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 COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that this global health emergency is ongoing and that many in our school community are still at risk until the COVID-19 vaccine is available to children of all ages. 

The Coronavirus Response Team is charged with monitoring, evaluating, and responding to the changing COVID-19 landscape and has created this page to serve as an ongoing resource for the MFS community. In consultation with our local county health officials, the State of New Jersey Department of Health, experts at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and other infectious disease experts, we have made a number of decisions regarding the 2021-22 school year. As was true last year, we are taking a layered approach to health and safety. Vaccination, masking, social distancing, and proper ventilation combined with good hand hygiene and staying home when sick will limit viral transmission and keep our community healthy. Please check back throughout the year, as we will keep this page updated. 

Guiding Principles
Guiding Principles

The following principles will guide our leadership team as we make the best decisions possible for our community.

  • Our top priority is the collective health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and families. We will strive to make decisions that can be sustained by all community members over the course of the school year.
  • Clear and regular communication with our community is critical for maintaining trust and ensuring the smoothest experience for all involved.
  • Our foundational Quaker values of integrity, community, equality, and stewardship will be core to how we make decisions. We are committed to maintaining a strong educational experience for our students through the pandemic and will make sound financial choices to ensure the long-term sustainability of the institution for generations more.
  • Although there will always be an element of risk to convening in person, we believe that in-person learning is a priority. Our goal will be to mitigate, not eliminate, that risk and create the healthiest environment possible in which children can learn.
  • The “power of small”–as a small school, we will adapt as needed to meet the changing situation and to reduce disruption for students.
  • Remaining inclusive in our decision-making will help us best address the needs of our diverse constituents.
 
COVID-19 Information Sources

CRT is monitoring several key sources for information and guidance on COVID-19:

CRT is also tracking several indicators from our local counties, region, and the state, among other sources:
Community Responsibilities

As a Moorestown Friends School family, we understand that our community is deeply interconnected and we all play a critical role in keeping the MFS community healthy and safe. Although the worst of the global pandemic seems to be behind us, there are still many unknowns and much of our community remains vulnerable. As responsible members of the MFS community, my family will:

  • Monitor my child(ren) daily for symptoms and keep them home when sick.
  • Pick up my child(ren) promptly from school should they become symptomatic during the day.
  • Communicate openly and in a spirit of partnership with the school about my child(ren)’s health and any possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Follow any health and safety requirements set forth by the school.
  • Keep my child(ren)’s health records current with the nurse’s office.
  • Exercise empathy, assume good intentions, and withhold judgment or bias towards anyone for their vaccination status or mask-wearing choice.
Health & Safety

The CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health agree that layering preventive measures is the best way to protect the community, especially those who are not fully vaccinated. Which layers we employ will depend heavily on the level of COVID-19 transmission in our region, as well as vaccination coverage rates both in our region and in our school. As these numbers shift and change throughout the year, we may adapt some of these layered mitigation strategies to balance both the health and well-being of our community and as much of a typical school experience as possible.

Vaccination
Although Moorestown Friends School does not require students to be vaccinated at this time, we strongly encourage anyone eligible to get vaccinated. Achieving high levels of COVID-19 vaccination among our community members is one of the best ways for us to resume normal operations. Eligible students may find vaccination sites near them on this website or from a network of clinics in Burlington County. Currently, students who are 12 years or older are eligible to get vaccinated.

MFS will require all school personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18.

According to the CDC, there are a number of situations in which vaccinated individuals may follow different health procedures than unvaccinated individuals. For example, vaccinated students individuals will not need to quarantine should they be deemed a close contact of a case of COVID-19, as long as they remain asymptomatic. MFS is requesting a vaccination status form and related documentation from all students and staff, so that we know which health procedures and protocols to follow. If we do not receive documentation of vaccination status, we will assume the individual is unvaccinated and will follow all protocols for unvaccinated individuals. Documentation of vaccine status may be emailed to nurse@mfriends.org and this form must be completed before the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Masks
Moorestown Friends School is adhering to the state of New Jersey mandate that all students, staff, and visitors must wear a mask at all times while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

In an outdoor setting, masks will be optional for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. However, should our Southwest Region enter a high (orange) or very high (red) risk level for COVID transmission, we may amend this provision in crowded outdoor settings or in settings that involve sustained close contact. Should we remain at a low (green) or moderate (yellow) risk level, masks will not be required outdoors.

MFS requests that face coverings be a minimum of two-ply material that securely covers the nose and mouth without gapping on the sides. Disposable face coverings can be used if they meet these same requirements. Face coverings with exhalation valves or vents will not be permitted, as they allow air to exit through a hole in the material. Bandanas, neck gaiters, and other coverings that are one layer are also not permitted. The same guidelines that apply to our dress code will apply to face coverings.

Physical Distancing
As per the CDC and DOH guidelines, Moorestown Friends is able to maintain the recommended three feet of distance between students in a classroom setting in most cases. When this is not possible or when students may move more freely around the classroom, we will rely on our other layers of mitigation to ensure the safest environment possible. During lunch time when students may be eating in classrooms or in the lunchroom, we will maximize the distance available and increase air flow. Whenever possible, we will encourage groups to eat outside and take advantage of favorable weather and a spacious campus. 

Symptom Assessment
We ask that all families keep their children home if they exhibit any signs of illness in order to keep the entire community healthy. After completing a daily symptom screening (via text or email), a student will be asked to stay home if they exhibit:

  • At least two of the following symptoms: chills, shivers, myalgia (muscle aches), headache, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, congestion, or runny nose; OR
  • At least one of the following symptoms: fever (of 100.4 or higher), cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of smell, or new loss of taste.

In addition, if an unvaccinated child has had close contact with a COVID-positive individual in the past 14 days, if a household member has been diagnosed with COVID in the past 14 days, or if they have traveled internationally, you will be prompted to keep your child home and contact the nurse’s office. In some circumstances, even if a child is vaccinated, you may be prompted to keep your child home and contact the nurse’s office, so that we can determine if your child should come to school. 

Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection
MFS will continue to follow standard procedures for routine daily cleaning and disinfecting with EPA-registered products for use against COVID-19. Particular and frequent attention will be paid to high-touch surfaces, such as desks, countertops, door knobs, water-filling stations, and bathrooms. Child-safe hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes will be available in all classrooms, offices, and shared spaces for use during and between classes, as needed. Students will be encouraged to wash their hands throughout the day and minimize the sharing of high-touch materials, especially those that may be more difficult to clean.

Ventilation and Air Flow
When weather permits, teachers and students will be encouraged to maximize the use of our outdoor spaces on campus for class, recess, and lunch. While indoors, we encourage open windows to circulate air, and most classrooms are equipped with child-safe fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows. Last year, we conducted a complete assessment of our heating and cooling systems and upgraded our filters to MERV-13 pleated filters, which work up to 30 times more effectively than fiberglass filters. Classrooms with more limited access to fresh air have been equipped with air purifying machines.

COVID Testing
It’s important to note that a COVID test is only as good as the day the specimen is collected. The incubation period for COVID-19 is anywhere from 2-14 days, and an individual may show a negative test result one day only to test positive several days later. For this reason, we know that testing can sometimes be misleading. This is why the layers of mitigation strategies we have in place are so critical. 

To start the year, MFS will be testing students in Preschool through Grade 6 on a weekly basis as part of COVID surveillance testing. Given that these grades are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine and case rates are currently on the rise in our region, MFS is partnering once again with Mirimus Labs to conduct pooled saliva testing to start the school year. More details will be sent to families of children in Preschool through Grade 6. Based on the timing of Labor Day weekend and the turn-around time needed for testing results, it is not feasible to conduct re-entry testing before the start of school. As the COVID context improves, we may modify or discontinue our weekly surveillance testing. Vaccination rates of over 80% in Grades 7-12 represent a significant additional layer of effective mitigation; therefore, we will not be testing students in these grades. 

Travel Policy

updated August 23, 2021

Domestic Travel

The CDC discourages travel for unvaccinated individuals and recommends post-travel COVID testing and quarantine. That being said, the State of New Jersey no longer requires quarantine for any individuals returning from domestic travel. As a result, Moorestown Friends School does not require any quarantine for students or employees returning from domestic travel. As always, you should monitor your child for any COVID-19 symptoms and keep them home from school if they are feeling unwell.

International Travel

If a fully vaccinated student or employee travels internationally, there is no need to quarantine after returning home. The CDC does, however, recommend getting tested for COVID-19 with a PCR (viral) test 3-5 days after travel and self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms. 

If an unvaccinated student or employee travels internationally, they must:

  • Get tested for COVID-19 with a PCR (viral) test 3-5 days after travel.
  • Quarantine at home for a full 7 days after travel, even if they test negative.
  • Quarantine for a full 10 days if they choose not to get tested for COVID-19.

If an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days, they should follow recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals, except they do not need to get tested for COVID-19 after travel unless they show symptoms.

COVID Response

Response to Symptomatic Students
Should a child exhibit COVID-like symptoms while on campus, they will be sent directly to the Moriuchi Room in Stokes Hall, which has been designated our COVID isolation room. The space is a short-term and private isolation room where our nurse can assess the student and determine if they should be picked up from school to go home. 

Response to COVID Cases
If a child or household member receives a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, we ask that you contact the school immediately. Once the school learns of a positive case, we will notify the local health department and they will begin the contact tracing process in collaboration with the school. Close contacts are defined as being within six feet of someone with suspected or known COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period. Currently, unvaccinated close contacts will be asked to quarantine at home for a designated period of time. Vaccinated close contacts (with proper proof of vaccination status on file with the school) who do not exhibit any COVID-like symptoms will not be required to quarantine. We are awaiting final guidance from the NJ Department of Health to finalize our contact tracing and quarantine protocols, which are expected to be released before the start of school. 

If there is an exposure to COVID-19, the school will notify students, families, or employees who have been identified as close contacts. If there is a positive case of COVID-19 in the school among either students or employees, the entire parent/guardian population will be notified. In all cases, confidentiality will be preserved as required by state and federal laws. Out of respect for those involved, we ask that community members not speculate or spread misinformation surrounding suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

Contact Tracing
Contact tracing is a strategy used to determine the source of an infection and how it is spreading. If there is a positive case among students or employees, the school will provide to the local department of health any information on the types of interactions (close contacts, length of contact) the person may have had with other people in the building or on the campus. If the school cannot determine whether individuals have met this criterion, an entire cohort, classroom, or other group may need to be considered exposed, particularly if people have spent time together indoors. The CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health agree that in the K–12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. This exception will be considered when identifying who fits the definition of a close contact in the contact tracing process.

Campus Life

Lunch Program
Moorestown Friends School will have a full lunch program available to students and staff. There will be an increased amount of pre-packaged foods for students who wish to streamline the lunch experience with grab-and-go options. There will also be hot food options, sandwiches, salads, soups, and healthy snacks available. To maximize physical distancing in the lunchroom, we will limit the number of students to a maximum of three people per table and windows will be open as much as possible to increase air circulation. Students may also eat outside if weather permits. With increased distancing and the need to create a safe food service experience, we will not be able to accommodate all MS and US students in the Dining Hall Commons (DHC) during their assigned lunch time. Though all Middle School (MS) and Upper School (US) students will be able to purchase food from the DHC every day, on certain days they will eat at other locations across campus. Students in Preschool through Grade 2 will eat in their classrooms daily, and limited items from our lunch program will be available for purchase and delivery to the classroom. Students in Grades 3 and 4 will eat in the lunchroom daily. 

Transportation
Bus transportation must follow the guidelines set forth by the CDC for public transportation. This includes required masks for all students and the bus driver (regardless of vaccination status), open windows when possible to increase air flow, and regular daily cleaning. MFS will allow up to two students per seat while our regional risk level remains low or moderate (green or yellow) but will reduce to one student per seat should the risk level increase to high or very high (orange or red). Given that morning and afternoon bus routes are set at the start of the year, we expect to have enough space to accommodate one student per seat, should the risk level change during the year. 

Music
Singing will be permitted indoors with masks and will allow for recommended physical distancing. Whenever possible, singers will practice outdoors, physically distant and without masks. Wind instruments will not be used while masks are required indoors. This may be modified if our policies change throughout the year. 

Physical Education
Physical education classes will be held outdoors whenever possible. Masks will not be required outdoors, but physical distancing will be maintained. When physical education classes are held indoors, masks will be worn.

Field Trips & Overnights
Daytime field trips will resume and all COVID protocols will be in place on bus transportation. We will not have any overnight trips until at least January and will revisit the COVID context at that time to make any decisions about second semester overnight trips.

Extended Day, After-School Supervision, and After-School Clubs & Activities
We will continue to have Extended Day for Lower School students (before/after school) and After-School Supervision for Middle and Upper School students. Students will be spaced out to the extent possible and all health and safety protocols used during the school day will be followed. Families should note that although there is a separate space for Lower School students in the Dining Hall Commons, students will not be cohorted and may safely interact with students from other classes. We are making efforts to bring back Lower School after-school clubs and activities and will share that information with families once that decision is made.

Visitor Policy
To start the school year, Moorestown Friends School will not be open to visitors. The only current exceptions are visitors who are directly supporting the educational program at MFS. These individuals will fill out a symptom screening form and will be masked at all times while indoors. Parents, guardians, and other visitors may make appointments for outdoor, virtual, or phone meetings with MFS faculty and staff, as needed. A table will remain outside of Stokes Hall where parents/guardians may leave items for their children such as forgotten lunches, water bottles, or other supplies. When dropping items off, parents/guardians will be asked to email the divisional office as well as the student’s teacher/advisor to coordinate pick-up of the item. 

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

Coronavirus Response Team: Danielle Dayton, Julia de la Torre, Jenel Giles, Meredith Godley, Evan Haine-Roberts, Noah Rachlin, Jen Raue (School Nurse), and Mike Schlotterbeck.

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

Teens, Tweens & Quarantines is a virtual Minding Your Mind presentation by Jon Mattleman for parents and caregivers.

Articles by the Child Mind Institute:

Will My Child Bounce Back From the Coronavirus Crisis?

Helping Kids Face the Challenges of Reopening

Managing Anxiety During Reopening

Additional Articles:

Kids Feel Pandemic Stress Too. Here’s How To Help Them Thrive