January 20, 2021

Dear LFS Families,
 
The combined Health & Safety and COVID Steering Committees met on Friday. After careful review of the data and much deliberation, we decided to bring back all students in grades K to 6 on what we are calling a "split day" schedule. This will entail mornings on campus (8:15AM to 12:30PM) when children will be primarily working in their cohorts with their classroom teachers, and afternoons (12:30PM to 3:00PM) when they will be eating lunch and taking specials classes from home. While all of this remains contingent on any changes with the virus, we envision this split day plan beginning on Tuesday, February 9, with Monday, February 8 set aside as a "no school" day for teacher planning and classroom/campus preparation. We envision continuing in this split day mode through at least Friday, March 5, when we will reassess with the hope of bringing the children back for full days on campus. 
 
While the details and a new schedule need to be worked out over the next few days, our belief is that this anticipated month or so of a split day approach best addresses the legitimate health and safety concerns raised in our staff discussions, particularly those concerning eating indoors with students and the teaching of specials classes across our cohorts. By not eating lunch on campus and by installing HEPA filters across all classrooms, we feel that we have added two important safety features that were not in place or as needed this fall when the weather was more mild. 
 
The committee members also believe that this approach balances health and safety concerns with what we are hearing from many of our families, as well as with what we feel makes sense educationally for our students. We are aware that some of our peer independent schools have continued to keep kids on campus all year, although many of these schools have modern buildings with better ventilation systems, as well the resources to support COVID testing programs and/or to simultaneously teach students remotely and in person. We feel that this split day approach fits our capabilities and safety/logistical challenges best, and that it will enable us to endure and thrive through the anticipated coldest weeks of the year and ideally further toward the impending vaccination rollout. 
 
While we are very proud of our distance learning program, we know that it has been less than ideal for students and for families. At the same time, we are mindful of the continuing high rates of COVID, the new strains of the virus, the uncertain timeline of vaccinations for educators and children, and the fact that some schools have seen outbreaks which we have been able to avoid to date. What we have been told by CHOP and the Chester County Health Department is to continue to commit strongly to our health and safety protocols, including our small instructional cohorts, health screenings, mask wearing, frequent hand washing, ventilation, and sanitizing of surfaces. While nothing is a guarantee, we believe that we can build on the successes we had in the fall by doing all of this with your support ... by avoiding in-class lunches, by employing HEPA filters to help keep classrooms safe and sufficiently warm, and by strict adherence to our health and safety protocols. 
 
For the sake of clarity, here’s an overview of key dates related to this announcement:
 
  • Week of Jan. 18: (Mon. Holiday) Distance Learning for All Grades (w/outdoor sessions)
  • Week of Jan. 25: Distance Learning for K-6 (w/outdoor sessions), Anticipated Pre-K Return to Campus
  • Week of Feb. 1: Distance Learning for K-6 (w/outdoor sessions), Pre-K on Campus
  • Week of Feb. 8:
  • Monday, Feb. 8: No School for K-6 (Pre-K in Session on Campus)
  • Tuesday-Thursday, Feb. 9-11: All Students on Campus (Pre-K: Full Day) (K-6 Split Day)
  • Friday, Feb. 12: No School: Scheduled Professional Day
  • Week of Feb 15: (Mon. Holiday) Continuation of Pre-K Full Day and K-6 Split Day
  • Week of Feb. 22: Continuation of Pre-K Full Day and K-6 Split Day
  • Week of March 1: Continuation of Pre-K Full Day and K-6 Split Day
  • Friday, March 5: Re-Evaluation of Split Day Schedule
 
Note that outdoor once-per week sessions will stop once we begin the split day schedule on February 9. EDP will continue to offer on-campus programming for Pre-K and remote programming for students in K-6. 
 
I recognize that a split day schedule will likely present logistical challenges for some families. Please reach out to me or Tr. Linda with any questions or suggestions for how we can make this approach best work for your family. Hopefully having this level of clarity and advance notice about the switch to the split day approach will make this transition a smooth one overall. 
 
Mostly, I want to thank you for the trust you have placed in us during this unprecedented health crisis. I’m also grateful for the creativity and fortitude of our teachers and administrators, as well as the enthusiasm, flexibility, and resilience of our incredible students. For them, we want to do all that we can to make this year a safe and educationally fulfilling one. 
 
Sincerely, 
 
Tr. Neal