July 1, 2020
Dear Church Farm School Community,
With warm greetings from a beautiful school campus, I am very pleased to share the following information about our plans to reopen for the 2020-2021 academic year with a goal to return to on-campus learning according to a revised annual schedule.
First, many thanks to all students, families, faculty, staff and friends of the school for your understanding and patience in support of our efforts to navigate the unchartered waters presented by the important health concerns and still fluctuating government responses to the persisting global pandemic. Our students have been first and foremost in our thinking and planning with their safety, health and welfare being paramount to a successful opening and administration of a school year that will continue to be challenged by the virus. And I am mindful that as states and local areas around the country are opening businesses and recreational areas, there has been an upsurge in the number of reported cases which may lead to returned social distancing and other similar requirements. Even as we plan for returning to campus, please keep in mind that the risk of a return to distance learning for health and safety’s sake is a reality and certainly possible.
Please read through the and note the significant changes from the one sent to you earlier in the year. This new calendar is now operative so that additional planning can be accomplished and details provided. It supersedes all other calendar information you may have received. No calendar is perfect and I fully recognize that in this one a lot will be asked of our students, families and faculty members in making the necessary adjustments in support of our ability to operate effectively as a residential community. I am confident that we can do so if each of us agrees to do our part.
Other important general information follows, and an FAQ section can be found on our reopening website. More specific details will be provided in subsequent communications as we head more fully into July and August. Our goal is to have everyone fully informed and as ready as possible for a school year that will be decidedly different from prior years, yet still possessing the core experience of a CFS education within a residential program.
- The safety and health of all community members within an appropriate standard of care and reducing potential exposure to the virus within the core content of our program. Risks to the health of individuals remain and we will follow guidelines.
- The important mission work of Church Farm School and the supporting relationships students are able to form with one another and caring adults in a residential community.
- Preserving and enhancing the quality and strength of our entire educational program and adhering to our core values of respect, responsibility, integrity and brotherhood.
- Seeking and teaching reasonable and appropriate tolerance for flexibility should plans need to change for an individual and/or the community.
Health and Wellness Preparation
- All required health forms are to be complete and accurate with appropriate signatures and dates before arrival to campus.
- Families should be prepared to support their student’s arrival on campus by making sure each has minimized potential exposure to the virus for at least two weeks prior to coming to campus. Please refrain from travel or attending events and places with greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. A wellness screen will take place upon arrival to campus. Any student or family member not having completed the required forms and/or exhibiting symptoms will be asked to return home and the student required to remain out for two weeks of quarantine before attempting a return again.
- It is expected that students will arrive with a personal supply of cloth masks (7-10) which can be laundered. Having a personal supply of additional hand sanitizer and disinfectant is recommended.
- All community members will have daily health checks.
International Students - US. Arrival Date is August 21
- International students should plan to arrive on August 21 and will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to the CFS campus.
- International students should check their Visa documents well in advance to be sure they are in order for entry into the U.S.
- International students are required to have a designated U.S. host or guardian with whom they can stay in the event of future illness and/or campus closure.
Domestic Students – Phased Arrival Dates
- A phased arrival to campus is intended to create space and time between groups so that each can be monitored for at least seven days before the next group arrives. Please note the arrival date assigned to your grade level.
- As indicated above, all community members will be required to have a daily wellness check.
- Parents must be prepared to have their student return home immediately in the event of concerns raised by this important check-in process.
- Day students will not be permitted to stay on campus overnight for the entire school year.
The First Semester and Campus Containment
- In order to mitigate risk, minimize potential exposure to the virus and stay potential quarantine, students will not be permitted to return home for weekends or otherwise leave campus until the end of the semester. Students should be prepared to be restricted to campus unless they are part of a sanctioned school program and/or event.
- We will hold classes on Saturday mornings in order to spread classes over a more reasonable time frame and pace in order to complete the semester before the Christmas holiday.
- Allowing for a full semester and to mitigate risk and minimize potential exposure to the virus as the flu season begins, students will return home at the start of the Thanksgiving holiday on November 20 and finish their classes online through distance learning byl Friday, December 18.
The Second Semester
- We will conduct a phased return to campus starting on January 31 and will run a similar daily schedule as in the fall.
- Students will be expected to stay on campus for the semester without a traditional spring break, but with other days of rest added to the schedule.
- Classes will run until the end of the semester on May 14 with final assessments and exams the following week ending on May 20.
- Baccalaureate and Commencement exercises will be held on Sunday, May 16.m(PIAA Track Championships are Saturday, May 15).
Thank you for your thoughtful review and understanding of these larger pieces to the challenge of hosting students on campus within our residential program. They establish the essential parameters by which other decisions regarding health standards and the greater educational program of the school can be made effectively.
More information will be forthcoming as additional details are worked out. Again, thank you very much for your continued partnership and support. Together, we will engage in a sound and productive school year.
With very best wishes,
N. SherrillMay 1, 2020
Head of School | Church Farm School
I wish to start this letter by thanking all of you for the patience, devotion and caring support you have so generously offered your children as they have been required by government health mandates to continue their schooling at home during this pandemic. The continual adjustments these conditions have necessitated may vary according to individual circumstances, but the increased burden and concerns you have for your families are very much on my heart and mind. CFS values its partnership with you and I trust that everything we can and are doing to support our students also extends to you. Everyone’s health and wellbeing remains our priority. While we have been holding out some hope to hold a few in person end-of-year events, it is important that we communicate some decisions about them and other school matters now so that you are in better position to firm up your own personal planning. Additional details about how each student and family can participate virtually in these events and schedule a return to campus to pick up personal belongings will be forthcoming in additional communications. Graduation Exercises for the Class of 2020 will be a virtual event held on Saturday, May 30 at 10:00 a.m. ET. Our efforts are to make this event as meaningful and tied to our school’s traditions as possible. Clearly, it will not replace the experience of being on campus or in the Chapel, yet we will honor and celebrate each graduate offering our blessing as they head into a larger world awaiting them. The Class of 2020 will be able to come together via Zoom or similar platform to celebrate in a synchronous school-sponsored social event immediately after the graduation ceremony concludes. Our planning for an on-campus celebration for the Class of 2020 is to welcome them back for Alumni Weekend in May of 2021 when college sessions are likely to have ended for the summer. They will be the special and honored guests at Alumni Dinner and also be able to gather at the Chapel’s altar rail right before the dinner for the traditional blessing. College Draft Day will be a virtual event held on May 20 at 10:15 a.m. ET. This relatively new and dynamic event is fast becoming a much anticipated tradition as it celebrates the next step to be taken in each graduating senior’s educational journey. Having decided on a destination for the fall, this is a great opportunity to let loose a little and shout for joy. School Awards Night will be a virtual event held on Tuesday, May 26, at 8 p.m. ET. The hour is to accommodate those students joining in from Asia where it will be morning the following day. Awards Night celebrates significant school-wide academic, athletic and community achievements that have been earned by students at all grade levels. The induction of National Honor Society members that is traditionally part of this ceremony is now planned for Convocation in September as school resumes. Collecting personal belongings still depends on some loosening of government travel and social distancing restrictions. We are creating a schedule that can accommodate a series of times when families can return to campus, gather personal effects and return school technology, text books, keys and any athletic uniforms students may have. This schedule is still being constructed and it, along with other details about how this can work best, will be shared in future communications. Restart of school in September will also depend on government decisions being made over the summer months. Thoughtful and responsible planning will take some time to produce since it has to cover several scenarios that could be in effect by late summer and that are contingent upon how the virus may or may not be under greater control. CFS is working to provide more detailed information no later than July 1, 2020 about how we plan to start. Enrollment contracts for 2020-2021. We realize that the changed economic situation has added financial stress and concern to families and the tuition they may be paying. Our historic mission goals and continued efforts are to make the CFS educational opportunity accessible and affordable. Any changes to individual family circumstances that will affect an ability to pay tuition should be communicated to the Admission Office for an evaluation of any adjustments that could be made. This is not a guarantee of a reduced tuition, but it is a promise that we will work with you. In closing, I reiterate how appreciative I am of your partnership with us and how proud my colleagues and I are of all our young Griffins who, like you, are doing so much to adjust to these life changing, no life shaping, events. The test of our community is the strength of our relationships and I trust that the information in this communication is helpful and useful to you as you make plans for the immediate future and summer months. I anticipate a reasonable, appropriate and happy closure to the current school year and that the coming year will welcome our returning Griffins back to campus eager and ready to go. Meanwhile, may God’s blessings and assurances of an everlasting hope be with you and especially the Class of 2020. With every good wish, let’s stay in touch! Sincerely yours,
Head of School | Church Farm School
April 1, 2020
Dear CFS Students, Colleagues and Families,
My prayer and abiding hope is that this message will find you in good spirits and good health wherever you may be. Each of you is a blessing to Church Farm School and to you, our students in particular, we send our abiding love and heartfelt greetings.
Today, our school marks the occasion of its 102nd anniversary and we rightly celebrate God’s continuing blessing on our important educational mission. It is nonetheless surreal to be doing so under such circumstances deprived of the customary hustle and bustle of an active school campus fully engaged in what it does best: living, learning, working and playing together as a community of friends. God certainly knows just how much we all long to be back here.
The impact of the current pandemic continues to widen as government mandates for social distancing have shuttered businesses and restricted gatherings of people in every effort to halt its spread. The one thing that seems to slow the virus is the very thing all of us have the most control over and that is our behavior. Let’s do our part and remain focused on this plan to take care of our collective wellbeing in an unprecedented human moment. And you already know that these directives have been extended to the end of April and in some neighboring states to the end of May. The unavoidable reality of this need to protect ourselves, one another and our communities from greater risk to the virus necessitates the expansion of our distance learning program.
Church Farm School will continue with distance learning though the remainder of the school year. Such a decision to lay aside so many good things is not made lightly and does not come easily. At the same time, may we do so with strength and courage knowing it is the best and most prudent decision for the welfare of all. Strengthened by the knowledge of just how well all of our students and their teachers have already adjusted to distance learning, I am absolutely confident that every member of the community will rise to the moment and do his or her part to assure a safe, healthy and productive conclusion to the academic year.
You will have a lot of concerns and I look to address some of them now. Please be assured that future communications will also inform you in greater detail about our planning and scheduling of those important things you may have on you mind.
- Personal belongings – Cottages are secure and will remain closed until such time when government officials lift social distancing requirements and permit adequate and appropriate travel. A schedule of when students may return to campus to pick up their belongings will be communicated once we believe it is safe to return for this purpose.
- Academic credit – CFS continues its distance learning program and students are expected to adhere to all of the norms and guidelines for its successful completion as spelled out in the Student/Parent Handbook and additional communication coming from Assistant Head of School, Mr. Seeley, and the Academic Office. The distance learning program is geared for every student’s successful completion of the year as long as he does his part to responsibly meet its expectations.
- Technology – Students remain obligated to take care of laptop computers, chargers and their cases. These are the essential tool needed for continued distance learning. These will either need to be brought back to school when you are able to return for your personal belongings or securely mailed back to the school. Postage costs will be credited to your school account or reimbursed.
- Events and trips – All of these have either been cancelled or postponed. Choir members will be hearing from me and Mr. Gress in a separate communication about plans for the Israel trip. We are looking at ways we might hold a virtual spring Awards Ceremony.
- Elections – Mr. Blair and Mr. Serbin will be working with student leadership on an effective way to conduct elections for the coming school year.
- Graduation – CFS still seeks a way to hold commencement exercises at school, perhaps even into the first weekend in June. Again, we remain dependent on government officials to let citizens know when and under what conditions it will be safe to travel and gather in larger groups of people.
As I mentioned, future communication will spell out more details about these and other essential matters although, no doubt, you will have other questions and concerns. For now, my request of students is that you remain focused on what you can control which is your own health and wellbeing as well as your schoolwork. Advisors and teachers support you and please use these trusted relationships to help initiate conversation about anything that may be on your mind.
My respect and admiration for all you only deepens as I witness the determination you all have to succeed and find opportunity amidst the challenges of the present situation. It is the true excellence of the human spirit and endeavor to find new opportunities, new paths of service and certainly to be of use to one another when the going gets tough. Excellence surely looks good on you and I trust that you are both willing and able to continue that pursuit for it will serve to make our relationships, indeed our brotherhood and commonwealth, that much stronger, richer and meaningful.
A closing prayer:
May God Almighty direct our days in his peace, and grant us the gifts of his blessing; may he deliver us in all our troubles, and establish our minds in the tranquility of his peace; may he so guide us through things temporal that we finally lose not the things eternal. Amen.
May God watch over you and keep you and all those whom you love and care for safe. Stay strong, stay focused, stay well!March 29, 2020
Head of School | Church Farm School
Greeting to all Griffins – Students, Colleagues, Families and Friends! I continue to pray for each of you daily, trusting that you are doing well, continuing to observe all important good health habits and observing social distancing requirements. These are our ongoing priorities and, while many of us are more confined to a home environment and with limited physical contact with our respective neighborhoods, I know that your strength, faith and focus on things that matter most will carry you and our community through this moment. This letter intends to provide a general overview of school life, specific updates about particular matters and/or where to find additional information as we move into a second week of distance learning and with school support systems still largely functioning from a home environment. Most impressive are the expressions of faith, courage and resourcefulness that are being shared continuously across the digital platform. God has blessed us with one another and may you experience this ability to connect while away from campus as a newfound form of holiness (that reverential quality of time and experience), most especially through the depth of concern we share for each other’s wellbeing. CFS offices are open and functioning from home offices for the time being. Essential services and information that the business office, admission and development offices can provide continue. Of course, the Academic and Student Life offices are in close contact with students and faculty. Each week, Director of Academics Mr. Chris Seeley is providing a separate and dedicated communication about distance learning objectives and functions. His letter is the product of weekly conversation and thorough planning being done by departments and each faculty member. Additional information about connections between advisors and advisees is included in his message and I simply ask here that you pay close attention to added details contained therein about mutual support, schedules and deadlines. While CFS still posts a return to school for Monday, April 13 this is very likely to extend and I want you to be prepared for a longer absence from campus. The leadership team that has been helping guide the school through this event will be reviewing what options we believe are appropriate basing decisions on public health data and government-issued guidelines and mandates. I will share an adjusted timetable and information about related matters as soon as that decision is made. All of us around the leadership table are proud of all the adjustments you have already made in light of this new reality. Tending to strategies for daily learning, particularly creating a regular schedule and work habit, is essential. Taking care of your emotional wellbeing by planning and taking breaks, developing a hobby, learning to cook, reading for pleasure, etc. is important, too, and we will be sharing tips in future communications about these good habits and resources you can explore. I imagine you are sharing many of your own healthy ideas with one another already! Worth repeating is the continuing responsibility we have to carefully and seriously attend to all of the patterns by which we live habitually, our auto-pilot movements and how that contact may cause anyone of us to eventually receive or carry the virus elsewhere. Please be responsible and do your part. Anyone with symptoms is urged to contact their healthcare provider immediately and please let Ms. Seanna Meehan, Director of Nursing, know of anything that would have implications for the CFS community. The community’s health and wellness is also supported by our counselor, Ms. Stefanie Rosinsky, and Chaplain John Daniels. Please reach out to them should you have a particular worry or concern and look for more helpful tips and resources in future communications from the school. Remember to keep up with your own good health habits: wash hands frequently, don’t touch your face where germs can get into eyes, nose and mouth, cough into your sleeve, wipe down those cell phones - there is “Hope in Soap!” Look out for family members, help one another around the house and be well. Thanks for understanding. Reach out to your advisor and know that the administration is also here for you if you have questions. And, from the school’s Episcopal tradition,(we will continue to do this weekly, you can view) and let me otherwise close with this prayer for guidance:
A Prayer for Guidance
Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Stay strong, stay in touch, stay well!
Head of School | Church Farm School
March 16, 2020
Dear Members of the CFS Community,
The unfolding series of government responses to the COVID-19 crisis, now defined as a pandemic, continues to affect Church Farm School and its planned resumption of typical campus operations after the end of spring break next week. The Governor of Pennsylvania has ordered that all schools in the commonwealth be closed for the next two weeks. That duration could expand.
Today, Church Farm School is taking increased action and doing its part to honor our shared goals and responsibilities as human beings, God’s children, by responsibly participating in mandates designed to slow the spread of this virus. CFS has moved into Level Three of our response planning which calls for the temporary suspension of normal school operations out of an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our community.
Important things to know now:
- Students are to stay home and the CFS campus will not reopen for normal school operations until at least April 13, the Monday after Easter.
- International students are encouraged to stay where they are, either at home or with their support network here in the U.S. Only international students unable to return home and who do not have a U.S. homestay option will be permitted to return to campus on Monday, March 23.
- Students will resume their educational program by distance learning on Tuesday, March 24. Additional instructions and guidelines about this program will be sent later this week from the Academic Office.
Members of faculty have been preparing for this scenario. Specific information about this work and how students can engage in it will be coming later this week in additional written communication from the Assistant Head of School and Director of Academics, Mr. Seeley, and from the Academic Office. This information is specifically designed to help students focus their own planning for the continuation of their academic work at home.
Students will be hearing directly by telephone from their advisors by Thursday, March 19. First, we want to check-in with each student individually and make sure they know of our continuing support. Second, each advisor will have a checklist of information the school needs to know in order to best facilitate each student’s learning from home. Third, advisors will report any issues back to school leadership particularly as they may relate to technological matters and what we anticipate to be a smooth delivery of our distance learning program.
Additional communication from the Director of Student Life, Mr. Blair, will be forthcoming to detail how students might schedule a return to campus in order to collect personal belongings from their cottage rooms. Cottages will be locked without student key card access. This is to assure that campus visits can be regulated and the security and safety of cottage spaces can be appropriately maintained. Please do not make any personal arrangements to come to campus without direct communication with Mr. Blair. His office will pass all arrangements along to faculty residing in the cottages.
Our partnership with you is essential in order to ensure that students understand the school's expectations while participating in distance learning. In addition, we share your concerns during this prolonged school closure as families seek to balance work responsibilities while facilitating their child’s distance-learning program. We certainly look to support one another and our students emotionally as well and please let us know of any matters our advisors or our School Counselor, Ms. Rosinsky
, can support. Our Head Nurse, Seanna Meehan
, is also available for any questions regarding COVID-19.
Please continue your own observance of personal safety and good health guidelines. A lot of the actions we take now will serve our shared interests in the health and well-being of all.
In closing, I would like to share what a good friend of mine, The Rev. Dan Heischman, sent earlier this morning about what we are experiencing and how we might best respond. He wrote:
We are carrying out these contingency plans for a larger purpose—the well-being of our communities and how we must respond to crises with compassion and courage. It is so easy, at times like these, with events seemingly spinning out of control, to lose sight of the bigger picture, the reasons we are doing these things, the purpose behind being school.
As Margaret Wheatley once observed, “It is possible to prepare for the future without knowing what it will be. The primary way to prepare for the unknowable is to attend to the quality of our relationships, to how well we know and trust one another.” Here, blessedly, is where Episcopal schools are at their best—in knowing and trusting one another, in adhering to a clear purpose, our very reason for being.
It certainly is our hope that every student knows he is loved here at Church Farm School and that the best in us and in our relationships will serve us well as we face the challenges of this moment together and in them find new opportunities for discovery and affirmation as fellow travelers in life.
May God watch over you and bless you, and please let me know how we can best support you.
Sincerely yours,March 12, 2020
Head of School | Church Farm School
Dear Members of the CFS community,
Thank you for staying in close touch with CFS as we continue to learn more about the developing situation regarding COVID-19. The impact of this virus and its presence in the US is certainly being felt in many places, including our expanded region, and we are closely monitoring government directives closer to where we are in Chester County. Spring break is affording us some extra time to understand these directives and plan accordingly. Thus, the following information will be updated again on Monday, March 16, when our planning team will meet next and after which time additional details and direction will be provided. If you have not already done so, please review our March 9 communication which you may read on our website here
At this time, we continue to follow Level Two protocols with a focus on the health and well-being of the community, a deep cleaning of the campus and its common spaces and readying of a distance learning plan for our students and their instructors should students be unable to return to campus or should we decide to increase our level of response which would likely involve a separation of all students from campus for an extended period of time.
Some important things to remember:
Please stay home and contact your physician if you are ill (especially if you have a temperature of 100.4+, shortness of breath and cough)
Avoid larger public gatherings and monitor health directives given in your area
Report any travel outside of the continental US, flu-like illness or self-isolation decision to the CFS Health Center: 610-363-5349
We plan to open school either by a return to campus on March 23 or by offering a distance learning program that will start on March 24
- Students should identify a good place to study with connection to internet/wi-fi
- Please contact the CFS main office at 610.363.7500 should you require assistance with internet connectivity
Communication of next steps for students will be made again on Monday, March 16
We continue to communicate regularly and work closely with the Chester County Department of Health and other resources available to us as we carefully and deliberately consider what is best for every member of the Church Farm School community following an “abundance of caution” framework.
As we continue pursuing that healthy and successful outcome we all desire, thank you so much for your own patient support, ongoing preparation and continuing prayers for the wonderful people of our community, nation and, indeed, the whole world.
March 9, 2020
Head of School | Church Farm School
I write to update you about our continuing planning concerning the spread of COVID-19. Church Farm School desires to protect the safety and wellbeing of its students, personnel, their families and visitors to campus and will follow government-issued directives and mandates that may be issued in response to the spread of this virus. Church Farm School’s administrative team and other members of school leadership are meeting regularly with me and we intend to communicate with you twice weekly, on Mondays and Thursdays, in order to provide relevant updates for your planning purposes. For those that might not have ready access to the internet, we are providing these dates in advance so that you can plan accordingly. If you wish to be put on a text or call notification list, please contact the main office 610.363.7500 leaving a message in the general mailbox if you are directed there.
Following is a summary of three protocol levels established to meet concerns and depending on where and when the virus may spread. CFS has been observing guidelines of Level One, and has commenced addressing Level Two, effective today.
The Reverend Edmund K. "Ned" Sherrill II
Head of School | Church Farm School