The one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic is one of mixed emotions, with losses, to be sure, but also possibilities that might not have otherwise presented themselves. Thankfully, here at Friends Select, our careful planning and diligent efforts as a community have given us good reason to be proud of all we've accomplished, and optimistic about the rest of this school year. As you can see from our "Swiss cheese" model of COVID-19 mitigation, our multi-layered approach to maintaining health and safety is proving effective. Ongoing sentinel testing has not found any positive cases within the school, and positivity rates (both for our community and for Philadelphia in general) continue to decline. Our employees have been receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, and by spring break, more than 80% of employees will be vaccinated. 

As the leading COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations continue to evolve, with more research showing lower risk within schools and changes in distancing recommendations, we are planning a gradual return for all students who wish to attend Friends Select in person following spring break. Here are the highlights of our plans:
  • Beginning Tuesday, April 6, students in grades 7 and 8 are invited to return to the building for in-person instruction. 
    • We will be moving away from brown and gold groups for 7th and 8th graders.
    • All middle school students will be able to be in our Parkway building 5 days a week. 
  • Upper school students will have a more staggered return to in-person learning following spring break. Starting tentatively with the class of 2021 on April 6, more classes and students will be welcomed back 4 days a week. 
    • More specifics about how a staggered return to 4-day-a-week learning might look will be communicated the week of April 6. We are still waiting on data from families so that we can make an informed decision. 
  • We will continue to accommodate families who prefer iSelectLearning for their students over in-person instruction.
We thank you for your continued support during this exciting transition. Again, our careful planning for all students to be able to return to school safely is dependent on your continued partnership. As I wrote in my previous letter, we are relying on all members of our community to adhere to our recommendations regarding travel and high-risk activities during spring break. Together, we have done a commendable job of prioritizing the health and safety of our entire community since the pandemic began. Let's continue to do so now.

Michael Gary
Head of School