due to the current Covid-19 health restrictions issued by the State of Oregon, in the face of the exponentially increasing cases in the area.
We do this in order to meet our primary goals of keeping our fencing families healthy and being fiscally responsible to the club. Although we are necessarily concerned about the potentially severe fines and legal costs associated with getting this wrong, much more importantly, we must do all that we can to prevent a student or family member from becoming ill due to exposure here at the club.
Several parents of fencers have reached out asking us not to close down. Their desire to help us survive and to continue to provide a vital service is appreciated beyond measure. Our reading of the restrictions differs, however, and we felt it would be worthwhile to address that.
Firstly some are not aware that we are in Washington County and not Multnomah County, so the closure is currently for two weeks, not four weeks. We would not have had training for 5 of those days because of the holiday, so as recent closures have gone this one isn’t too bad.
The following have each been cited as a way we might stay open:
- The K-12 approved sports exemption. This exemption applies to school sports like football and track that are currently being allowed. We are not a part of any school system, nor are we an official high school sport in Oregon, so unfortunately this does not apply to us.
- The professional sports exemption. This exemption applies to teams like the Trail Blazers and Timbers, but alas, not to those teaching sports as a profession.
- The youth programs exemption. We are a fencing club serving all ages. Currently, we are serving fencers between 7 and 70+ every day we are open.
- The decisions of other sports clubs, dance schools, etc. to stay open. We’re sure each of these places has their own set of circumstances to consider and their own set of risks they are willing to accept when making decisions. We will keep our focus on NWFC and the mandates mentioned above: protect the member’s health and the club's ability to operate.
Meanwhile, we have scheduled 14 zoom classes and we are not limiting anyone to taking just one or two. You may participate in as many zooms as are offered for your program (CORE, COMP, Adult/Teen Epee, & Youth Beginner). Links have been emailed to class participants.
There is a possibility that the restrictions could be extended. We are considering our options and making plans for that possibility. Should that come to pass we will be ready to act, and we will offer in person training that is compliant with regulations and fulfills our stated mandates if we can. Some of those options might require a reconfiguring of the cohorts and some other operational changes. That may be a bit easier to do than it would have been because of the 14 day break. But the fact remains that we don’t know what will happen, and/or how the restrictions might change.
Rest assured that no one here wants the current shift to zoom classes. We would all prefer to hold in person training. We will hold in person training as soon as we can do it in a way that allows us to operate within the law and with the best safety practices. Your safety and the club’s survival are our mandates. We do not plan to let you down on either count. Thank you for your continued support and patience during trying times. Please stay safe and healthy.
November 13th, 2020
Well, folks, here we go again! New state regulations will require us to stop in-person classes from November 18th through December 2nd. This will only mean 8 total days of missed classes as it will happen over the Thanksgiving holiday. Some of you may only miss one more class than you would have already due to the holiday break.
We’ve been here before, and we all know what to do. At least this time it’ll be short and not two and a half months! NWFC will be holding Zoom classes and adding online content to help you work off the big holiday meals. Watch your inbox for announcements of times and zoom links.
This will be a new experience for those that have joined classes since the summer. Fear not, the zoom classes for students will help them maintain their new skills for this short break.
For those with private lessons booked during the closure, cancel those lessons and they will revert to your lesson book. You’ll be able to book them later. You won’t lose them.
Meanwhile, you have until next Wednesday, so book some extra lessons if you want some extra instruction time before the break.
We all pulled together and made it through a much worse closure this spring. We’ll get through
this one together, too! We got this!!!
The NWFC Team
November 10, 2020
We’re Still Open!
There has been some concern about how the new orders from the governor’s office affect NWFC. The short answer is that they don't. The primary piece of the directive aimed at gyms is to limit maximum capacity to 50 people. We were already operating below that limit as part of our safety plan.
At the beginning of this health crisis our board convened a committee to help identify safe practices for our reopening in June. The committee was comprised of doctors and epidemiologists. Their advice was used to design our approach to creating a safe workout space. Our system has been operating within the guidelines of both the governor’s directives of July and the new guidelines announced earlier this week. Our approach to safety first means we have always met higher standards than were set by the state government.
Some have asked why only 6 people are allowed in the home, but 50 at NWFC? It helps to understand that home heating and ac are designed around keeping the house as airtight as possible. This is energy efficient. Commercial heat and ac is designed to continually exchange fresh outside air for stale inside air. Our system replaces the inside air with fresh outside air approximately 3 times every hour. This is also why it can cost a lot to heat or cool a commercial space. It seems a small price to pay in the face of this viral threat, though, and we are glad that the system works as well as it does.
Train well, train safely, and carry your drive for excellence into all of your endeavors.
May 19, 2020
Hello Fencers and Families,
Given the current restrictions and uncertainties regarding sporting events, gathering, and training, NWFC is canceling the following camps:
- Adult Epee Clinic (May 28-31)
- Pre-National Camp (June 21-25)
- International Foil Camp (July 27 - August 1)
- International Epee Camp (August 3-8)
- Intermediate Foil Camp (August 10-14)
- Beginner Youth Camps (July - August)
The entire coaching staff and the board of directors are working toward a safe and gradual Return to Fencing at the club. We are excited to welcome you back to NWFC and will keep you posted on future camps, classes, lessons, and competitions.
Until we can fence together again, please follow our fencing instruction content on our YouTube Channel.
Thank you all for your support, I am looking forward to seeing you soon.
Simon Abram | Head Coach
March 30, 2020
Dear NWFC Family,
We hope this finds you happy and healthy. We miss you all! Please keep reading for important information about April tuition and a virtual club gathering this Wednesday!
Like the entire country, we are all learning to adapt to change, lots of change, and we know everyone has been impacted. NWFC administrative staff, coaches, and Board are working to sustain the Club through this unprecedented closure.
First and foremost, without member support, we will not be able to meet the pay and benefits for our staff. Therefore, the Board is asking members to consider the value they receive from the Club and their desire to help NWFC through this difficult time. Please continue paying your monthly tuition. This is the most timely and significant assistance as it will help cover operating expenses. After classes resume, tuition will be modified, beginning from April 1, to reflect the closure period amount of tuition converted to a tax-deductible donation. We will automatically process this donation, and you will receive a letter confirming your gift, which may then be used for tax purposes. Please notify us by Friday, April 3, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to STOP your auto-tuition payment on April 5.
NWFC FAMILY GATHERING
Please read the document for full details, answers to frequent questions, and new ways to stay involved and help. 2020.03.30 NWFC Member Q&A
Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you this Wednesday!
March 17, 2020
We are closed until further notice and have no idea when we will reopen. That is the bad news.
The good news is this community is resilient, compassionate, and has a record of achievement on and off the strip. Just last month, we finished an expansion and then hosted our largest and most epic tournament. And we will do it again!
The first steps included the safe closing of the club and then ideas to keep fencers engaged during this situation. The most important thing right now is everyone's ongoing health and safety.
We will be available again on Tuesday, March 24, from 1 pm to 4 pm for locker cleanout, armory repairs, and ordered equipment pickup. If you would like to borrow club equipment for home use until the club reopens, please email Coach Michael (email@example.com) well in advance.
Now more than ever before, we need to pull together as a community. Please watch the Northwest Fencing Center Challenge announcement below, as the coaches are preparing ways to stay connected and fit! We encourage all fencers and families to participate and then invite friends from near and far to join us.
The next steps include communication about many topics, including tuition questions and how you can help. We reduced club staffing to reflect the new operational normal, so please be patient, but do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have not yet read this blog, please do so as we could not have said it anywhere near this eloquently. https://academyoffencingmasters.com/blog/an-open-letter-to-the-usa-fencing-community-about-the-coronavirus-pandemic/
March 16, 2020
NWFC is canceling all classes, private lessons, open bouting, and tournaments effective March 16 until further notice.
The staff is still working and will be using this time to prepare online training and develop other options.
It would be greatly appreciated if all members would remove (and clean) all personal gear so we can continue disinfecting the entire facility. The club is open for gear pick-up between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm today and again on Tuesday, March 17.
As we navigate this uncharted territory together, we ask for your continued patience and support. It is impossible to close any business, including NWFC, without creating hardships for the organization, the staff, and the students.
We could not have said it anywhere near this eloquently, and urge you to please read this: https://academyoffencingmasters.com/blog/an-open-letter-to-the-usa-fencing-community-about-the-coronavirus-pandemic/
We will continue to monitor advice from the CDC, Oregon Health Authority, and local experts, and will implement best-practices accordingly. As this situation evolves, more information will be forthcoming.
In addition to the standards we have all been told about from so many sources, here are the very important additional steps your club continues to prevent exposure:
- We have multiple hand sanitizer stations using a 70% alcohol-based product for use in between washing your hands. Please use them!
- In addition to existing cleaning routines, we are increasing disinfection of all club gear. Masks, gloves, jackets, plastrons etc., are all washed or disinfected after each use. .
- The club continues to provide sanitizing wipes, and we ask for assistance wiping down frequently touched places, your fencer's equipment, doors, tables, etc.
- Parents, please explain to your youth fencers why personal sharing of gear is discouraged.
- While tradition and sportsmanship are important, and such a wonderful aspect of this sport, sadly now is a good time to pause from shaking of hands after bouts.
Thanks for assisting in these efforts as together, we hope to avoid a case of exposure at NWFC!