June 18, 2021
Dear CFS Families,
Greetings from Exton at a time when we welcome a few precious summer months, a greater reopening of social activity and increasing physical engagement with one another. With the arrival and administration of the Covid-19 vaccine, this summer promises greater opportunity for enjoyment and activity as the virus continues to recede. Future school communication will provide details about our plans to start the 2021-2022 school year with an expectation that we will be able to operate our residential, academic, athletic and other programming as fully as possible. That is exciting news for us and we trust for you as well. Importantly and primarily, the subject of this particular communication is to share with you how we are planning to provide for the continuing health, wellness and physical safety of all in our community.
Without question, the one significant development in approaching a fuller reopening of school plan has been the release and administration of several Covid-19 vaccines which are now widely available to the American public. These vaccines have been demonstrated to have a high level of efficacy and safety, to the point that the CDC advises that fully vaccinated people can go without masks with low risk to themselves or others. We have been greatly encouraged by this invaluable resource and school leadership has been carefully monitoring CDC updates and those coming from Pennsylvania health and education officials. We have discussed how some colleges and boarding schools in particular are handling vaccination protocols and requirements in many areas of the country, and we have spent the past few months considering all of the possible ways in which we might best approach this issue at Church Farm School.
Looking to the future and the possibility of operating our program as fully as possible, we have decided to require that all members of the CFS operational program – students and personnel – obtain the full regimen of their chosen Covid-19 vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson) by August 1 and provide reasonable documentation of the same to the school by August 20.
This action follows guidelines for the vaccine to have its full effect and is in accord with what many other residential school communities are also requiring in consideration of the safety of students and school personnel. Please note return dates by grade level within our recently published school calendar.
Leading considerations are: 1) an expectation that we will be utilizing double rooms in the cottages where all students ought to be able to live and move about freely as well as share three daily meals together in the dining center; 2) we expect to fully engage in regular academic offerings and close collaborative engagement; 2) we expect to host and attend athletic competitions with our partner schools in the Bicentennial Athletic League; 3) we expect to offer a full complement of curricular activity as well as weekend activities and community service engagement with the local community; 4) we want students to be able to travel to and from home on weekends, and for families to visit campus, when they are able to do so. Without question, the Covid-19 vaccine is the essential component in allowing us to accomplish these goals at significantly reduced levels of risk to the health and wellbeing of all in the community.
Health information that is regularly submitted to CFS through Magnus Health will be updated to include and facilitate submission of this new Covid-19 vaccine information. Should you have any concerns related to this issue, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Head Nurse, Ms. Julien Huang at firstname.lastname@example.org
or to Director of Student Life, Mr. Chet Blair at email@example.com
. We are aware that some members of the community may wish to decline vaccination for medical and/or religious reasons and will treat requests with respect and sensitivity w and consider those requests on a case-by-case basis in accordance with legal requirements while seeking to uphold the requirement as permitted by law.
It is important to state clearly that we expect to be open for full in-person business in the fall. Remote hybrid learning will not be available in the way it was offered this year. Our goal is to get our community back to its intended operational capability with faculty and staff focused on making the in-person experience the best it can possibly be.
Again, we look forward to communicating more important and exciting news about the opening of school soon, but want to make sure you have this essential health and safety information as soon as possible so that you can proceed to obtaining the vaccine if you have not done so already. I remain most grateful for your continuing partnership with us at Church Farm School and we look forward to a terrific school year.
With very best wishes,N. Sherrill
Head of School
November 20, 2020
Dear CFS Parents,
As we approach Thanksgiving and the opportunity it brings to be mindful of our many blessings, even in the era of a pandemic, I send you greetings and gratitude from the entire CFS professional community for your steady partnership with us. You have supported our many efforts and adjustments to launch and deliver an educational program for the first semester and we appreciate the countless efforts you have made, in turn, to accommodate your son’s learning either at home or on campus. Thank you.
We are looking ahead to a second semester and this communication is to share some key details about that plan. The Revised Reopening Plan is available on the Resource Board of the Parent Portal and linked from our website. Please take some time to review it. I also invite you to a Parent “Town Hall” Meeting with me and other administrators on Monday evening, November 23, at 7 p.m. via Zoom when we can engage in conversation and help answer questions and address concerns you may have.
Our plan and encouragement is to have all students return to campus for the second semester. The experience of having about one-third of our student population on campus for these last seven weeks has been positive, and both students and colleagues have gained greater confidence in our ability to move forward. Being together has given a sense of the possible and what will work. It will not be an easy or simple matter, and more people on campus invariably increases potential exposure to the virus, but we believe our plan can work well with everyone doing their part and steadfastly following essential health and wellness protocols.
We are also prepared to speak with and accommodate those students and families who may be unsure about this plan, wishing instead to remain at home for the duration of the school year. While we are able to accommodate this option, we are not encouraging it for two key reasons. First, a simultaneously offered virtual educational platform in the classroom and remotely (our definition of the hybrid model) is just not an equal experience for remote students. We know that these students will likely encounter a more challenging time trying to keep up with five 70 minute class periods per day and actively participate in classroom activities, attending all classes and meetings. Teachers are prepared to be and do their very best, but it is important to be clear that they can only do so much in the hybrid model.
Second, our greater educational program (athletics, residential life, service, etc.) is centered on the experience of being on campus. Protocols to mitigate contact with the virus will certainly restrict and challenge this program, but we have learned that students are very capable of adhering to mask wearing, hand washing, distancing, etc. and they have enjoyed being with one another and their teachers, coaches and house parents in ways we might have hoped under more normal conditions.
Nonetheless, Covid-19 remains a very real and present danger around the world and Chester County, PA, is no exception. It remains possible that a government mandated shutdown will return CFS to all remote learning.
Schedule and Major Dates
A copy of the revised schedule for the second semester can be found here; some key dates are provided below:
January 25 – Second Semester begins with remote learning for all students. Students are to restrict their contact with others outside their immediate homes in order to mitigate greater chances of exposure to the virus.
February 4-7 (Thursday – Sunday) – Students return to campus and immediately start a two week quarantine period in their respective cottages with classes continuing online. All meals will be provided in the cottages.
February 22 – Classroom-based and remote instruction begins. All meals will be provided in the Dining Hall. Day students may return to campus.
May 16 – Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2021 – Seniors depart
May 17-20 - Exam Week for underclassmen – May 20 underclassmen depart
Requirements for Day of Return
All families must return their student to CFS on their scheduled date and time. Exceptions may be made through the Director of Student Life, Mr. Chet Blair. That schedule and sign-up will be published in December.
All families must complete and submit to the Health Center all required and updated health forms before their student is permitted to remain on campus. Students will be turned away if this essential documentation is not complete.
Students and anyone bringing them to CFS must submit to a wellness screen upon their return. Do not come to school if you or your student are running a temperature or have other Covid-19 symptoms. Please feel free to reach out to Ms. Seanna Meehan, Head Nurse, if you have any questions or concerns.
Parents are asked to indicate whether or not their child will return to campus for the second semester by Friday, December 4. This deadline is necessary to permit CFS sufficient time to plan and schedule program and personnel appropriately.
I realize that this communication and the Revised CFS Reopening Plan presents a fair amount of information for you to work through and understand. We look forward to engaging in conversation Monday evening and being available afterwards to answer questions and hear your concerns. The pandemic continues to challenge us in many ways, yet I admire and deeply appreciate everyone’s adaptability and readiness to accept those things we cannot change while working well together on those things we can.
With warm wishes,
The Reverend Edmund K. Sherrill
Head of School | Church Farm School
August 18, 2020
With warm greetings from the CFS campus, I start this announcement with tremendous gratitude for every member of the CFS community, most especially for your patience and understanding as Church Farm School has sought to plan for the coming school year in the age of COVID-19. I also recognize just how much we are blessed by God’s grace and presence in our lives, a reality I pray that has brought you some measure of peace, comfort and strength.
At the beginning of summer, I shared with you our desired goal of having students return to campus for classroom-based learning. Greater details by which we have been planning to bring that goal to reality were also shared with the community by members of the administrative team and our Head Nurse during subsequent town meetings so that faculty, staff, parents and students could gain better understanding and a sense for what campus life with important health protections in place might feel like. A survey also went out to adults to further gauge sentiment and collect opinion. Thank you to all who were able to participate in the meetings, complete the survey and otherwise communicate with me and other administrators about how best to navigate our way forward in these uncertain times. The community has conveyed its strong preference to remain in the safety of remote learning at home.
It is also worth noting that, whether we started the year remotely online or in person on campus, we have intended to present our academic program in the clearest, most predictable, and reliable manner as possible in order that our students and their teachers could settle into a consistent routine. Bouncing back and forth between educational platforms does not serve anyone’s interests well. At the same time, CFS remains committed to life as a residential school and the relationships that deepen our experiences and enliven our learning well beyond the classroom.
The School has been closely attuned to what public officials are saying as well as the progress our campus construction is making. Both of these sources have presented new conditions. The essential facts are:
• Last Friday, the Chester County Health Department issued a recommendation that all schools in Chester and Delaware counties remain in remote learning until October 9.
• CFS has yet to receive a Certificate of Occupancy in order to operate school business within the renovated main building. While we are working hard to resolve outstanding issues, it may be toward the latter half of September before we obtain this needed document.
The Revised CFS Reopening Plan
In light of this new information and CFS community opinion, all academic learning will be online for the entire first semester. CFS is absolutely ready to support families who wish to have their student stay at home for the semester. Families desiring their student to return to campus living will have an option to do so starting later in September. Please click here for our revised School Calendar 2020-2021. To be clear, choosing whether to stay at home or return to campus, all student learning will be online for the entire fall semester.
Key Details for First Semester
• All classes start remotely online on September 10. Orientation meetings will start online September 7 with special programming for new students September 2-3. Communication about these programs will be sent out soon.
• Parents may choose to keep their student at home until the second semester.
• Parents may choose to have their student return to CFS according to a revised return schedule that will be issued when we learn how many students wish to return. Our goal is to provide a 14-day quarantine period concluding on Sunday, October 11.
• Notes on on-campus learning:
- Students will reside in a single room.
- All health protocols and social restrictions that were detailed in the CFS Reopening Plan remain in effect including being restricted to campus over weekends.
- Students will be tested at least twice for COVID-19 and families will be responsible for these test charges. Please consult your insurance coverage about this charge.
- Students unable to comply with stated protocols will be returned home and may be dismissed from the school.
- Athletic, residential and social programming will follow previously announced protocols and are dependent on the number of students on campus.
- All students on campus will return home for Thanksgiving on November 20.
- While we do not anticipate that many families will choose this option, preference will be given to 12th and 9th grade students followed by 11th and 10th grade students.
- Should fewer than 20 families choose this option, CFS may require all learning to be at home.
• Families must reaffirm their enrollment by Monday, August 24 at which time they must also declare their choice to stay at home or return to campus. Please use this form to indicate your family's preference. CFS will not consider a student enrolled until they complete this form.
• CFS will be mailing school-provided technology to students whose families have affirmed reenrollment and declared their stay at home or return to school choice.
• Presently, CFS is planning to resume classroom-based on campus learning for all students according to the previously announced schedule. This schedule is repeated on the revised calendar.
• Presently, CFS is not offering an online option for the second semester. This condition could change as health and government officials update Covid-19 response planning.
CFS remains sensitive to the needs of community members and seeks to be in clear and regular communication with you. The conditions of living with a pandemic have placed a burden on many if not all persons and educational institutions are no exception. In seeking to do well by our constituents, particularly our families and students, we note again that we continue to monitor directives from health and government officials. This particular plan is therefore also subject to change.
We believe that we have done, and will continue to do, our very best to minimize the risks of COVID-19 transmission, and we will reasonably expect all members of our community to do the same. Neither CFS nor any school can guarantee immunity from COVID-19 on campus, however, and it would be disingenuous to do so. By coming on to campus, all persons recognize and accept this risk and agree that continued contact and communication with school administrators is essential to our moving forward together.
I trust that this revised plan provides a way forward for most in our community. Again, thank you for your partnership with all of us at CFS, and please do not hesitate to write or call with your questions and concerns.
With very best wishes,
Head of School | Church Farm School
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 Revised Annual Calendar 2020-2021 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