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COVID-19 Awareness and Information

Our mission, values, and a commitment to the health and safety of our community members are central to how Moorestown Friends School is navigating decisions surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We recognize that people all over the world are being affected by this virus, and we are guided by both real-time information from experts as well as our core value of respect for all human beings.

MFS continues to closely monitor and evaluate the latest information about COVID-19 and has created this page to serve as an ongoing resource for our community. We will keep it updated with new information as it becomes available. Head of School Julia de la Torre has formed a Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) that is meeting regularly to make key decisions and proactively address the school’s needs. We thank you for your partnership as we make decisions with the best interests of our students, faculty/staff, and families in mind.

The School Committee has approved an Emergency Financial Aid Fund to assist families whose financial circumstances have changed due to the pandemic. Visit the Financial Aid page to learn more about this program.

Health and Hygiene

The MFS Nurse’s Office reminds community members to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Avoid sharing cups/water bottles, utensils, lip balm, etc.

We ask that all community members be attentive to any flu-like symptoms. If anyone begins to experience flu-like symptoms they should:

  • Stay home for at least 24 hours if sick with flu-like illness that includes a fever. The fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
  • Report to the Nurse’s Office to relay symptoms and get their temperature checked.
  • Limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from spreading the illness.
  • Cover their nose and mouth with a tissue (or sleeve) when coughing or sneezing. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash their hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.
COVID-19 Information Sources

We recommend the following sources for accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions
Supporting Our Sense of Community

What is being done to support the social and emotional well-being of students, faculty, and staff?

Care for students and families is our highest priority. We are here to support you and your family throughout this time. The MFS counseling team has gathered a wide range of resources for parents/guardians and students which are located in the myMFS portal titled Resources for Families. In Lower School, check-ins with families serve as a means for faculty to monitor student well-being. At the Middle and Upper School levels, advisory groups meet and faculty advisors initiate discussions and conversations, ensuring that students remain focused on their education, and connected to the community. 

MFS counselors and the College Counseling Office are open to assist our students and families as needed.

It is important to keep in mind that employees are also each navigating their own circumstances and, in this vein, a staff-level Community Cares Committee was formed to help create virtual activities, spread kindness, and offer encouragement for faculty and staff. 

How has Moorestown Friends maintained our strong sense of community?

The MFS community is living its Quaker values during this difficult time. Examples of virtual community connection abound and it will continue to be a primary area of focus. These connections fuel us as we all manage being confined to our homes. Each week, during a dedicated class period, students have the option to attend Virtual Meeting for Worship or participate in a variety of wellness reflection activities.

There are numerous examples of virtual celebrations, gatherings, and random acts of kindness by our entire community that have been led and generated by students, faculty, staff, and family members. Division directors have hosted weekly coffees for parents and guardians to maintain connections with school families and to provide a forum for feedback. 

A Virtual Community page provides many fun and engaging at-home activities that have been created by members of our school community and it continues to grow daily.

How is the school creating an equitable Virtual MFS experience?

Great care has been taken to ensure an equitable Virtual MFS experience for all students. Director of Diversity and Inclusion Dorothy López continues her work to build community and advocate for the students and families impacted most by this pandemic. The Counseling Office works closely with students, families, and teachers to provide academic and emotional support. Resources have been provided to faculty to address the equity challenges that have emerged in this remote learning environment. Formalized grading equity policies for the fourth quarter have been instituted in the Middle and Upper School, which are listed below in the question regarding the MS/US grading system.

What technology support is available for the community?

The Technology Department is available to provide students with necessary equipment, sufficient Internet access, and support as they manage the virtual school experience. They provide assistance to students, parents, and guardians as they do for MFS employees. Community members can reach out to technology@mfriends.org for one-on-one tech support. If a computer is needed, a Chromebook can be arranged for curbside pickup at Stokes Hall within 24 hours.

Academics

How has Virtual MFS been developed and managed?

A Remote Learning Team (RLT) was quickly mobilized to develop and implement Virtual MFS in just a few short days. We regularly solicit feedback and make adjustments to Virtual MFS, continually improving the virtual learning experience of our students and helping families find consistency, routine, and flexibility. At a three-division school like Moorestown Friends, the needs of a preschooler or first grader are far different from those of a Middle or Upper School student, so we have leveraged our expertise in child and adolescent development to create learning schedules and platforms that meet the needs of a wide range of students – with a healthy balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning. 

Since our transition to Virtual MFS, faculty have received training in the following platforms and apps: Google Hangouts & Chats, Zoom, Loom, PearDeck, Edpuzzle, Flipgrid, and SeeSaw, as well as in advanced features of our myMFS platform. Additionally, individuals and small groups have participated in webinars and training offered by the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE), National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools, Global Online Academy (GOA), and Seattle Academy (SAAS), among many others. 

Faculty have been adjusting lesson plans and teaching methods to make them best suited for our new remote context. Faculty maintain connections with students and families by holding office hours and hosting small-group and individual meetings with students and/or parents/guardians. All the while, our community has upheld its focus on supporting positive relationships with students and sustaining the strong bonds that make MFS a unique and special community.

What does Virtual MFS look like for Lower School families?

Virtual MFS in Lower School has evolved based on faculty and parent/guardian feedback and looks developmentally different by grade level. The RLT has been very mindful of the amount of screen time for our young students. There is a balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning work to provide parents and guardians with flexibility for those who may be juggling other responsibilities.

Lower School students connect in small groups virtually. This happens in many different ways throughout the division, including direct instruction, meal time chats, morning meetings, closing circles, and more. The purpose is to establish connections, norms and expectations in virtual meetings. Additionally, there are division-wide opportunities to connect including Meeting for Worship, Assembly, and Story Time. 

Special Area teachers rotate connecting with students and families each week through email and live class sessions. They also maintain their own websites to provide weekly self-guided activities for students. 

What is the grading system for the fourth quarter for the Middle and Upper School?

For grades 6-12, the higher of two averages will be used as a year-end grade: either the average of first through fourth quarters or the average of first through third quarters. Only year-end grades appear on final transcripts. All fifth grade classes are pass/fail for the fourth quarter. 

Will Virtual MFS be modified over the summer?

We anticipate a certain amount of remote or hybrid learning will be necessary in the next school year. The Remote Learning Team will collaborate with faculty over the summer to review feedback, conduct further research on best practices in remote learning, and make enhancements to the Virtual MFS experience. Faculty and staff will have extensive professional development opportunities available during the summer. The Virtual MFS Guide for Students and Families will be revised for fall 2020.

Finance/Enrollment

How is the Business Office addressing fees already paid for services while Virtual MFS has been in session?

MFS will issue credits for any unused portion of transportation fees, extended day contract fees, and lunch contract fees. Those credits appeared on your SMART Tuition accounts in April. If this resulted in an overall credit balance to your account, the credit will be applied to your 2020-21 account. If, instead, you would like a refund, please contact Jaime Baker in the Business Office.

Is the school refunding any fees or tuition for the 2019-20 school year?

Yes, refunds and/or credits will be issued for unused portions of fees associated with transportation, extended day, and lunch contracts. However, tuition costs, which are associated with our total program and support services, remain unchanged. A majority of the school’s costs are fixed and we are committed to paying all employees 100% of their salary and benefits through the end of the fiscal year (June 30). Therefore, it is not possible to refund tuition.

Even in the best of times, tuition does not cover the cost of a Moorestown Friends School education. Tuition revenue currently comprises approximately 85% of the school budget. Total program costs exceed net tuition revenue by more than $2.6 million, a sum covered by income from the school’s endowment, auxiliary programs, facilities rentals, Annual Fund, and other sources.

Whom should I contact if I have questions about my child’s enrollment for the 2020-21 school year?

If you have specific questions regarding your child’s enrollment, please contact Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Shu Shu Costa

Is tuition insurance still available for the 2020-21 school year?

Yes. Insurance can help defray the cost of tuition in the unlikely case that you need to withdraw your child from the school. The cost of insurance is 1.6% of your annual tuition. For example, insurance for a family with an Upper School student would cost an additional $520. The deadline to enroll is August 1. Click here to find out more about the Tuition Refund Plan. 

Are there flexible payment plans available for next year?

There are options to provide more flexibility in payment plans. If you signed up to pay your tuition in two payments, you may consider extending your payments over 10 months or even 12 months. If a delay of a month or two might help you, the Business Office will consider an extension of the tuition payment deadline with no late fee. For more information, please contact Jaime Baker in the Business Office. 

What is being done to provide assistance for families suffering near-term financial hardships as a result of the pandemic?

The School Committee (Board of Trustees) recently approved an Emergency Financial Aid Fund to provide limited assistance to school families who may require additional financial aid for the 2020-21 school year. The Emergency Financial Aid Fund will be administered by the Admissions Office. You can read much more about this program on the Financial Aid page of the school website.

If you are having trouble paying for 2019-20 tuition or fees, please contact Director of Finance and Operations Lisa Carbone Warren in the Business Office. 

How are families on strong financial footing able to provide help?

To help new and returning students experience an MFS education next fall, MFS Trustees and key friends have joined together to offer the school community a dollar-for-dollar match up to $100,000 for contributions to the Emergency Financial Aid Fund.  To support the MFS community and make a gift that will be matched today, please visit www.mfriends.org/emergencyaid.

School Operations

What is the plan for year-end events?

Administration, faculty, and staff have been working with students and family members to prepare a wide range of options for year-end activities. Much more information will come from division offices. 

Will Summer Programs still run this summer?

The following in-person Summer Programs have been cancelled:

  • Fox Break Camp (June 8 – 19, 2020)
  • Week 1 of Summer Scholars (June 22 – 26)
  • Week 2 of Summer Scholars (July 6 – 10)

All Summer Programs cancelled due to the pandemic will be refunded in full. Non-refundable deposits are included in that amount. 

A decision will be made regarding Weeks 3 – 6 of Summer Scholars, as well as Academic Transition classes, by June 15.  

Regardless of the outcome of Summer Programs, our staff are considering ways we can support families over the summer to navigate this unusual and unstructured time for kids.

What plans are being considered for delivery of the educational program during the 2020-21 school year?

We believe it is important to remain flexible and to work with our families as the health crisis evolves. Much will be dictated by local and state health and governmental officials, and Moorestown Friends will work diligently to abide by guidance as it becomes available. We are considering various changes to next year’s program and schedule, including:

  • Face-to-face, online, and/or hybrid teaching and learning
  • Increased training for faculty to ensure a seamless transition between online and face-to-face learning, creating a strong blended learning model
  • Enhancing our technology infrastructure to support blended learning
  • Reduced numbers of people on campus to comply with social distancing recommendations
  • Phasing in the start of school to help students adjust to the learning environment in smaller groups
  • Staggering schedules on campus to reduce traffic during passing periods
  • Staggering drop-off and pick-up to reduce congestion on campus
  • Limiting visitors to campus 
  • Reconsidering what large group gatherings might look like including assemblies, lunch, or other regular events
  • Delivering lunch to smaller group settings and providing more grab-and-go options

More details will become available as we get closer to the start of the school year. Attention will be paid to how a long-term approach to blended learning may impact our most vulnerable populations. We are working to ensure an equitable experience for all of our students and will give great care to how we support diverse learners in a hybrid setting. Families will receive communication throughout the summer regarding plans for the 2020-21 school year.

How will decisions be made regarding athletics training and competition?

We will be in close contact with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) and Friends Schools League (FSL) as information becomes available to best support our athletics program.

Health and Safety

What health and safety precautions will be taken by the school when we return to in-person learning?

Please be assured that we will not return to in-person learning until we meet or exceed all requirements put forth by local and state officials for reopening. A deep-cleaning of the school has already been conducted and additional cleaning supplies and protective equipment are being ordered to prepare for this almost certain need. When we return, we will consider how to best adhere to guidelines from local and state officials, including social distancing recommendations.

Questions and concerns may be sent directly to the Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) at crt@mfriends.org.

Coronavirus Response Team: Kimberly Clarkson, Julia de la Torre, Jenel Giles, Meredith Godley, Chris Kimberly, Jen Raue (School Nurse), Mike Schlotterbeck, and Lisa Carbone Warren.

Resources for Parents and Guardians

We recognize that supporting students to understand the changing situation surrounding Coronavirus can be a challenge. We hope the following resources give you a starting point for talking to your children about the issue.

How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus
New York Times Parenting

How to Talk to Your Anxious Child About the Coronavirus
Psychology Today

Just For Kids: a Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus
NPR

Explaining the News to Our Kids
Common Sense Media