Hear directly from Brenda Crawley, Head of School, in her letters to the community.
Dear PMFS Families,
It has been an eventful week with respect to the surge in positive cases of COVID-19 in our local area and around the world. You may have read the November 11 Inquirer article that mentioned CHOP PolicyLab’s recommendation that schools in the Philadelphia area close as soon as next week. I encourage you to read their blogpost on the holidays: https://policylab.chop.edu/blog/covid-19-outlook-preparing-holidays
This afternoon, the Montgomery County Board of Health voted unanimously in favor of school closure for all public and non-public schools in Montgomery County beginning Monday, November 23 through December 6. Plymouth Meeting Friends School will follow this mandate. Please note the following:
• PMFS will be in session next week: November 16-20. On-campus/in-person and PMFS At-Home classes will continue per usual.
• Monday, Nov. 23 and Tuesday, Nov. 24 will be virtual learning days for PMFS students.
• We will enjoy Thanksgiving break from Wednesday, Nov. 25 through Sunday, Nov. 29.
• The week of Monday, November 30 through Friday, December 4 will be a virtual learning week for PMFS students.
• Classes will resume on-campus/in-person and for PMFS At-Home students on Monday, December 7.
PMFS will keep families informed of any adjustments or extensions to the county’s mandated closure. We intend to follow Montgomery County’s directives which acknowledge and respond to the surge in local positive cases and heightened risks to our school community.
I encourage you to review updates posted by CHOP Policy Lab and the Montgomery County Office of Public Health. Please make every effort uphold the preventative measures of masking, social distancing and hand hygiene. We must all do the best we can to safeguard our own health and the health of our PMFS community members.
Your child’s teachers will provide information about our transition to virtual learning during the mandated closure. Finalized virtual learning schedules for all classes will be sent to families next week.
Please join me in holding our school community and the local, national and global communities in the Light.
Dear PMFS Families,
We have completed the first quarter of our 2020-21 school year! Thank you for your support, positivity and effort made to keep the partnership between home and school alive. PMFS continues to thrive both on-campus and through virtual learning. Our desire to stay connected brings out creativity and flexibility; we realize that we can still be together, regardless of distance.
As we enter into the second quarter, I would like to share these important updates:
• Guidance on COVID-19 safety during holiday travel
• Changes to the School Calendar for Thanksgiving and Winter Break
COVID-19 Travel Guidance
Without your care, concern and vigilance, PMFS would not be able to navigate the uncharted waters of school in the time of a pandemic. We know that “relaxing” is occurring in the local, national and international communities, which are now experiencing a surge in occurrences of the virus. We must continue to actively model what we need to do to stay safe and healthy. Your efforts to take the necessary precautions to prevent exposure help not only your own family, but every Plymouth family. We appreciate your willingness to partner with us and share the responsibility for keeping the PMFS community healthy.
As we approach the holiday season and winter months, keep our PMFS Community Compact in mind. Please reinforce the safety guidelines of mask-wearing, handwashing and social distancing with your children. These are non-negotiable on-campus measures that limit risk of exposure. During the holidays, we ask all PMFS families to refer to the Pennsylvania Department of Health Travel Advisory List if planning travel. Those who travel to high-risk areas or who host friends and family members, including college students returning to Pennsylvania from one of the listed states, are not eligible to return to campus and are required to quarantine for 14 days. (This list is updated weekly by the PA DOH.) Here is the link to the CDC Guidelines for Holiday Gatherings.
Families who know of their planned trips to high-risk areas should alert the school well in advance, to allow teachers time to plan and provide materials for students’ at-home learning. The Montgomery County Office of Public Health COVID-19 School Exclusion Guide provides schools with exclusion and return to school guidelines.
Updates to School Calendar
With consideration given to the realities of holiday travel, hosting and time spent with non-household members, the PMFS calendar has been updated to include date changes during both the Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks. Our annual Thanksgiving Program has been cancelled; and school will be closed for the full day on Wednesday, November 25. Winter break for students will be extended by 1 week, to Friday January 8th. Faculty will use this week for preparation for the second half of the year, including additional skill-building related to virtual instruction.
Please make note of the following important information:
• Wednesday, November 25 through Friday, Nov. 27: No school – Thanksgiving Break
• School reopens & classes resume: Monday, November 30
• Friday, December 18: Full day of school
• Monday, December 21- Friday, January 8: No school- updated calendar: Winter Break
• Monday January 11- Friday, January 15: Classes resume: Virtual Learning Week (Classes for all grades delivered as remote learning only.)
• Monday, January 18: MLK Day of Justice & Service: No classes
• Classes continue: In-person students return to campus: Tuesday, January 19
Many children experience allergies during the late autumn and early winter. Parents of PMFS students who are under the care of a physician for allergies are asked to provide documentation from the doctor confirming that the child is under a physician’s care.
Sick children need to stay home to get better. If your child has symptoms of cold or flu, they need rest and care to recover and should not be expected to attend school online. (Refer to The Redbook for guidelines for return to school after fever or vomiting.) A doctor’s note stating that a child is cleared to return to school is required for sick children who remain at home for 3 days or longer.
All children (and teachers) love and look forward to snow days. Given our successful implementation of PMFS At-Home, we feel confident in our ability to continue the learning process for students during inclement weather and snow emergencies. We will observe a traditional snow day on the first snow day of the season, to allow for the unbridled joy that comes with the unanticipated announcement of school closure. All subsequent snow days this school year will be PMFS At-Home, virtual learning days. PMFS reserves the right to shift to virtual learning on delayed opening days.
REMEMBER THE ROUTINES:
All families should use the daily PikMyKid questionnaire, whether your child is learning in person or through PMFS At-Home. This allows the school to confidentially track symptoms and stay apprised of any concerning trends. Families of on-campus students, please remember to complete the PikMyKid questionnaire every school day before leaving your home. (Set up a “launch pad” for your thermometer on the kitchen counter or near the front door to remind you of this daily routine.)
As always, we will strive to keep you informed of updates. Thank you for your partnership and support.
Brenda C. Crawley
Head of School
Dear PMFS Families,
Our 2020-21 school year is off to a fantastic start. Thank you for your trust and patience, as we work in partnership to master new school routines. Our campus is open; and students are starting to adjust to their class pods and their learning spaces. Notably, our short first week was a full one for everyone—students and teachers alike—as we jumped into our school schedule. Soon, we’ll settle in and all of the novelty of gateways, masks, and social distancing in school will feel “normal”.
We hope to make the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up periods more efficient and manageable for families. We are mindful of the need to keep the flow of cars going in order to avoid back-ups that would disrupt traffic on Butler Pike. Thank you for incorporating the following adjustments into your morning and afternoon schedules:
New carline scheduling for families transporting their children to and from campus by car is attached.
Please remember to complete the Health and Safety checklist every day in the PikMyKid app. Use PikMyKid for your child’s dismissal changes and absences as well. (This is important for bus riders too.)
Beginning Monday, September 21, screening gateways will close at 8:15am. Families who miss their drop-off window should wait in the car (at the assigned drop-off locations) and call the Main Office. A PMFS staff member will come to screen your child and escort them to class.
The health of a community depends heavily upon responsible personal behavior by ALL members. As we begin the 2020-2021 school year, all members of the Plymouth Meeting Friends School community are asked to read, reflect upon and sign the following PMFS Community Compact. This Compact acknowledges our shared responsibility to mitigate the risks to our students, families and all PMFS employees. To that end, as a community, we ask for and commit to the following:
I understand that PMFS has created a Reopening Health and Safety Plan which reflects multiple layers of mitigation strategies. For these strategies to be effective, I accept that PMFS students (including my child/ren), families, and members of households, as well as all campus employees must consistently adhere to personal behaviors outside of school that reflect best practices for limiting the spread of infection.
I understand that these best practices include the unfailing use of face coverings, keeping physically distant (6 feet or more) from those outside of my family or designated group, frequent and thorough hand-washing, limited travel, and strict avoidance of all large gatherings.
I understand that travel can be a significant concern, particularly during the Labor Day holiday weekend prior to staff, student, and family return to campus. In addition, travel related to religious observances or opportunities to seize the “last days of summer” are similarly concerning as they have the potential for exposure to infection.
I know that it is not within the School’s purview to dictate travel limitations to families or staff. Still, I understand that PMFS asks that I heed travel warnings and/or restrictions imposed by local, state, or federal authorities and the CDC. These warnings are updated frequently. If I consider or plan travel, I agree to check for the most up to date information. If I have questions about the possible need for travel-related quarantine, I understand that I must contact the School. When a quarantine is necessary, I understand that my child will continue classes via PMFS At-Home. I will notify the school in advance to arrange for the PMFS At-Home instructional model during this time.
I understand that I must closely monitor the health of my child/ren, complete the daily health screening to the School through the PikMyKid app, and keep my sick child/ren home.
Prioritizing the health and safety of our community begins with respect. PMFS students, families and staff and our staff thrive when they are safe, secure, known, and cared for. During this challenging time, I am committed and dedicated to the practices aimed at keeping all of our school community members healthy and safe.
Because these measures are critical to the safety of all, students or parents who fail to comply with our safety requirements and protocols jeopardize the well-being of our community and therefore may be restricted from in-person learning.
New Check-in and Dismissal Procedures
Dear PMFS Families,
In our continuing efforts to enhance your children’s safety, we are using the PikMyKid Check-In and Dismissal App for 2020-21. With the app, parents are able to:
• Submit daily health screenings for each child (“check in”)
• Notify PMFS if a child will be absent
• Notify school if a child is ineligible for on-site instruction because of COVID symptoms or contact
• Change afternoon dismissal plans (for one day or permanently), today or any day in the future
• Delegate others to pick up a child
• Receive text messages from PMFS
This app allows families to be in full control of your child’s dismissal; it gives the school complete information regarding dismissal and the ability to share each change with more staff in real time. To get a good general sense of the app, please check out some PikMyKid features with this link: https://www.pikmykid.com/features/for-parents/
School starts in 5 days: What should parents do now?
Step 1: Review the attachments to this email to help you learn the system
Step 2: Visit your appropriate app store and download the (free) PikMyKid app
Step 3: Follow the Register button and prompts to sign up, using the cell phone number PMFS has on file for you.
Step 4: Click “submit” and receive a one-time-PIN code; enter it to complete registration
Step 5: Start exploring the app! (Hint: look at the parent check-in questions and your child’s daily dismissal plans that PMFS has entered for your child)
• What if I don’t see my student once I begin using the app? The school may have a different mobile number on file than you entered. Contact PMFS or PikMyKid support for next steps (813.864.7627 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
• What if I don’t have the ability to download the app? Families can use the website https://parentapp.pikmykid.com (note that not all features are present this way)
What do parents do each school morning?
• Parents use the app each morning (starting at 6am) to complete a “check-in” for each child, to determine if your child may come to school that day. Children will only be allowed to enter school after this check-in has been checked by PMFS staff.
• If a child will be absent, parents use the app to mark the child absent with reason
What do parents do every afternoon?
• Parents check their child’s dismissal plans (bus, carline lower circle, carline Meetinghouse, or walk-up pick-up) and make necessary changes, before 2:30.
• Parents arriving for carline pick up ANNOUNCE their arrival on the app, and wait for students to be escorted to cars.
We look forward to seeing you and your child on Tuesday! We will pilot these features for the first 2 weeks of school. After that, stay tuned for changes as we learn this new system together.
On behalf of all the PMFS Staff readying for your children
Dear PMFS Families,
Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year! The summer days are passing quickly; and we are shifting into back-to-school mode. On-campus learning and working spaces are being prepared with a keen eye toward creating and maintaining safe spaces, in order to support the health of our community members. The yeoman’s work of moving furniture and equipment into newer, larger spaces is well underway. The faculty, staff and administration meet weekly to discuss and plan for the start of school, and how to create and sustain excellent learning experiences for all PMFS students. We look forward to seeing our young friends and welcoming them back home to Plymouth.
Every school year brings both challenges and opportunities. Certainly, 2020-21 will mark a year of change. Faculty members are fully immersed in a deep exploration of curriculum and programming that incorporates novel approaches to implementation. We are investigating the ways in which technology will supplement and support classroom instruction. We remain mindful of the social-emotional development and wellbeing of the students; and we recognize the need to rebuild the connections that are at the heart of PMFS.
School changed for all children last March. Learning was redefined. Teachers across the world are challenged to determine if that redefinition of education meets the needs of all learners. The amazing team of educators at PMFS—my colleagues—are charged to continue our work to sustain the academic, social and emotional learning processes for all PMFS students. We know that we need to bend, flex, and tap into new resources to reach those goals. This school year will demand flexibility and resilience from students, families and faculty alike. As we stretch and grow into this new school year, I have confidence that our amazing PMFS community will remain connected and strong in this time of “distancing”.
In peace and partnership,
Brenda C. Crawley
Head of School
Dear PMFS Families,
Thank you for joining me for this week’s parent gatherings. I hope that you gained a better sense of the plan for the start of our 2020-2021 school year. The PMFS Campus Reopening Health and Safety Plan outlined procedures, practices and protocols that are being put into place for our safe return to campus. There are a number of additional details related to the start of the year that will be shared with families over the upcoming weeks. Some of the more critical pieces that will help you get ready for 2020-21 are noted below:
• The 2020-2021 school year will begin on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. The PMFS campus will be ready to receive students who are learning in-person.
• A brief survey about the start of the year will be issued to families within the next few days about the instructional model that works best for your family.
• Families of students who use school district transportation are encouraged to connect with their district’s transportation office about busing of non-public school students.
• PMFS will utilize the PikMyKid app to assist families with submitting daily health screenings, and to facilitate carlines during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up.
• Carline scheduling for families transporting their children to and from campus by car is attached.
Students in Grade 1 through 6 will be checked in at their assigned Screening Gateway, given a clearance sticker, and directed to proceed to their classrooms. After the child has been cleared, drivers may leave campus.
Families and caregivers of Pre-K and Kindergarten students may park in the lower campus lot and escort their child to the assigned Screening Gateway. After the child has been cleared and given a clearance sticker, Pre-K and Kindergarten parents/caregivers may escort the child to the classroom door.
Families with siblings should drop off and pick up following the location and schedule assigned to their youngest child.
Parents may not take their child directly to the classroom. All students must be checked in at the assigned Screening Gateway and cleared for school attendance.
Morning drop-off will be from 7:40 to 8:30am at upper and lower campus locations; and screening Gateways will close at 8:30am.
We ask that families remain considerate of our staffing limitations during the “peak” hours at the beginning and end of each school day. Some morning delays are to be expected. Families who arrive after the Gateways close should wait in the car (at the assigned lower or upper campus drop-off locations) and call the Main Office. A PMFS staff member will come to screen your child and then escort them to class.
• Students who arrive by school district transportation will be checked at the upper campus Screening Gateway, given a clearance sticker and directed to proceed to their classrooms. Bus riders who are not cleared for classroom entry will be sent to the Infirmary in the Main Building; and parents will be called for immediate pick-up.
• Classroom spaces for each pod group are noted in the chart above.
• After-school care will be limited during the 2020-21 school year. Specific information about the hours and enrollment process for the after school program will be released soon.
• Changes to these plans will be communicated as necessary.
We are hopeful that our efforts to create and sustain healthy learning spaces at school will support the well-being of our community members. However, the effectiveness of these many measures will be compromised if families are not also vigilant about health and safety after school and on weekends. Every member of the PMFS community must make a commitment and accept responsibility for our community. Quakers believe that there is that of God – a light—in each of us. Everyone has worth and value; we share ownership of our community’s care. Prior to the start of our school year, a PMFS Community Compact will be issued to all PMFS families. We will begin the journey into 2020-21 together, in the spirit of community care and concern.
Dear PMFS Families,
The PMFS Campus Reopening Health and Safety Plan accompanies this letter. The plan includes policies, protocols and practices related to reopening campus for in-person instruction. The Pennsylvania Department of Education advised all non-public schools to create reopening plans and share them with families after board approval. The PMFS Campus Reopening Health and Safety Plan was reviewed and approved by the PMFS School Committee, our governing body of trustees.
Our school’s plan offers a process for reopening the PMFS campus and learning spaces in ways that support the health, safety and wellbeing of students and employees. The plan does not offer or guarantee a timeline for reopening school.
PMFS will continuously monitor county and state guidelines, as well as recommendations from the PA Department of Health, Department of Education, CHOP, the CDC and other local and national medical resources. We reserve the right to close the school at the time we deem that risks to the health and safety of our community outweigh the benefits of in-person instruction, based on data from our county and state.
Please review the PMFS Campus Reopening Health and Safety Plan carefully and make note of your questions and concerns. Parent gatherings will be held in class pod groups next week. Zoom invitations will be forthcoming for the following dates:
· Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Families: Monday, August 10, 7:00- 8:00pm
· First & Second Grade Families: Tuesday, August 11, 7:00 – 8:00pm
· Third & Fourth Grade Families: Wednesday, August 12, 7:00 – 8:00pm
· Fifth & Sixth Grade Families: Thursday, August 13, 7:00 – 8:00pm
These smaller group gatherings will allow space for more voices to be heard and information that is specific to specific pod groups to be shared. Norms and expectations for our gatherings will accompany the Zoom meeting invitations. Families are welcome to email me specific questions in advance to assure that they are addressed during the gatherings.
Dear PMFS Families,
In my July 23 letter, the community was informed that the PMFS Reopening Health and Safety Plan was being created. The completed plan was slated to be sent to families and posted on the PMFS website before the end of July. The Pennsylvania Department of Education advised that non-public schools send their reopening plans to trustees of the school for review and approval. Currently, the PMFS Reopening Health and Safety Plan is under review; and I will meet with the PMFS School Committee this week. I apologize for the delay in getting this important information to you.
As a reminder, the Pennsylvania Department of Education requires that all public schools create a reopening health and safety plan. Non-public (private, independent, parochial) schools are strongly urged to do the same. The PMFS Reopening Health and Safety Plan includes policies, protocols and practices related to reopening campus. The plan also includes information about community expectations, safety measures, usage of indoor and outdoor spaces, and FAQs about other critical issues that families may have.
When you receive the PMFS Reopening Plan this week, please review it carefully and make note of your questions and concerns. With the PMFS Reopening Plan, you will receive information and dates for upcoming parent gatherings to discuss our return to campus.
Thank you for your patience.
Dear PMFS Families,The PMFS campus is quiet; yet there is quite a bit of energy and action underway in preparation for the upcoming school year. Four faculty committees have submitted recommendations to inform the planning process for 2020-21. I have been reviewing the committee notes and utilizing some of the shared information in order to offer families the plan for reopening school.
Schools around the country are seeking answers to myriad unforeseen questions. We all recognize the need to provide the best educational programs possible for our students; and we remain fixed on the absolute priority of keeping students and faculty members as safe as possible. Currently schools in every state, county, city and town must formulate a plan for serving their students while following the mandates and guidance from different branches of government. PMFS continues to monitor state and local directives, as well as updates from the CDC, CHOP, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other local medical professionals.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is requiring that all public schools create a reopening health and safety plan. Non-public (private, independent, parochial) schools are strongly encouraged to do the same. With input from the faculty and administration, I am in the process of working on PMFS Reopening Plan which will include policies, protocols and practices related to reopening campus. The plan will also include some preliminary information about community expectations, safety measures, usage of indoor and outdoor spaces, and FAQs about other critical issues that families may have. The completed PMFS Reopening Plan will be sent to families and posted on the PMFS website before the end of the month.
The devotion of the PMFS faculty team is boundless; and they share the deep desire to welcome students back to campus and into our learning spaces. The school’s top priority is the wellbeing and safety of its students and faculty. We are working diligently to take as many measures as possible to keep your children and our faculty team safe as we start a new year of learning together.
When you receive the PMFS Reopening Plan, please take the time to review it carefully. Make a note of your questions and concerns. During a series of upcoming parent socials, we will discuss what you’re wondering or concerned about, and share ideas about coming back together as a school community.
I hope this note finds you safe and healthy. I am writing to offer an update on the preparations for the upcoming 2020-21 school year. During this summer break, the PMFS faculty, staff and administration are working on plans to facilitate a smooth transition back to school. We are actively engaged in committees, focusing on the critical aspects of creating and maintaining safe and supportive learning spaces for our students and faculty. Our main priorities remain the health and safety of all community members. We continue to rely on directives, guidance and recommendations from the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, CHOP, The PA Department of Health and the PA Department of Education. Because of our membership in governing and accrediting organizations such as The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and PAIS (Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools), we have access to data, information and best practices related to school re-entry, as well as distance learning, from schools across the country. This information, combined with the passion and expertise of the PMFS faculty, allows us to plan accordingly for next school year.
During our faculty meeting this week, four committees reported on their work to the group. Members of each committee include senior administration, administrative support staff and/or an assistant teacher, a lead teacher and a specials teacher. All committees are charged with brainstorming, researching, scenario planning and problem solving in order to make recommendations to the Head of School and inform decisions for the 2020-21 school year.
- The Facilities Committee focuses directly on the safety and health of community members in relation to learning and workspaces on campus. Group members attend Zoom meetings and webinars with local organizations and stay apprised of the latest directives and data. The Facilities Committee focuses on aspects of creating and maintaining safe, socially distanced learning spaces for students, as well as re-envisioning and re-allocating learning spaces. Committee work centers on procedures around school entry, health monitoring, PPE, transportation, supply storage, cleaning protocols, student/teacher campus transitions, outdoor learning spaces and other matters pertaining to how best to support community health and safety.
- The Curriculum Committee focuses on the exploration of research and resources to support classroom instruction. Group discussion seeks out information related to pedagogy, including academic programming for mixed-aged groups and vertical class groups. The Curriculum Committee is charged with exploring the integral components of a PMFS educational experience through the lens of best instructional practices for online and in-person learning. Committee work centers on obtaining resources for faculty professional development, student assessment, investigating various learning platforms, establishing protocols for screen-based learning, and researching project-based learning. Notably, the Curriculum Committee seeks strategies to maintain the continuity of student and parent support both during on-campus and online instruction.
- The Scheduling Committee focuses on examining and planning for different scenarios for instruction and learning during the upcoming school year. Group members gather information from faculty and families in order to create an daily and weekly instructional schedule for each class. The Scheduling Committee focuses on the continuity of academic instruction, given the constraints of social distancing within our campus’ facilities. The group is exploring the scheduling of classroom time, specials classes, outdoor breaks and other components of students’ weekly routine with consideration given to directives and recommendations from medical experts, the CDC, PA Department of Health and PA Department of Education. In addition to formulating a plan for on-campus instruction, the Scheduling Committee is charged with offering recommendations for distance learning.
- The Social and Emotional Committee focuses on the well-being of PMFS students as we transition into a new school year after our prolonged separation due to COVID-19. The group discusses creating systems of support for each student that extend beyond classroom teachers. The cultivation of community remains a goal during on-campus and online learning. The Social and Emotional Committee is charged with exploring ways to monitor and assist students, in collaboration with classroom teachers and parents.
I am grateful to my colleagues for their work on the many critical pieces that require our attention and energy as we prepare for the start of the next school year. As recommendations from local and national government evolve almost daily, our procedures and practices will be consistent with the CDC, PA Department of Education, and PAIS guidelines. We rely on medical professionals, including those at CHOP, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and school physicians who monitor COVID-19 data in educational institutions across the country.
Each week, I have the opportunity to connect with the heads of small schools in the Philadelphia area. I also meet with heads of Quaker schools from all over the country, a group of NAIS school heads, and the heads of small local Quaker schools. The collective wisdom in those groups offers collegiality and support that creates space for sharing, problem-solving and collaboration in a time of unknowns and unpredictability. As school leaders, we are all focused on serving our communities, while remaining committed to the priority of doing the best we can to safeguard the wellbeing of our community members.
During the upcoming weeks, PMFS families can expect explicit information about specific health and safety preparations and requirements for students and PMFS employees as we prepare to transition back to campus. A brief parent survey about starting school in September will be distributed to families within the next few days. Several parent “happy hours” will be scheduled in the near future to offer families opportunities to connect, share ideas and ask questions. The 2020-21 school year will likely challenge us to stretch, innovate and evolve. While we cannot know all of the answers, we can work together to plan, strategize and prepare.
Stay safe, healthy and connected!