MATHCOUNTS Chapter & State Coordinators,
Thank you for your patience over the past several weeks as we considered the results of September’s Coordinator Survey and the feedback we’ve received. Based on those survey results and discussions we’ve had with many of you, it became apparent that a substantial number of coordinators (1) remain concerned about the potential health risks to participants and volunteers attending large, indoor gatherings and/or (2) face significant challenges in securing a venue for your Chapter and/or State Competitions and navigating COVID-related obstacles with volunteers, students, parents and coaches.
We sent the survey to 648 coordinators and received responses from 366 coordinators. Thank you!
- Of 281 chapter and state coordinators who had already begun planning their events, more than half noted it would be impossible or more difficult to find a venue this year due to capacity limitations, COVID-related restrictions, school requirements, liability concerns and other factors.
- 50% of chapter and state coordinators who noted a preference for either in-person or virtual competitions chose the latter. A significant number of coordinators who indicated a preference for in-person also mentioned in the Additional Comments section a concern about in-person competitions, even though that was their personal preference.
Since the survey, the national staff has met with the Coordinator Council to discuss options to address these concerns and to determine how best to proceed with this year’s Competition Series.
Program Year 2021-2022 Changes
First, this was an unbelievably tough decision to make. We were fortunate to have many different perspectives represented in our discussions; this made the discussions much better, but more difficult to reach a consensus. Please know everyone approached these decisions with the goal of doing what was right not only for the students, but also for MATHCOUNTS volunteers.
After careful consideration, (1) we do not believe we can require students to attend in-person events for the Chapter Competition this February and (2) we do not believe we can expect—or ask—500 chapter coordinators to each be responsible for hosting a large, in-person event. Therefore:
- The official Chapter Competition will be hosted online for the 2021-2022 program year. State Competitions and the National Competition are still being planned as in-person events.
- For chapter coordinators who are eager to host an in-person event and know they can do so safely, MATHCOUNTS will encourage, support and provide resources for unofficial, fun competition events in chapters. (MATHCOUNTS will provide Sprint, Target, Team and CDR materials.)
- Advancement requirements to the State Competition will change. The required minimum from each chapter will change from “the top team and top two individuals not on the winning team” to “the top four individuals” on the Chapter Competition. State coordinators are encouraged to include more students, if possible. Starting with the minimum of the top four students, we can return to state coordinators setting their own advancement requirements, keeping in mind requirements must be consistent for every chapter within the state.
We fully recognize the tremendous benefit in-person competitions have for our students, coaches and volunteers. We were so hopeful to return to the normal MATHCOUNTS competition framework this year. However, numerous obstacles and considerations are keeping us from returning “to normal” all at once. That said, we will take significant steps toward “normal” this year by (1) planning for in-person state and national competitions and (2) supporting unofficial, in-person events at the local level, but the official Chapter Competition will be online.
As a national organization that supports over 500 local programs, 56 state programs and tens of thousands of middle school students nationwide and overseas, we have a tremendous obligation to consider the health and safety of our volunteers and students and to ensure a level of consistency in the implementation of the Competition Series. We considered numerous hybrid options, as well, but there was no hybrid option our staff could execute fairly and effectively.
We anticipate many questions and are eager to share our thinking with you. To that end, we’ve provided a separate document with many questions/answers/explanations. There are still many details to work out and not every question will be addressed at this time, but we felt it was critical to share this change as soon as possible so coordinators, coaches and students can adjust their planning and expectations accordingly.
Notification of this change will go out to registered coaches and the public on Wednesday, October 27. We will copy coordinators on the email to registered coaches so coordinators know when it was sent and what was communicated. Please allow us the opportunity to share this information with coaches and refrain from sharing this news until then. We will make it clear this change was just made and chapter coordinators will likely need time to determine whether they can host an unofficial chapter event. We encourage chapter coordinators to reach out to their registered coaches shortly after coaches are notified of the change to reassure them you will be in touch and share details as you have them.
In the coming weeks, we will be scheduling a coordinator webinar to share more details and answer questions. Until then, please review the information in the attached document and feel free to direct any immediate questions you may have to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, we appreciate your support, we value your commitment, and we look forward to working with you to make this year’s program a success.
Kristen Chandler, CAE