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.
The Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) 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. We thank you for your partnership as we make decisions with the best interests of our students, faculty/staff, and families in mind.
Guiding Principles and Assumptions
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.
- 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.
- In order to balance the educational and health needs of our community, we understand that unless all families and employees are under strict quarantine, there will always be an element of risk to convening in person. Our goal is to mitigate that risk and create the healthiest environment possible in which children can learn.
- The school year will look different from what we have known in the past and may include some combination of virtual, face-to-face, and hybrid learning, as waves of infection impact our geographic area.
- We will operate on campus only if it is in alignment with our local and state authorities and if we can successfully and reasonably follow the CDC guidelines available at the time.
- Moorestown Friends will prioritize our youngest learners (Lower School) on campus as much as possible, as they require the greatest hands-on support to grow and learn and are less independent than older students.
COVID-19 Information Sources
CRT is monitoring several key sources for information and guidance on COVID-19:
Health and Hygiene
At school, students and employees can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by maintaining healthy behaviors, including regular handwashing, the use of face coverings, good coughing etiquette, social distancing, reduced mixing between groups, and limited sharing of supplies or materials. Staying home when exhibiting any signs of illness is particularly important and we ask that all families adhere to this request. MFS will work hard to ensure children remain connected to their classrooms, and teachers will make reasonable adjustments to support students’ continued learning. In this way, no one will need to take the risk of coming to school when sick. All of these layered tactics will mitigate the overall risk to the community.
Please refer to the Return to School 2020 web page for much more information.
Family Health & Wellness Pledge
Family Health & Wellness Pledge: Revised Winter 2020-21
As we enter the winter months, rates of COVID-19 are on the rise around the country and in our region. In an effort to safeguard the health of our community and preserve in-person education, MFS has revised the Health & Wellness Pledge, providing a level of specificity and clarity that we hope will emphasize the commitments we must all make to our community in order to preserve on-campus learning. Adhering to this pledge is more important now than ever, and your careful review and acknowledgement of these revised commitments are critical to a successful school year during a pandemic. In signing this pledge, you understand that our community is deeply interconnected and we all play an important role in preserving the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and families. Please review this document carefully, as it will inform what Learning Mode (MFS@Home or MFS@School) you will choose for your child.
FOR ALL FAMILIES: @Home or @School
I commit to…
• exercising patience with others, assuming good intentions, and aiming to be a part of the solution.
• upholding the values of MFS and engaging respectfully with all community members.
• intervening should I hear of others participating in discriminatory behavior related to COVID-19 aimed at people of a particular background or towards those who have been in contact with the virus.
• open and transparent communication with the school characterized by a spirit of partnership and collaboration.
• having direct, honest, and respectful conversations with other families if I am uncomfortable with their actions, knowing that we are all active participants in creating our shared community.
FOR STUDENTS LEARNING ON CAMPUS
For my child to learn on campus, I commit to…
• completing a daily health screening for each child prior to arriving at school.
• keeping my child home if they show any signs of illness associated with COVID-19 or if the daily symptom assessment indicates I should do so.
• keeping my child home if they, others in our household, or someone close to my child (babysitter, extended family, etc.) are exposed to COVID-19, test positive for COVID-19, or are awaiting test results until they are known.
• openly communicating with the school any COVID test results for those in my home. In the case of my child, I commit to sharing test results in writing on official letterhead, knowing that my child’s COVID status may have broader implications for others and their families, including the potential of quarantine.
• allowing the school to administer a temperature check or other appropriate medical assessments when necessary. In the event my child shows symptoms of illness, I will promptly pick them up from school to go home.
• ensuring my child has a properly fitting face covering on a daily basis from the moment they enter campus.
• ensuring my child is following all school protocols and procedures, including social distancing, proper mask wearing, and effective hand hygiene.
• ensuring my child reports symptoms to a teacher or school nurse immediately.
• adhering to any required quarantine period and following any guidance from the school in order for my child to return to campus after any period of time at home.
• making sure everyone in my carpool or shared transportation is wearing a face covering to/from school, unless they are part of my same household.
• openly communicating with the school should I have any questions about an activity or experience that my child is involved in that may conflict with the Pledge.
While off campus, my child(ren) and my family commit to…
• following federal, state, and local orders regarding social distancing, safe gatherings, and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In an effort to be extra cautious and to ensure that those coming to campus can continue to gather safely for in-person learning, here are some examples of activities to AVOID:
• hosting or participating in sleepovers
• gatherings of any size (parties, weddings, social events, etc.) where mask wearing and social distancing cannot be maintained, whether inside or outside
• group sports, activities, or lessons whose safety protocols are not aligned with those of Moorestown Friends School
• crowded, unmasked environments where distancing cannot be maintained
• non-essential travel
• mixing with anyone outside of the household
We understand that Moorestown Friends School is asking our families to make sacrifices this year in order to maintain an in-person program. We rely on each and every family to do their part to sustain a healthy community. If you and your child are NOT able to commit to the on-campus pledge this winter, your child can learn through MFS@Home. If your child is learning through MFS@School, you are welcome to change to MFS@Home for any reason, but you must remain in MFS@Home until the next learning period change occurs. If you wish to change from MFS@Home to MFS@School, you will be asked to reaffirm your commitment to this pledge before your child can come to campus. If your family is unable to uphold these commitments, you may be asked by the school to have your child learn remotely for a period of time (a minimum of two weeks or maybe more).
We thank you for your partnership and understanding, as we refine our Health & Wellness Pledge in an effort to support the safest environment possible for our students and employees.
[Families sign via myMFS portal]
In light of the global pandemic, Moorestown Friends School discourages non-essential travel during the 2020-21 school year. As part of our community pledge, we recognize that what we do outside of school has a direct impact on our students, faculty, and staff who attend school each day. In an effort to minimize impact on our community as well as impact on individual students and their education, we ask that families carefully consider any travel plans this year.
If a student travels outside of the immediate area (CT, NY, PA, DE), they will be asked to quarantine at home for 10 days. If they are feeling well during that time, they can attend school remotely. An individual’s quarantine period may be shortened to 7 days with a negative COVID test result from a PCR test conducted 3-5 days after travel.
If a household member (including returning college siblings) returns from outside the immediate area and is without symptoms for COVID-19, but the student has not traveled, the student may continue to attend school. If the traveling household member exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, they are encouraged to visit their physician and seek a COVID test. The student will be asked to stay home until the results of the test are known.
Frequently Asked Questions
Revised December 31, 2020
Under what conditions would you consider moving to Modified Remote or All Virtual Learning?
At any time, we may be asked by the state or the county to move to remote learning, should the community spread of COVID-19 rise to concerning levels. At times, the Governor makes decisions that affect public schools only; other times, decisions affect all schools, including independent institutions. There may be times when the state or county allows for in-person learning, but Moorestown Friends School may determine that remote learning is safer for our community. This decision would always be made in consultation with our local department of health. There are a number of important factors that would influence our decision to move to a modified program or All Virtual Learning.
- If the state, county, or infectious disease experts recommend moving to remote learning, all or in part
- If we have inadequate staffing on-campus to support a quality in-person program
- If there are local outbreaks connected to our community or if cases of COVID are impacting school-aged children at increased rates in our area
- If there are two or more cases of COVID-19 on our campus within a 14-day period and the local department of health recommends closure depending on the circumstances of the cases, or there is an inability to effectively contact trace cases
- If there are several examples of linked transmission in our school or area schools (cases that are found to have originated and spread within a school setting)
- If rates of community spread of COVID-19 rise to concerning levels in our county or region (Southwest region of New Jersey is defined as Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem counties)
- The State Department of Health defines a “moderate” COVID-19 activity level as up to 10 new daily cases per 100,000 as calculated over a 14-day period and/or 3%-10% positivity. A “high” activity level is over 10-25 new daily cases per 100,000 or over 10% positivity.
- Should we see county transmission (primarily Burlington and Camden counties) at a 5% or more positivity rate, MFS would be in close contact with our local department of health to understand the root cause and to consider moving to a more hybrid or all remote learning model. A rapid increase in new daily cases per 100,000 may also lead to all virtual learning.
- We will be looking at ICU capacity in our region, availability of reliable testing, and the rate of transmission (Rt value), with greater than 1.0 being of concern.
- Moorestown Friends School is consulting a variety of sources for the latest metrics, including the New Jersey Department of Health, Covidactnow, and the Harvard Global Health Institute, as well as county and regional data.
It may be determined that complete campus closure is not necessary, but that de-densifying the campus or prioritizing our youngest students may be more advisable, given the circumstances.
Are face coverings required?
When worn correctly and consistently, face coverings can help slow the spread of COVID-19, together with other preventive actions and social distancing. In accordance with recommendations from the CDC and the State of New Jersey, Moorestown Friends School requires that face coverings be worn by students, employees and guests at all times indoors, unless they are under two years of age or have difficulty breathing. Any student or family requesting a medical exemption to the face covering requirement may take advantage of the MFS@Home learning option. Although the school will provide a cloth face covering for every student, families are encouraged to have a supply of comfortable cloth face coverings that are at least two layers and fit securely around the nose and mouth. Students should wash their face coverings daily, and it is advised to have a back-up face covering available at school or in backpacks, should one get soiled or wet during the day.
What types of face coverings are permitted?
There are a variety of cloth face coverings to choose from on the market, but MFS requests that 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. It is important to select face coverings that your child can tolerate for an extended period of time, so consider ear loops, ties, and materials that are breathable and gentle on the skin. Please refer to the dress code section of the Family Handbook, as the same guidelines that apply to selection of clothing will also apply to face coverings. Note that face shields are not a substitute for a cloth face covering.
Can students and employees take breaks from their face coverings?
While indoors, face coverings may only be removed briefly during meals when social distancing can be maintained, although outdoor lunch will be encouraged. For young students who have nap time as part of their day, they may remove face coverings since social distancing between mats will be ensured. Face coverings may be removed outdoors only if more than six feet of social distance can be maintained.
Will MFS be doing universal testing of students and employees?
Click here for detailed information about MFS COVID-19 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. MFS has decided to launch a weekly on-campus COVID testing program that will be a requirement for any on-campus activities. We will conduct weekly testing at least through the worst of the winter until we see some combination of declining case rates, vaccinations available to faculty and staff, and/or increased capacity in the county for testing and contact tracing.
When will my child(ren) be asked to stay home from school?
Individuals with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported, ranging from mild to severe. There is no single symptom that is uniquely predictive of COVID, and symptoms may appear anywhere from 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Possible symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following: Fever or chills; Cough; Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; Fatigue; Muscle or body aches; Headache; New loss of taste or smell; Sore throat; Congestion or runny nose; Nausea or vomiting; Diarrhea.
Parents should not send students to school when sick. After completing the daily symptom assessment, 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 (100.4 degrees or higher), cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of smell, or new loss of taste.
Parents should keep their child(ren) home if they or anyone in the household has been diagnosed or has been exposed to COVID-19. Additionally, if the child has traveled outside of the immediate area (CT, NY, PA, DE), they will be asked to quarantine in accordance with DOH guidelines. Any individuals who are deemed to be close contacts of a symptomatic individual will also be asked to quarantine as long as our Southwest Region is in the Orange or “High Risk” level, as identified by the NJ Department of Health. Once the symptomatic individual has a negative COVID test result, close contacts will be allowed to return to campus.
When can my child return to school?
If a student stays home or is sent home with symptoms of COVID-19, you must send to the nurse’s office either a negative COVID test result or a medical note with an alternative diagnosis in order to return to school. In addition, the student’s fever must be resolved for at least 24 hours without fever reducing medication and other symptoms must have improved. If a student has tested positive for COVID-19 or is a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, they will receive explicit instructions from the nurse’s office on when it is acceptable to return to campus.
What will happen if there is a positive case of COVID-19 on campus?
If a child or family member of a child receives a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, we ask that you contact the school immediately. Once the school learns of a positive case–either student or employee–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. 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. As long as routine cleaning and disinfecting have been done at least daily, additional cleaning measures are not necessary unless the COVID-19 positive person is in school on the day the school officials learn of the positive test. If this is the case, MFS will close off areas used by the person who is confirmed positive, open windows to increase air circulation in the areas, and wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting all affected areas. In consultation with the local health officials, the school administration will determine what closure (classroom, division, school), if any, would be necessary.
Will I be notified if there is an exposure or positive case of COVID-19 on campus?
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 the student or employee on-campus population, 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. Notification will not be sent to the community if there is a case among our MFS@Home population, as there is no risk of transmission posed to others on campus.
How will contact tracing work at the school?
Contact tracing is a strategy used to determine the source of an infection and how it is spreading. 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. 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.
How will the nurse’s office work this year?
Two rooms will be used to manage all medical needs. The nurse’s office will handle all non-COVID-related needs. The Moriuchi Room in Stokes Hall has been designated our COVID isolation room. This room is outfitted with floor to ceiling plastic panels for three separate spaces: a space for evaluation and two isolation bays for COVID symptomatic students or adults. The space is a short term isolation room where suspected cases will stay awaiting immediate parent/guardian pick up.
What outdoor spaces are being provided for learning, lunch, or other activities?
We have identified more than ten spaces on campus grounds where outdoor classrooms can be held. Some sun shade sails and canopies will be installed to provide more shade and shelter for comfort. In the winter, limited heat lamps will be provided at various locations on campus. On a daily basis, teachers will take into consideration class content and technology needs, which will guide their decision on outdoor learning.
Previous School Communications
Change in COVID Testing Plan Going Forward
January 23, 2021
Testing Follow-Up and Campus Reopening
January 21, 2021
Follow-Up on Weekly Testing Results
January 19, 2021
Weekly COVID-19 Testing – A Video Overview
January 19, 2021
COVID-19 Update: Important Updates and Reminders
January 15, 2021
Re-Entry COVID-19 Testing Results and Case Notification
January 10, 2021
Re-Entry COVID Testing Update
January 9, 2021
Weekly COVID Testing To Start January 19
January 9, 2021
Important Information Regarding Re-Entry COVID Testing
January 4, 2021
Important Return to School Information
December 31, 2020
Important Announcements Before the Winter Break
December 18, 2020
MFS COVID-19 Testing Information – January 6-7
December 16, 2020
Refocus on Re-Entry: Planning Our Return to Campus
December 15, 2020
COVID-19 Case Notification
December 7, 2020
Important Update from the NJ DOH About Contact Tracing
December 4, 2020
COVID Notification Policy Update
November 30, 2020
COVID-19 Case Notification
November 24, 2020
COVID-19 Case Notification
November 21, 2020
COVID-19 Case Notification
November 19, 2020
MFS Moving To Virtual Learning Post-Thanksgiving
November 17, 2020
COVID-19 Update from Head of School Julia de la Torre
November 12, 2020
COVID-19 Cases Notification
November 9, 2020
Follow-Up Message Regarding Recent COVID Cases
November 6, 2020
Update on Learning Mode for Next Week
November 5, 2020
COVID-19 Case Notification
November 5, 2020
Upper School To Move To All Remote Learning
November 5, 2020
COVID-19 Cases Notification
November 4, 2020
COVID-19 Case Notification
November 2, 2020
Click here to visit the archived Return to School 2020 web page which includes the Return to School Plan and MFS@Home Remote Learning Summary.
Questions and concerns may be sent directly to the Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coronavirus Response Team: Julia de la Torre, Jenel Giles, Meredith Godley, Evan Haine-Roberts, Noah Rachlin, Jen Raue (School Nurse), and Mike Schlotterbeck.
Resources for Parents and GuardiansWe 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
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: