Table of Contents

Sept 10
Return to school
From the Interim Head of School

Dear LFS Families,

Last Friday I shared with you our plan to offer a return to on-campus learning this fall. With our small student body, our ability to flex our schedule to keep children in small groups throughout the day, and our outdoor spaces, we believe that we can return to campus. At the same time, we are acutely aware that for us to teach your children on campus this fall, all of us at school and at home will need to follow strict health and safety guidelines, and that, as you can see below, this won't necessarily come easily or naturally to any of us. We also are aware that new information and circumstances could quickly alter this plan, and so we are actively working on backup distance learning plans.

I mentioned in last week's note that:
  • The School's COVID Steering Committee, as well as subcommittees devoted to return-to-campus guidelines and distance learning, have been working all summer to prepare for all possible eventualities. 
  • We have relied upon guidance from the CDC, the State, CHOP, and particularly the Chester County Health Department (CCHD), which will be directly supervising and consulting with us throughout this summer and fall. We are working directly with an assigned representative from CCHD who will problem-solve with us, help us to stay abreast of the County's infection rate, help monitor any sick staff members or children, and offer guidance regarding the necessity of a quarantine or school closure. 
  • We have developed from these sources school-wide Health and Safety Guidelines, which address: ways that we are keeping our campus as sanitized as possible; approaches that we intend to take to physically distance students in small cohorts; hygienic requirements that we will put in place to strengthen everyone's safety; steps we will take to monitor students' and staff members' health; and decision-making processes that we will employ related to isolating and quarantining, as well as moving to distance learning, should that be necessary.
  • We have developed more robust plans for distance learning, given our presumption that we may be forced to close the campus at some point(s) this fall. In addition, we are developing plans for "concurrent learning," for situations when a student is home for a period of time while the majority of class is on campus. This will likely look different for younger versus older students, with more real-time, synchronous learning experiences for the older students and more packets of learning experiences and one-on-one teacher checks-ins with our younger students. We have not yet decided if we will be recording on-campus classes for off-campus students, or whether online classes will be recorded. 
While we intend to share a more complete version of our Health and Safety Guidelines and distance learning plans the week of August 17--together with opportunities for Zoom Q/A sessions for parents--I want to provide more specificity about key elements of our plans for the fall so that you can have a clearer picture of what to expect. 

Please understand that some of this information may change, as the situation warrants. While we firmly believe that students need and want face-to-face learning and to be among their friends and teachers (even physically distanced), we also know that the virus is unfortunately a moving target. We believe that even if forced at some point to teach remotely, beginning the year on campus has tremendous benefits for all students in terms of developing learning routines and forming effective learning groups. We also feel that we are prepared as fully as we can be today, given what we know right now. 
Facts About Returning to Campus

Beginning of the Year and School Schedule
  • We currently plan to reopen on Thursday, September 10. This is our regularly-scheduled first day of school.
  • We are currently considering using the first two weeks or so of the school year to limit the number of total students on campus, as a way to ensure that our safety routines are firmly in place and to help students and teachers safely transition back to campus. More to come about this. 
  • We are finalizing the weekly schedule for returning to campus, as we continue to tweak room assignments and work out ways to ensure physical distancing of students. More on that below. 

Health and Safety Protocols
  • Parents will be expected to submit a daily health report for each of their children. This will likely be something that can be done quickly each evening or morning online, before students are allowed to enter campus. Staff members also will complete self-screenings each day. 
  • Mask wearing will be required for all staff and students. Adults will supplement masks with face shields where appropriate. 
  • A minimum of 6-foot distancing will be maintained between students and between students and teachers. This is central to how we have assigned cohorts into different classrooms/spaces, how furniture is to be set up in each space, and in terms of the movement patterns of cohorts across campus. We will have one-way hall travel for one cohort at a time, as well as assigned external doors for each cohort. 
  • Hand sanitizer (no touch) dispensers will be in place in or just outside every classroom and throughout each building. We have also purchased portable handwashing stations to be at every external door. 
  • Extra ventilation will be in place in all instructional spaces.
  • We have hired additional cleaning staff, so that we will now have a dedicated cleaning staff member on site during the school day, as well as someone cleaning the buildings each evening. Special focus will be to clean and disinfect bathrooms, equipment, and all frequently touched surfaces throughout the school day and each evening. 
  • There will be no sharing of student materials.
  • No visitors will be allowed in the buildings, with the exception of vital vendor services (must be masked) and parents picking up a sick child.
  • We will have a dedicated isolation/sick room that has its own bathroom and has dividers to allow for multiple children if needed. 

  • Cohorts of 9 to 13 students will stay together all day to maximize physical distancing and to mitigate exposure. Cohorts will be composed of students within the same grade. In 1st and 2nd grades, where we have the largest number of students, we are planning for four total cohorts, two of 1st and 2nd grade students each. In the 5th and 6th grades, where we have the smallest number of students, we envision them forming one cohort. All other student cohorts will be by the total number of students in that grade. (Note that the 1st and 2nd grade student placements will be shared later this month, and teachers of all grades will be reaching out to their students/families later this month as well.)
  • Cohorts will move as a group, eat lunch in the classroom, and stay together outdoors. They will not interact with other cohorts, with the possible exception of two cohorts consistently sharing recess if the Chester County Health Department feels this is advisable.
  • Teachers will move from room to room, rather than students. Additional assistant teachers have been hired to allow for students to stay in their small cohort groups and for classroom teachers to divide their time among their cohorts, when needed. 
  • When possible, specials classes will be held outside (more on that below). Specialists will move between rooms, when outdoor instruction is not possible. 

Lunch, Recess, and Outdoor Spaces
  • Lunches/snacks will be sent from home with no allowed sharing or swapping. Rather than eating in the cafeteria/kitchen, students will eat in their classrooms or in cohorts outside. 
  • Students who are maintaining a safe distance may be allowed to remove their masks during recess time. They will be required to replace them before lining up to go inside. 
  • Low-contact activities will be permitted. High-contact activities will not be permitted, such as football and basketball.
  • All equipment, including balls and jungle gyms, will be wiped down between uses by different cohorts or pairs of cohorts (at the end of recess, for example).
  • We will be installing two new outdoor spaces, a 20x40 foot tent and a large pavilion behind Building #128. We anticipate making as much use of our new and existing outdoor spaces for instruction as possible, weather/temperature permitting. 

  • Parents will arrive for drop off at a specified entrance each morning, and one of the Extended Day staff will take your child's temperature and ensure that the health screening form (see above) is filled out for each child. If so, and if the temperature is normal, staff will help your child move to a designated entrance.
  • Our current plan is for 4th, 5th and 6th graders to be dropped off at the Treehouse entrance before proceeding to campus, for Kindergarten through 3rd grade students to be dropped off on Stewart Street at the steps and at the driveway (to create two points to move traffic along safely and efficiently) and for Pre-K parents to park on Owen Avenue and walk their children to campus. Tr. Jenn will then meet Pre-K parents and children at the Pre-K door. This option will likely also be available to Kindergarten parents who want to walk their children to campus. 
  • Morning drop off times will also likely be staggered to reduce traffic congestion.
  • Afternoon pick up locations will be the same as the assigned morning drop off locations. Children will wait outside in their designated cohort groups, and parents can call when they arrive at the curb. Calls will be relayed from the school office via Walkie Talkies to alert staff members to escort students to their cars. A staff member will also monitor the curb to see which parents have arrived. 
  • Parents will stay outside during morning and afternoon carpool procedures. Parents must stay six-feet apart and leave campus when their children come out. This is not to be a recess or social time.
  • Pre-K parents can approach but not enter the Pre-K porch, and the PreK teachers will send the children out. 
  • If there is inclement weather, children will wait in their classrooms until their parents arrive and call Tr. Linda, who will call up to the classrooms to send children down for pick up. 

Distance Learning
  • We suspect that at some point this fall we will need to transition to distance learning. Factors that will weigh into this decision include CCHD guidance, infection rates and trajectory of infections in Delaware County, exposure within our school community, and decision-making by area public and private schools. Of course at any point the State could order all schools to close as well.
  • Even if we are only able to teach in person for a short period of time, we continue to believe that doing so sets children and teachers up for a more successful school year. It offers kids the much needed opportunity to interact socially with their peers and teachers and to develop and re-develop learning and classroom routines. Teaching in person also gives us the opportunity to make sure that students are ready to manage themselves and the technology needed to be successful in distance learning. 
  • To prepare for the possibility of distance learning, we have been preparing throughout the summer. From our experience this spring with distance learning, we understand that we succeeded in some areas but needed to do better in others. To that end, teachers have been training this summer in the use of technology tools such as Google Classroom, Seesaw, Flip Grid, and Nearpod. In addition to learning how to effectively use these tools for teaching, we have also been learning how to efficiently use them to communicate with families and students. We know this is critical. 
  • In the coming week, all head teachers and specials teachers will be taking a course in designing instruction for online learning. Through our work in this course, we will be able to design robust instruction and assessment that is interactive and engaging. We will learn how to provide students with daily learning plans that they can navigate as independently as possible. 
  • It has always been important to teachers that our distance learning program mirrors the values of our LFS in-person program. Teachers believe it is developmentally important for students to learn experientially and with hands-on materials. For each of our units, teachers will be preparing hands-on material kits for each student and will organize a streamlined distribution system. 
  • We understand that learning via distance is more demanding. To support students, teachers also have been training in the use of Harvard Project Zero's Making Thinking Visible Thinking Routines. These Thinking Routines will support students to more independently and deeply engage with learning.  
  • Our distance learning weekly schedule honors the developmental needs of children and reflects feedback that we received from you in the spring--and will enable our students to engage in collaborative and dynamic learning. We know that children, especially our younger learners, learn better in small groups. We know that students need opportunities to try out new skills and ask questions. We heard clearly that many parents prefer live over asynchronous specials classes. Our new distance learning schedule will allow teachers to teach in small groups, conduct lessons that allow for check-ins, and have live specials. 
  • The proposed schedule for distance learning varies by grades and is still being tweaked internally. For now, know that it includes live academic and specials blocks each day, including daily, synchronous math and literacy lessons. There also will be built in times for morning meetings, snack, lunch, and whole school gathering, as well as small group and one-on-one time, depending on the age group. Our Pre-K and Kindergarten programs will have scheduled live programming in the mornings, with afternoons dedicated primarily to small group and/or asynchronous learning. 
  • We also are working to make sure that all students have the necessary technology/devices to successfully participate in our distance learning program. At this point, there is nothing a family needs to do, and we will share more information about this topic shortly. 
  • We believe that our work this summer has prepared LFS teachers to carry on the rich teaching program that has been a hallmark of our on-campus program. 
The most important takeaway I want for each of you is to know how committed we are to teaching your children as safely as possible, and in a way that reflects our school's vision and approach, despite the pandemic. And, as is worth reminding, we recognize that the changing nature of the pandemic could cause us to change course.

We will continue to communicate our plans and to engage you in discussion about them. I anticipate sending additional information the week of August 17 and setting up times shortly after for Zoom "town hall" parent meetings with myself and members of the COVID Steering Committee. 

As always, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I know that our home/school partnership is a critical one, now more than ever. 


Neal M. Brown, Ed.D.
Interim Head of School
Virtual Summer Camp Final Week
The past two weeks, campers have been diving into dinosaurs.  They have cracked eggs, built volcanos, and created dinosaurs with paper, clay, and other materials.  They visited the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Texas to learn more about dinosaurs.  

This is the last week of Virtual Summer@LFS.  I would like to thank my staff, Tr. Alec, Tr. Brad, and Tr. Steve for all their hard work.  I would also like to thank the families and the campers who made our virtual camp a success.  We are certainly hoping that we will be back on campus next summer, splashing in pools and walking to the creek. This summer was different for all of us, but camp was still awesome!
Thanks, Tr. Kathi!!!
Virtual Gathering for Lower School Teachers
Tr. Jill Bean and former LFS teacher Narissa Bajjo worked together, in conjunction with the Friends Council on Education, to organize and facilitate a virtual gathering for Lower School Teachers on August 5th.  Teachers met to consider how best to support the social and emotional needs of our students this Fall. Two counselors from nearby Friends Schools presented and 115 teachers and administrators registered for this event!  

The McKenzie Promising Futures Fund
Leon McKenzie attended LFS from 1978 to 1984.  Leon is now CEO of Sure Sports Lending.  His generosity and big heart led him to establish a scholarship fund, The McKenzie Promising Futures Fund,  for Lansdowne Friends School students entering grades three through six.  Leon named the fund in honor of his father, a first generation immigrant from Jamaica who dedicated 30 years as an educator at academic institutions throughout Philadelphia.

All students entering grades three through six at LFS are eligible to apply.  The application is attached here.  Completed applications are to be returned to Nancy Werner at LFS by August 15.  Please be in touch with any questions you may have.
You can access the application HERE.
Lansdowne Friends School:
Growing confident learners to engage and 
excel in a changing world.