Below is an archive of all communications sent to Friends School families regarding coronavirus. March 27, 2020
March 23, 2020
March 12, 2020
March 9, 2020March 6, 2020February 27, 2020
March 27, 2020
Dear Friends Families,
It’s been hard for all of us to wrap our heads around how much the world has changed in just the past few weeks. And yet, certain basics hold true. Connection, community, and continuity are core human needs that do not vary with even the most consequential shifts in circumstances. Please know that all of our efforts as a school in the weeks ahead will be focused on meeting those needs for our students and our families.
Distance Learning - Stage One
As we’ve worked through the first few days of our new collective reality, each of us has been in a learner’s role. If your family is anything like mine, you may well have found that the children in your home have been more nimble at making the many adaptations required of us than the adults. As perplexing as this dynamic may seem, it makes a certain amount of sense; children are often in the position of having new schedules and parameters imposed on them without their input or consent. Yet, as adults, we come to expect a level of control that has suddenly been taken away from us. And so, in this situation, as is often the case, we would do well to look to the young people in our lives for lessons.
During this first week of distance learning, we have all been in start-up mode. The mantra of the start-up community is to fail quickly and then adapt, a recognition that in a time of bold and rapid innovation, perfection is an elusive and perhaps even counterproductive goal. The change we as teachers have experienced in providing education to our students has been nothing if not bold and rapid, and I’m certain that the same is true for you as you’ve unexpectedly taken on your new roles in your children’s educational process.
I know that there have, in fact, been many successes in this first stage of distance learning, and, predictably, there have also been growing pains and even failures; of technology, timing, and execution. We are grateful for your patience and understanding during this initial stage of learning and growth, and we will be formally soliciting feedback from families and students next week to learn more about which aspects of the experience in Stage One have worked well and met your needs and which have not. We will use that input to build on our early successes and address areas of weakness. If you are having urgent problems in any aspect of your child’s experience, please don’t wait to make us aware of that situation; you can contact your child’s Principal at any time.
We are also seeking to determine the most effective means and frequency of communication with the Friends community. Streamlining the flow of information to the greatest extent possible is our long-term goal. While we pursue that goal, we will, temporarily, err on the side of over-communication. You'll have the opportunity for input on these matters as well next week.
We recognize that many people within and beyond our community are already suffering significant economic impact as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We remain firm in our commitment to all members of the Friends community. Knowing that flexibility is essential in every aspect of our lives at this time, we are ready and eager to work with any family for whom continuing to pay tuition on your original schedule has become untenable. If you have any concerns about financial matters, please reach out to our Assistant Head for Finance and Operations, Bonnie Hearn, at firstname.lastname@example.org
. All such consultations will, of course, remain entirely confidential.
As an inveterate optimist, I am always keeping an eye out for the silver lining, even in the most dire situation. And, as an educator, I have seen countless times that when people encounter difficulties, frustrations, and obstacles, there is tremendous potential for growth. My earnest hope and belief are that, as individuals and as a school, we will learn the challenging and even painful lessons embedded in this moment and emerge wiser, more empathetic, and more deeply affirmed in the values and core convictions that knit us together as a community.
I want to once again express my appreciation to all the members of the Friends community who are doing the critical tasks of these times; health care workers, first responders, and others who are helping to keep our communities safe and well. You are modeling selflessness and heroism for us all through your service.
With best wishes for the health and well-being of all your families,
Head of School
March 23, 2020
Dear Friends Families,
First and foremost, I hope that this message finds you and your loved ones well, both physically and emotionally, amidst the unprecedented challenges we are facing. If you are one of the many members of the Friends community who work in first-responder and medical roles, please know how grateful we all are for your vital contributions.
I’m writing to give you an overview of our ongoing response to the COVID-19 epidemic. Events have moved swiftly in recent days, and we are continuing to monitor and react in real time, using the best advice and resources available. At this point, it is apparent that we will not be back together on campus anytime soon, and certainly not by April 6, as we’d initially hoped. Predicting an exact date of return is impossible at this moment, but we must all be prepared for many weeks of working and learning remotely. We will update the community on any definite extension of the school’s closure by the end of this week.
For the health and safety of individuals and the wider community, we urge all families to practice social distancing and to follow the CDC Guidelines for Children and Families
. (See the attached message from our Health Team and Learning Specialists for more information on social distancing. For visual learners, here’s a helpful video
that explains the rationale and need for social distancing in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.)
Tuesday, March 24, will be the first day of distance learning for students in the Lower and Middle School. For Upper School students, Tuesday will be an orientation day and distance learning will begin on Wednesday. Please go to the school’s Information Hub
to see details of how the distance learning process will work at each divisional level.
This is largely new territory for all of us; students, parents, and teachers alike. With that fact in mind, communication, creativity and flexibility will be critically important. My hope is that we can model for each other - and most importantly, for our children - grace and resilience in the face of the inevitable growing pains. We will check in with parents and students at the end of this first week to get feedback on the initial days of remote learning so that we can pivot and improve the experience for all involved.
We will do our best to streamline our messages to you so as not to overwhelm your Inbox. As part of that plan, each Thursday, you will receive your customary Principal push page for your children’s division.
We have been actively trying to glean expertise and wisdom about the new world of distance learning from schools (around the globe and in the earliest-affected areas of the U.S.) that are ahead of us in implementing it. Here are some of the initial learnings:
Schedule: Other schools’ experience has clearly shown the importance of building and maintaining a structured daily routine for children. The details of that routine must, of course, be tailored to the needs and dynamics of your family, but the necessity of a predictable schedule has already become obvious.
Sleep: Keep devices out of children’s bedrooms overnight. Develop plans to ensure that they get enough sleep.
Time Limits: Agree to sensible time limits for tech use with your family. Identify which tasks need tech to be completed.
Study Area: Set up your children’s study area with everything they will need to work efficiently.
Balance: At school we do a variety of activities each day. Try to find balance at home by doing the same.
Connection: Even though we cannot be together with friends and loved ones in person, we all crave and need the personal connection that our relationships offer. Find ways - Zoom, Facetime, etc. - for your children to gather with those who are most important to them.
Family Time: Play games, read, watch movies together, get some exercise.
We recognize that while we are in distance learning mode, some students will continue to require support from our School Counselors and Learning Specialists. I’ve attached to this message the Student Health and Learning Support Information for Families describing how to make use of the Counselors and Learning Specialists' services during the time when we are away from campus. This document also contains tips and resources for maintaining health. I’ve included with this message as well the FSB Wellness Document, prepared by the Athletic Department, that includes sample workouts, and a variety of inspirational quotes and videos. These and other resources will also be available in the Information Hub
As you all know, one of the Quaker “SPICES” that we strive to exemplify is community. Over the past 15 years, I have seen us draw upon the strength of our communal bonds in the face of challenges time and time again. We have perhaps never needed those bonds as much as we do in this moment. Though much is uncertain as we survey the current landscape, I am confident that we will emerge from this experience - as we have emerged from wars, epidemics, financial catastrophes, and other crises since 1784 - with an even greater appreciation of the strength of our community, the power of love and the fortitude of our shared beliefs.
Friends School aspires to provide continuity, connection, and community at this time of great uncertainty for all of us. As a small effort towards that end, we’ll be sharing a nightly video program to keep our community in touch, beginning Monday March 30. The weeks ahead will require strength and resilience from all of us, and we at Friends aim to be a resource for you as we navigate these uncharted waters together. Please let us know how we can be of service to you and your families.
Best wishes for your health and wellness,
March 12, 2020
Head of School
Dear Friends Families,
I’m writing to let you know that we are cancelling classes for students in PK - 12th grade tomorrow, Friday, March 13, as well as Middle School parent conferences. While we do not yet have information that any Friends community member has had direct contact with anyone infected with the COVID-19 virus, we believe that for both the well-being of our community members and the larger goal of reducing the potential of transmission generally, this is the prudent course of action.
Athletics and other after-school activities are cancelled this afternoon, though Extended Day will operate on its usual hours. The Kangaroo Coach bus will also operate as normally scheduled. Any Middle School athletes can attend Extended Day without charge.
Little Friends will be open on its normal schedule on Friday, March 13.
We have also decided that, beginning on Tuesday, March 24, we will switch to a virtual learning model for all students in Grades PK-12. At this time, we are planning to remain on a virtual learning model until April 3. As that date approaches, we will assess the possibility of returning to on-campus learning, and will keep you informed of any decisions regarding timing.
Our information hub
explains the general guidelines for student learning and school services during this period. Each Division Principal will be sending a follow-up message with details of the plans for virtual learning.
Our employees will be on campus tomorrow, so you can access the buildings during normal operating hours if your child has left behind materials they need.
We are all living through times and experiences that we hadn’t imagined and couldn’t have fully foreseen. At moments like these, our community bonds become all the more essential. As we move forward, please know that Friends School will strive to be an anchor and a hub, providing continuity as best we can amidst the uncertainty that we are all feeling
We will follow up with more information as the situation develops. Thank you for your understanding and support as we navigate these unexpected circumstances.
Matt Micciche March 9, 2020
Head of School
Dear Friends Families,
I hope that you're enjoying today's beautiful weather.
In this time of uncertainty, we will continue to err on the side of over-communicating with you to reduce the chances of unwarranted fears about the Coronavirus and its implications for our community. It's our collective responsibility to prevent unfounded concerns from spreading, and the school's portion of that responsibility calls for us to share with you the facts we have as freely as possible.
You may be aware that an attendee at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference, hosted in late February at the National Harbor convention center in Maryland, later tested positive for COVID-19. A contingent of two Friends faculty and eight Upper School students were in attendance at CPAC. In our consultation with both the Baltimore City Health Department and the school's consulting pediatrician, we have been informed that these folks should monitor their health status carefully, but that there is no need or recommendation for them to self-quarantine. We are in communication with these individuals and families to ensure that they are aware of and following the appropriate protocols.
We have one Lower School employee who recently traveled to Southeast Asia (though not to any country listed as a CDC Level 2,3, or 4 risk) and who, out of an abundance of caution, will work from home this week and return to campus after Spring Break. That person has not been on campus since returning from these travels.
As always, feel free to be in touch if you have questions or concerns. Our Coronavirus information hub
is a source for news about our response to ongoing developments and is updated regularly.
Matt MiccicheMarch 6, 2020
Head of School
Dear Friends School Families,
I’m writing to follow up on last week’s communication about the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are currently monitoring closely the spread of the disease and its implications for Friends School. Our main priority is to keep our students, faculty, and staff healthy and safe. As always, the well-being of our community members is the foremost consideration in all our decision-making.
In addition to this message, we have created a Coronavirus information hub
with information and resources on this situation. We suggest that you bookmark this page as a central location for information as circumstances unfold.
In an attempt to be prepared for the full range of possibilities, my colleagues have worked to develop plans for continuity of learning and services should a closure of the Friends campus become necessary. While we don’t currently anticipate such a turn of events coming to pass, we are committed to continuing to provide critical services if it does. The overview of our continuity planning can be found on our Coronavirus information hub
. As a preparatory measure, we suggest you ensure that your student has access to high-speed internet should virtual learning need to occur for any period of time. If access is a problem for your family, please contact your child’s Principal so that we can help to meet this need. If we foresee a closure as imminent, we will also provide students and families with a list of materials they should bring home with them.
With the approach of Spring Break and families traveling domestically and internationally, we strongly encourage you to adhere to theCDC's guidelines on travel
. We will expect that any students, parents, faculty, staff and volunteers who travel to a country with a CDC Coronavirus risk of Level 3 or higher as of March 23 - currently, only China, Italy, South Korea, and Iran are in this category (or whose household members travel to such countries) will notify us of their travel and not return to school, including any school activities on or off campus, for 14 days from the date of return to the United States. During that time, each person’s health should be closely monitored. If a country to which one has travelled moves to a CDC Level 3 designation after March 23, individuals will be required to self-quarantine for the equivalent of 14 days after returning from that country. Please contact your personal physician for specific instructions regarding self-quarantine. Should your student require quarantine post-travel, we will, of course, do our best to provide remote learning and extend deadlines as necessary.
We have, after painstaking consideration, decided to cancel our school-sponsored international travel during Spring Break this year. We recognize both the importance of these trips as capstone learning experiences and the high degree of excitement with which our students and families anticipate them. As we’ve wrestled with this challenging decision, we’ve been informed by the determinations made by local and national colleges and universities (many of which - such as the University of Maryland - have cancelled school-sponsored foreign travel and have even closed study-abroad programs), the actions of our fellow independent schools, and the advice offered by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS) as well as governmental organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. In addition to concerns about student and chaperone health and a desire to limit the potential spread of the Coronavirus, the fact that many countries are instituting restrictions and quarantines that could be imposed with little or no advance notice weighed heavily in our thinking. Given the unpredictable proliferation of the current outbreak and the attendant likelihood of logistical complications (such as quarantines and flight cancellations) over which we would have no control, we felt we could not allow these trips to proceed under our sponsorship. Our decision has been communicated directly to those families and students affected by it, and we will continue working with them and with the coordinating travel firms to manage the many implications and details involved.
Our school maintains a continuous education and practice of illness prevention. Our faculty are teaching and expecting our students to cover coughs and sneezes, increase frequent hand-washing, and avoid touching their mouth, nose, or eyes--all ways to stop or decrease the spread of many illnesses. In response to this particular situation, we have enhanced the frequency and intensity of our classroom cleaning regimen, adopted more stringent anti-viral cleaning products, and have posted informational materials around the school buildings reminding students and adults of the importance of following illness-prevention strategies. We will also continue to emphasize to students and adults that they should stay at home if they are feeling sick.
Please remember that students take their emotional cues from the adult community. We encourage you to monitor your child's engagement on the topic of the Coronavirus and help them understand what they are seeing and hearing to avoid undue anxiety. Being prepared is not a cause for panic or alarm. Here is one helpful article
on how to talk to your child about the Coronavirus outbreak and a comic
for younger children on this topic that is designed to help them process the news they’re hearing. These and other resources are linked on our Coranavirus information hub
. Our counselors at each division are also available as resources for you and your children.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding any medical or health issues, feel free to reach out to our School Nurse, Lynne Anonye
, and please do not hesitate to contact your child’s Principal or me with any questions relating to our policies and procedures.
As we partner with you and our greater community to meet known and unknown challenges, we are committed to keeping the channels of communication open and doing all we reasonably can to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our community. We plan to communicate regularly with you as we monitor the situation and we will post health-related updates on our Coranavirus information hub
Thank you for entrusting your children to our care. It is truly a pleasure to be with them each day.
Matt MiccicheFebruary 27, 2020
Head of School
Dear Friends School Families,
I hope this message finds you well as the welcome respite of Spring Break looms just over the horizon.
I’m sure that many of you have been following the breaking news around the COVID-19 or Coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control
(CDC) issued warnings this week about COVID-19 and indicated that they believe the virus is likely to spread in communities in the United States. The CDC has encouraged individuals, schools and communities to make preparations for the potential of future closings, quarantines and other major interruptions. I write to assure you that, across all aspects of our operations, Friends School is monitoring the latest developments and advice from sources such as the U.S. Department of State
, the CDC, and other national and local agencies. Our future preparation will continue to be informed by these and other reliable sources of information.
As we consider the developing circumstances and the variety of possible responses, we will keep our families, students, faculty, and staff informed each step of the way. We will always, of course, act with the safety and well-being of our community at the forefront of our minds. Going forward, we will endeavor to plan for the whole range of contingencies while maintaining the appropriate perspective; grounding our actions and our communications with students in factual analysis rather than in the fear and uncertainty that are sure to proliferate in the weeks and months ahead.
In order to prevent the spread of respiratory disease, please encourage your children to take these simple steps recommended by the CDC:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If you have questions about any aspect of our planning and thinking around these issues, please feel free to get in touch.
Sincerely,Matt MiccicheHead of School