I sincerely hope this update finds you well, and in good health. Today, I have a brief update to share with you about our work in the Philippines as well as our operational pause in light of COVID-19.
With respect to the global pandemic, our top priority is and will continue to be the health, safety, and well-being of our staff, volunteers and the communities we serve. For this reason, effective March 12th, All Hands and Hearts temporarily suspended all operations, withdrawing over 400 staff and volunteers from seven program locations in the US and around the world in 72 hours. After careful consideration, our leadership team has now determined that it is unlikely we will be able to restart our volunteer-driven operations before September 2020. However, our commitments to beneficiary communities remain resolute. As of September 1, we expect to begin reopening programs on a case-by-case basis, based on local government guidelines and the advice of medical experts.
As for Agani and Dadda Elementary Schools, our focus has shifted to what we can do right now for the children still waiting for a safe space to learn. Our teams had made incredible progress at both sites prior to our operational pause, however, the schools were not yet ready to be used. We are working with a contractor to complete these classrooms once they can safely do so. We are also reviewing the timing for the “completion phase” with the expectation that our local contractor must ensure there is a safe, finished school ahead of the 2020 typhoon season.
I look forward to keeping you updated as plans progress, and the situation surrounding COVID-19 evolves.