This page contains important information and resources with respect to the COVID-19 virus (coronavirus) for the Friends School Community. All information that we receive will be posted here with the exception of emergency communication. In the event of an emergency, information will be relayed through ParentSquare via text, email, and voicemail.
May 19, 2020
Dear Friends School Community,
Thank you for all you have done this spring to support our students and our community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day we are inspired by the pictures and stories you share with us, and we continue to be grateful for all of your efforts in partnering with us in your child’s education. We miss you and your children and look forward to a time when we can be back together.
Friends has been a leader in responding to school building closures and our remote learning program has continued to evolve since our launch on the week of March 16, with many lessons learned and innovations discovered. Still, we have more to learn, and would appreciate your feedback. All parents will receive a survey this week. We hope you will take this opportunity to share your thoughts on remote learning with us to help inform our work as we continue to plan for next year. At Friends School we know that it takes a village – students, faculty and staff, and families working together will result in an outstanding school experience no matter what the global situation may be.
This week’s communication outlines our planning process and possible scenarios for this fall.
The Community Board and our Senior Leadership Team have been working together to make sound decisions during this time, guided by local, state, and national health organizations. We participate in regular calls to learn more about the outlook and timing of the return to in-person learning in our area. Like you, we would like nothing more than to have a clear picture of what school will look like this fall, however, with the guidelines continuing to take shape, this is not yet possible.
All decisions made at Friends School, including reimagining the 2020-2021 school year for preschool-8th grade, are guided by our mission and our values. Our decisions are guided by what is best for children, with connection, health & well-being (physical, mental, social), and learning in balance. As we consider social distancing and remote learning scenarios, we will approach all of our planning creatively and with innovative mindsets.
That said, we can share the following regarding our planning for the fall:
COLLABORATING WITH LOCAL AND STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS
Friends is planning for school to resume for the 2020-2021 school year, and we continue to gather more information regarding in-person learning. Governor Polis will set the minimum requirements that must exist for schools to resume in-person learning and Boulder County Public Health and Environment (BCPHE) will determine if Boulder County schools need stronger requirements due to local conditions. As such, the decision to open Boulder County schools to in-person learning may largely reside with Boulder County officials and we intend to adhere to health and safety guidelines shared by the state and Boulder County Public Health and Environment.
State and local health officials are looking at the following indicators as they formulate their decision for re-opening schools to in-person learning:
- Transmission of the virus is controlled
- Local hospitals are able to treat all patients needing hospitalization
- Testing is widely available, including contact tracing
- Outbreak risks are minimized
- Adequate preventative measures are in place
- Schools have the information and guidance needed to adhere to requirements
SCENARIOS FOR FALL
Friends is planning for three potential scenarios for the fall, which we will continue to refine throughout the summer. Ultimately, each scenario will eventually transition into your child returning to campus to enjoy and benefit from in-person learning:
- Resume in-person learning in August.This is the hoped-for scenario. Please note in-person learning will likely look different in the foreseeable future and will include “health and safety protocols” listed below.
- Fully remote learning in August.We will be able to benefit from two months of our collective Friends remote learning experiences to build an even better remote learning program.
- Combination of #1 and #2 in a hybrid learning environment.This scenario includes the possibility that we might offer both in-person and remote learning, or we might begin in one mode and move to another as allowed or required by state or local directives.
To address the varying possibilities within each scenario, the senior administrative team has been gathering guidelines and setting the frame for mapping out each scenario. In early June we will collect feedback from families and teachers based on experiences from this spring. Please help us with these decisions by completing the parent surveys that will be sent this week. Faculty will then be invited to join planning task forces that will develop the details for each plan.
PREPARATION FOR THE FALL
The task forces will consider our health and safety protocols, well-being, educational programs, events and rituals, facilities, and finance so that we can be prepared for what awaits in the fall.
- Health and Safety Protocols
Friends will implement a variety of health and safety measures to do our part to minimize the spread of the virus if we are able to resume any form of in-person learning. It is important to note that these guidelines only represent a small portion of what we may be asked to follow and Boulder County and/or the State of Colorado may have additional requirements. While guidance continues to be developed, we are considering these measures:
- Health and hygiene measures, including daily temperature/health screenings, face masks, physical distancing rules (such as desks 6 feet apart), limiting access to buildings, cleaning and disinfecting high touch areas, frequent hand washing, and more.
- Class sizes of 10 or fewer students.
- Protocols for isolating and responding to presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in our community.
- Staggered arrival/dismissal schedule and locations. For example not using a single entrance for all students, but instead making use of the individual classroom doors to the outside for entrance and exit from school.
- Reimagining the use of all indoor and outside spaces to maximize opportunities for social distancing.
- Limiting of shared materials
- Reimagining school gatherings (Gatherings, recess, special events, etc.)
As is the tradition at Friends, when school resumes in August (no matter what the format), we will start the year with relationship-building, getting to know each child, team-building, focusing on connection and building community. Social-emotional learning is always at the heart of Friends School and in a remote learning setting we will continue to support you and your child and do our best to nurture the social and emotional wellbeing of our community.
- Educational Programs
We will use our collective expertise and lessons learned from our current experience with remote learning, feedback from teachers and families, and insight gathered from our peers to determine what works best for our students in each grade. In the first few weeks of school we will assess each student, as we always do, to determine how and where each student finished the 2019-2020 school year. We evaluate both individual students and entire grade levels to understand more deeply what each child will most benefit from moving forward. We will adjust our curriculum as needed. Curricula will be designed to be fun, challenging and exciting both in person and remotely and will include a variety of individual and group project-based work, and synchronous and asynchronous instruction opportunities for our students.
- Events & Rituals
While social distancing and group limits are in place, Friends will do our best to uphold the events and rituals that are so special to our community. Although they may look a little different while we are under social restrictions, we understand the importance of the rituals that make Friends unique and are currently planning how they might look under remote scenarios.
The above scenarios and health and safety protocols will challenge us to take a hard look at our facilities to ensure that we have what we need to serve our children and our families under these circumstances. We will be thinking carefully about the operational nature of all existing facilities to determine how or if they need to change. We will consider remodeling and furniture and equipment purchases that might be necessary to comply with health and safety regulations, and we will be studying ways in which we can utilize facilities to support the evolving nature of school in the 2020-2021 school year. We are developing enhanced cleaning protocols per health officials guidance and will provide disinfecting products in all shared spaces. In addition, we will carefully review our school technology to ensure it is set up to serve teaching and learning in 2020-2021.
School finance in both the public and private school realm has been impacted significantly by the pandemic. While Friends has felt the effects as well, prudent Board and school leadership decisions have left us in a position to weather the storm. We will leverage Board and school leadership expertise to consider the pandemic’s impact on enrollment, cash flow, reserves, and fundraising. Already we have offered families the opportunity to change their tuition payment plans and to move out tuition payments. We have also increased financial assistance and created the COVID-19 Friends School Emergency Assistance Program to help families most severely impacted by the pandemic. Although we are not immune, with our projected fall enrollment we have the capacity to absorb the bumps that lie ahead and we expect to make it through the pandemic in good standing.
If your family could use financial assistance to continue with Friends School for the 2020-2021 school year, please consider applying for our COVID-19 Friends School Emergency Assistance Program. Its sole purpose is to help families deeply impacted by this crisis and we welcome your inquiry. Contact Liz Eckstein for details.
We cannot know at this time what the fall will look like for our world, our town or our school but we do know that Friends School will continue to challenge minds by making sure our students are learning and growing, nurture spirits by connecting with them and making sure they are seen, known and appreciated, and honor individuality by meeting them where they are and having the flexibility to celebrate each child and their learning.
We know that this letter is not wholly representative of the challenges we will face, but we hope that it provides you with some degree of clarity now and as we move into the late spring and early summer. We will continue to provide regular updates as the summer progresses. We will not live in this remote mode forever, and we eagerly anticipate the day when all of our students, teachers and families can return safely to campus. Until then, let’s stay in touch and continue to enhance this great community upon which this school was built.
Head of School
Past communication to the Friends School community:
January 31, 2020
February 27, 2020
March 6, 2020
March 10, 2020
March 11, 2020
March 12, 2020 – 12:30am
March 12, 2020 – statement to the press
March 12, 2020 – 9:00pm
March 13, 2020
March 16, 2020
March 18, 2020
March 20, 2020
March 30, 2020
April 2, 2020
April 7, 2020
April 14, 2020
April 20, 2020
May 19, 2020
- Center for Disease Control (CDC): Coronavirus Website
- World Health Organization (WHO): Coronavirus information
- WHO answers coronavirus questions: “Myth Busters” page
- U.S. State Department: Travel advisories.
- Fodor’s: Travel advice
- CDC and Children’s Hospital Colorado: Chart to guide parents regarding keeping children home from school
- NBC News: How to talk to children about coronavirus
- NPR: Concise info in cartoon form, “What Kids Want To Know About Coronavirus”
- John Hopkins Medicine: Coronavirus Disease 2019 vs. the Flu
- Scientific American: Why preparation is important
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)
- CDPHE | COVID-19 Data Dashboard
- CDPHE Covid-19 Info Site
- CDPHE 2019 novel Coronavirus Fact Sheet 2.5.20
- Boulder County Public Health
- CDPHE order closing restaurants, theaters, casinos 3/16/2020
- Boulder County Resources
- COHelp Information Line at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911
STATE EXECUTIVE ORDERS
- D 2020 091 – Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors, 6/1/2020
- D2020 021-P-12 Ordering Suspension of Normal In-Person Instruction through 4/30/20
- CDPHE order closing restaurants, theaters, casinos 3/16/2020
- D 2020 007 Ordering Suspension of Normal In-Person Instruction through 4/17/20
- Social Distancing Public Health Order
- Strategic Approach to COVID-19 Testing
Advice from Dr. James Robb, MD, one of the first molecular virologists in the world to study coronavirus (click image below)