May 12, 2020
Dear FSH families,
I hope this letter finds you well, despite the continued strangeness of these days. Spring is one of the most beautiful times on Friends School Haverford’s campus, and it saddens me not to see children climbing up and down Nancy’s House or creating in the mud kitchen. I look forward to returning to campus and watching students soak in the simple joy of being outside with their friends.
As much as I look forward to returning to FSH, I also recognize that there are still uncertainties. I am deeply appreciative that many families have affirmed their commitment to Friends School Haverford (THANK YOU!) and that new families continue to express interest in our small Quaker school with a big heart. I am also grateful for the dialogue and collaboration that has taken place with many of you over the last several weeks. To be responsive to what members of School Committee and I have heard, we will offer families the opportunity to affirm their enrollment contracts up to June 15, 2020.
While we want to provide families with as much additional time as possible, we also need to have a sufficient amount of time to plan carefully for the upcoming school year. Preparation now includes everything from securing necessary PPE to meeting technology needs, from arranging classroom space to purchasing school supplies for potential use at home as well as school. If you re-evaluate your family’s needs and are not able to commit to tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year, please send an email to Lisa Buscaglia stating your withdrawal from the contractual agreement on or before June 15. Should we not hear from you on or before June 15, your signed enrollment contract states you are responsible for the tuition for the full academic year.
In the next several days, I will be in touch with the classroom parents who have reached out to arrange a conversation via Zoom. I look forward to continuing our dialogue and, hopefully, welcoming you all back to FSH in person this September.
Acting Head of School
May 4, 2020
Dear Friends School Haverford families,
I hope you this finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy and enjoying some much-needed sunshine. As we head into May and the final weeks of this academic year, I want to say thank you to all of you for your patience and partnership as we approach two months of distance learning in light of the mandated closure of schools.
At the same time that we're focused on finishing this school year, we have begun to look ahead to the fall with the hope that we can all be back on campus together. As both an educator and a parent, I would like nothing more than to know we will open our doors in the same way we have every September in recent memory. However, of course, our community's health and safety must take precedence.
I'm writing to share with you some of the specific plans we are putting in place for the upcoming academic year. First, I want to share that should the Governor lift the mandated closure of schools in the next few months, Friends School Haverford will be open, and the 2020-2021 school year will begin on campus with the first full day of classes for all students on Monday, August 31st. Orientation days for Heritage House families and Schoolhouse students will take place during the last full week of August. More details will follow, and we will, of course, update you over the summer.
Second, I want to share a formal copy of our Distance Learning Plan
. I hope it provides all families, nursery-8th grade, a complete picture of how Distance Learning currently takes place and the changes we anticipate making given the possibility of further mandated closure during the upcoming school year. I also hope this gives you a sense not just of your own child's experience this spring, but of how we will continue to strive to deliver a Friends School Haverford education to all of our students when we cannot be on campus. I want to provide you with as much information as possible while acknowledging that the weeks and months ahead will continue to play an essential role in our understanding of the best daily schedules for children in each division as well as the best platforms for our program. Our Distance Learning Plan must remain dynamic and nimble as we strive to serve our students best. As educators, it would be foolish of us to think we're done learning and that we know all we need to know.
Third, in acknowledgment of the fact that our youngest students and their families face specific challenges as they engage with distance learning, as well as the various half- and full-day program options in our early childhood program, I'm sharing information about tuition remission for Heritage House families
in the 2020-2021 school year.
I trust you know that as an educator and a parent, I recognize the difficulties all of our families face in light of the continued uncertainty about when and how school will resume. I empathize with the decisions that parents need to make without greater clarity. While I cannot offer you certainty, I hope this provides you with more information as you look toward September and the school year ahead.
Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you at Friends School Haverford again soon.
Acting Head of School
With Governor Wolf’s announcement last week that all Pennsylvania schools will remain closed until the end of the academic year, it feels right to reach out to the Friends School Haverford community with a message of gratitude and solidarity. We are inspired to see everyone standing together in the face of so much uncertainty. Without a doubt, we all share a sense of anger and frustration over the many disruptions that we face each day as we seek to hold our families, livelihoods, and communities together.
We want to extend our gratitude to every member of the faculty, staff and school leadership for their laser focus over the last weeks. With almost no advanced notice, they completely redesigned how our program happens in the blink of an eye, pivoting from in-class to technology-based instruction to continue to provide an excellent learning experience for your children throughout the remainder of this school year. We also want to acknowledge the fortitude you and your family exhibit as you make significant sacrifices each day.
The School’s leadership team and School Committee have been working diligently to pivot as needed in order to continue to meaningfully serve our students, support our families, and maintain our unique and deep sense of community. We have been in constant communication the past several weeks working to address the immediate situation as well as looking ahead in light of the reality that COVID 19 will not recede into the distance any time soon. We thank you for your patience and support during this time. We want to outline some of the steps we have already taken as well as what to expect over the next several weeks:
March 29, 2020
Dear FSH families--
As we continue the practice of social distancing, I hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy. In these final days of Spring Break, I also hope that you and your children have distinguished this past week spent at home in some creative ways. In our house, we’ve pitched a tent, slept in different beds, and watched far too many movies while trying out different popcorn toppings. I wish all of us luck as we attempt to bring some kind of end to this stay-cation while still staying put.
As you know, the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued an order keeping all schools closed in Pennsylvania until at least April 6, and perhaps longer. In light of this, Friends School Haverford will continue with its distance learning plan. Classes will resume this Tuesday, March 31, and will continue for at least the next several weeks. In consultation with our School Committee as well as local and federal guidelines, I will evaluate the possibility of returning to campus on a biweekly basis, and I will provide an update on Friday, April 10.
Over the last two weeks, including countless hours of Spring Break, the faculty and staff at Friends School Haverford have been working to bring our mission-driven classrooms online and into our homes. As all of you who have made the shift to working from home know, this has been no easy feat. I am truly honored and humbled by their continued efforts, even in the face of these unsettling, uncertain times. Our faculty and staff share the belief that your child’s ability to continue working with their teachers and that your family’s opportunity to stay connected to the FSH community is as important now as it has ever been. This belief has fueled us in the creation of a virtual Friends School Haverford that we will continue to build and expand on in the weeks to come. We may not be able to gather on campus, but beginning on Tuesday morning, we will most certainly be learning and growing together once again.
You will find the details of our return to FSH Online below. At this unpredictable and unprecedented time, we are, as ever, grateful for your partnership. I speak for everyone at FSH when I say I’m looking forward to seeing your children again on Tuesday morning.
Acting Head of School
On Monday, you will receive an email from your child’s classroom teacher about your child’s daily schedule as well as details regarding daily attendance, how to turn in activities & assignments, and a parental consent form for distance learning.
You will also receive an email from Nancy Hurley or Mwazhuwa Kuretu that will contain your child’s unique code to access Seesaw, a digital portfolio platform. Seesaw is a platform that will be used as follows:
- For students in Nursery-2nd grade, this is the platform for teachers to share asynchronous videos along with accompanying learning activities/assignments. It is also where you will help your child submit photos, videos, drawings, and documents to their teacher.
- For students in Kindergarten-8th grade, Seesaw will be the platform for Coordinate teachers to post videos and distribute and receive student work.
For students in 3rd-8th grade, Google Classroom will continue to be the central platform for their work in core subject areas.
The FSH Online site will continue to be the centerpiece of the Friends School Haverford community. In addition to class schedules, Zoom meeting IDs, and other essential details, you will continue to find read-alouds, extension activities, and general learning resources. We will also be adding a Meeting for Worship feature each Thursday, an FSH Kindness board, and an FSH Spirit Challenge each week.
After the first few days back online, your child’s teacher will reach out to connect with students in groups of 2 or 3. Teachers will also resume regular class communication with parents at the end of this first week! Keep your eyes peeled for the return of the Weekly Update this week as well.
If you have a technology-related need, question, or problem, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
so that we can ensure you and your child stay connected.
March 19, 2020
Dear FSH families--
I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. In trying to adjust to this very different experience, I’ve been leaning into the silence created by this unprecedented global full-stop. I’ve also been filled with gratitude to everyone in the Friends School Haverford community for quickly and thoroughly embracing our FSH Online platform.
Today will be the last day of virtual schooling as we commence Spring Break. While it may not be happening in a different physical space, I hope that the break gives you and your family time to unplug, connect, and rest. As a reminder, I will be in touch next Friday, March 27, to share information about our potential return to campus. If we are unable to return to school on Tuesday, March 31, I will share with you more detailed information about FSH Online, including a daily schedule for virtual learning for all of our students, nursery-Grade 8.
I will continue to hold the entire Friends School Haverford community in light and love as this public health crisis continues to unfold. Such challenge and uncertainty only strengthen my commitment to Quaker education and our small school with an enormous heart.
Acting Head of School
March 15, 2020
Dear FSH families--
FSH Online is now available to all of our families so that we can stay connected this week and begin to get a sense of how distance learning might look and feel should we be unable to return to campus after Spring Break. Between now and tomorrow morning, you will receive instructions from your child’s classroom teacher about the various ways in which FSH Online will guide your child’s learning this week. For students in Nursery-Second Grade, teachers will use FSH Online, a Google Site, to share resources. In grades 3-8, teachers will use Google Classroom, a platform students are already familiar with, to connect with students. Coordinate teachers for all grades will use FSH Online.
If you have any technical questions regarding FSH Online, please contact Lisa Buscaglia
. If you have any academic questions, please contact your child's teacher or Tippi Aronson
Director of Admission
March 15, 2020
Dear FSH families,
I’m writing to share more details about this week’s introduction to FSH Online.
First, though, I want to thank you for your flexibility and patience at this challenging, unprecedented time. As a working parent myself, I recognize that my child’s learning is just one of the foundational supports that school offers. I know that schools provide invaluable opportunities for socialization and human connection, as well as safe places for children to be nurtured and supervised while their family members go to work. Closing school buildings for any period creates complications and difficulties for those of us who work all day, and I want to acknowledge that and express both my empathy and gratitude to all of you for working out contingency plans.
Within the hour, FSH Online will be available to all of our families so that we can stay connected this week and begin to get a sense of how distance learning might look and feel should we be unable to return to campus after Spring Break. Between now and tomorrow morning, you will receive instructions from your child’s classroom teacher about the various ways in which FSH Online will guide your child’s learning this week. For students in Nursery-Second Grade, teachers will use a Google Site to share resources. In grades 3-8, teachers will use Google Classroom, a platform students are already familiar with, to connect with students.
For all students, there will be a "live" component to their learning this week, using the Zoom platform. For younger students, these Zoom conferences will serve as a chance to touch base and share in a kind of virtual Circle Time. For students in Schoolhouse, these Zoom conferences will provide a time for them to connect with teachers as they work on the packet of academic work that teachers sent home last week. Please know that you do not need to organize your family's schedule around these sessions; we see these sessions as opportunities for connection rather than required experiences.
In addition to the resources we provided last week, we hope that this combination of synchronous and asynchronous lessons and activities, along with a broad collection of online resources that you'll find in Tr. Tippi's section of the site, will provide a meaningful experience for all our students. We hope that students throughout the school (with support from an adult in the younger grades) will participate with us online this week.
As you familiarize yourself with the FSH Online site, please know that it is a work in progress, as teachers are adding components and resources to the site if we cannot return to school as planned on Tuesday, March 31.
Please know that at any time, you can reach out to anyone at Friends School Haverford, from your child’s classroom teachers, coordinate teachers, support coaches, our administrative team, as well as me. We will be available via email throughout the week to answer questions, to troubleshoot technological hiccups, and to provide any assistance that we can. I will plan to be in communication with you on Friday, March 27, to update you on our plan to resume classes on campus at the end of Spring Break. It is my genuine hope that we will be able to return to school as scheduled on Tuesday morning, March 31, but there are still many things we don’t know about this evolving public health crisis.
Again, I’m grateful to you and your family for your flexibility at this largely unanticipated moment in our nation’s history. I’m also profoundly grateful to our faculty, who are continuing to work hard to deliver a Friends School Haverford education in this new way. As a teacher for over 20 years, I’ve often remarked that schools have a life beyond any one group of people or one generation of students--after all, FSH has been standing for 135 years. At the same time, though, I’m acutely aware that the power of a great school resides not in its buildings or its physical space, but in the hearts and minds of those who know and love it. I speak for everyone at FSH when I say I look forward to being back together with your children on campus as soon as possible. I also know that Friends School Haverford continues within us and between us, regardless of where we are.
May your entire family remain healthy and safe in the days ahead. Take care, friends.
Acting Head of School
March 13, 2020
Dear FSH families--
Faculty and staff spent today creating initial materials for FSH Online. On Sunday evening, I will send all FSH families an introduction to FSH Online and an initial schedule for the four days of school coming up next week, March 16-19. Spring Break will officially begin on Friday, March 20.
For all students, nursery-8, there will be four components to next week’s distance learning:
- Your child will have access to an online digital library for their class through the platform, Epic! For these initial days of virtual learning, you and your children are encouraged to explore the many resources available via this platform. Teachers will also create an online “bookshelf” for their specific classes, choosing “just-right” books for their group of students.
- Each member of the faculty has made a video for your children to watch to welcome them into this virtual experience. These are asynchronous resources for children and families to use in the next four days. This will allow your children to remain connected to the teachers at FSH at a time that’s convenient for you.
- Each member of the faculty will hold a live Zoom conference that your child can join via the Internet.
- In addition to these pieces, the packet of work sent home earlier this week (for K-8) and the resources shared by Heritage House teachers are the focus of students’ learning this week. We encourage all FSH students to devote time each day to complete these activities and/or academic work.
The upcoming week will serve as a “beta” test for FSH Online. We want students, parents, and teachers to practice accessing and using these digital tools. This will give everyone a sense of the basics of distance learning as well as help us to identify and solve the hiccups we encounter along the way. As your children use these initial tools and resources this week, teachers will be creating more online materials and building digital classrooms should we need to use them in April.
To prepare for Monday’s online learning, please create a free Zoom
account. This is what will allow your children to “live” conference with their teachers next week. You will receive an email on Sunday with a schedule for your child’s class/grade and links to all of the resources described above.
This will be a learning curve for all of us, so we kindly ask for your patience. If you have technical difficulties accessing any aspect of FSH Online, please contact Lisa Buscaglia
On behalf of the faculty and staff at FSH, I am sending light and love to all of our families at this difficult moment. For 135 years, Friends School Haverford has earned a special place in the hearts of thousands of teachers, students, and families. I know that the same will be true for the weeks ahead, and we hope to be back on campus with our students soon.
In light and love,
Acting Head of School
March 12, 2020
Dear Friends School Haverford families--
In light of today’s new information about the potential community spread of COVID-19, Friends School Haverford will close tomorrow, beginning at 3 pm.
Tomorrow, Friday, March 13, faculty and staff will report to campus to work on creating digital lessons to move classroom learning online. For those who registered, Vacation Care will be available until 3 pm tomorrow. We will close at 3 pm tomorrow, and there will be no events, classes, or vacation care.
On Monday, March 16, you will receive instructions about how to access FSH Online. This will include digital resources as well as scheduled “live” teaching using Zoom. Monday will be a trial-run of FSH Online, and we will ask families to provide feedback. There are bound to be hiccups as we practice rolling out digital learning. Still, we look forward to working together to make sure students at FSH continue to receive thoughtful, meaningful, and individualized educational experiences.
On Tuesday-Thursday of next week, your child should complete the three days of work they brought home yesterday. We will provide Zoom conferences again for a “live” check-in with the classroom teacher each day. These Zoom conferences will also offer a chance for students to connect with their classmates. While this is not the same as being together in-person, we believe it will help maintain the social connection of the school day.
Spring Break will begin on Friday, March 20. Over the break, the Core Team of administrators will meet to determine if FSH should re-open at the end of our scheduled break or if we will need to continue with FSH Online. You will receive updates via email and our Parent Alert system.
This is a difficult time for people around the globe. As a Quaker school, we are always called to take action on behalf of our human family, particularly those who are vulnerable. While closing school presents all of us with unforeseen challenges, it is the most critical step we can take on behalf of the health and well-being of others.
With gratitude for your support,
Acting Head of School
Parent-Teacher Conferences for students in K-8 scheduled for Friday, 3/13, will be postponed to a later date as will the Faculty Appreciation Luncheon. Friday will be a PD day for teachers as we continue to develop digital learning resources and lessons in the event of a potential school closure.
Vacation Care will happen this Friday, March 13th, but will end at 3 pm due to staffing. As you know, many of our XD staffers are students at Haverford College. The College has closed its dormitories until April 6, 2020. We will continue to provide updates about XD for next week. Families should make contingency plans to pick their children up at dismissal if needed.
This afternoon, students in K-8 have been given an envelope that contains materials for them to use at home should we need to close school. These materials are not homework to be done over this weekend, but for students to work on during a potential closure. Please keep the packet at home in a safe place.
Any student whose family indicated the need for a device will be given a Chromebook today. Your child should bring this to and from school each day. MS students who already bring home their computers will continue to do so.
As we make plans for any potential school closure, we ask that you do the same. We will continue to follow the directives of the PA Health Department as well as the CDC. Given the rapid rate at which this situation is unfolding, we are not likely to provide families with much lead time in announcing a closure. If you haven’t already, please begin to make plans for alternate childcare if needed.
Later today, you will find this and all future updates under the Parents section of our website (in the upper right corner of our homepage).
March 10, 2020
Dear FSH Families:
In light of the continuing concerns regarding COVID-19, I am reaching out to update you on the steps that Friends School Haverford is taking as we learn of more cases of the virus in Pennsylvania and in our immediate area.
As of today, we have no reason to believe that any student, faculty, or staff member has been exposed to COVID-19. We continue to look to both the CDC as well as local health agencies for information, particularly in relation to the potential need to close school. A short term-closure would involve closing FSH for one-three days for the purpose of deep cleaning should we learn of probable exposure to the virus. A long-term closure would mean closing FSH for a week or more as mandated by the PA Department of Health or other officials.
In both cases, our decisions will be made in conjunction with our Haverford Township School District nurses, MaryMellon Somers and Charlene Turner, as well as in consultation with local health officials. We appreciate that any school closure creates a challenging situation for our families and will not make such decisions lightly. In the event of a school closure, this would include suspending Extended Day and Vacation Care programs.
This afternoon, lead teachers for grades K-8 will meet to share resources with one another and to plan for the possibility of both a short and long-term school closure. Faculty will gather materials to send home with your child later this week to have on hand in the event of a short-term closure. Should we need to close for a more extended period, faculty will gather electronic resources for your family to access at home. For students in grades 5-8, this would be distributed via Google Classroom, as already happens in our MS program. For students in grades K-4, resources would be shared via a parent/guardian’s email address. For students in grades K-4, any digital learning would take place alongside a parent or an adult.
To this end, if you would please complete this brief survey
, we will begin to prepare the necessary resources should FSH need to be closed.
For students in nursery-PreK, our program is driven by exploration, experiential learning, and social interactions, none of which can be distributed electronically or recreated in a virtual world. Heritage House teachers will compile an age-appropriate list of activities to serve as a resource for families should we be required to close school.
As we head toward Spring Break, we will continue to assess the situation. We will keep you informed of any program or calendar changes (including our Meeting for Singing event next Friday, 3/20).
Over the break, if you or a member of your household travel to any of the locations identified as a risk for COVID-19 exposure
, we ask that you keep your child at home for 14 days. (Currently, these locations include China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong.) If you have reason to believe you or a member of your household have been exposed to the virus, please contact FSH immediately. This will allow us to connect you directly with our nurses to ensure we are following best practices to support you, your family, and the community of Friends School Haverford.
As a final reminder, if your child exhibits a cough, fever, or cold or flu-like symptoms, please keep them at home. If we see these symptoms in your child during the school day, we will contact you and ask that you pick your child up as quickly as possible to prevent exposing others.
I appreciate your patience as this evolving public health crisis unfolds. As of the writing of this letter, the number of cases in our immediate area does not warrant the cancellation of school. However, as you know, the situation changes daily. In light of this, I’ve included guidelines created by the National Association of School Nurses and School Psychologists for talking to children about this specific health concern.
I will continue to keep you informed and aware of how the situation will impact Friends School Haverford.
Acting Head of School
February 28, 2020
Dear FSH families:
As you know, federal health officials have reported that it is likely just a matter of time before COVID-19 spreads to some degree in the US. I want to reassure you that, along with our nurses from the Haverford Township School District, we are monitoring the situation and will continue to look to the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health for additional information. There is currently no reason to suspect the coronavirus will specifically impact the Friends School Haverford community.
We want to use this as an opportunity to remind you about some best practices to avoid spreading any infection:
- Frequently clean hands with soap and water (for 20 seconds) or use alcohol-based hand rub when soap and water are not readily available;
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick;
- Err on the side of caution and have your children remain home if they are exhibiting contagious symptoms such as fever, cough, or sneezing;
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces;
- If you have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, seek medical care, and share recent travel history with your healthcare provider.
On Monday, classroom teachers will review the importance of hand-washing, including best methods, in age-appropriate ways, emphasizing staying healthy and germ-free. Beginning next week, we will suspend the custom of shaking hands at the end of Meeting for Worship and simply say good morning to one another at the rise of meeting. Our cleaners will continue to clean doorknobs and light switches as part of their daily cleaning process; teachers will continue to wipe down surfaces in their classrooms as well.
Lastly, please note that we will be erring on the side of caution when it comes to children who report or exhibit cold or flu-like symptoms; we will ask families to pick their children up from school in a timely fashion as necessary. Students need to be fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of medicine) before returning to school.
Should our region experience increased risk for infection and a school closure become necessary, we will notify families using the same Parent Alert system we use for weather-related closings.
Again, we are not currently at risk, and we will be monitoring the situation in case that assessment changes. The link below will direct you to the CDC website with additional information about COVID-19. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call your health care provider.
Acting Head of School