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This page is designed as a hub for the Abington Friends School community regarding the coronavirus. All updates will be posted to this page, unless emergency communication is required.

Governor Wolf has announced various measures to slow the spread of coronavirus in the state. Beginning Friday, March 13, 2020, all schools in Montgomery County, including AFS, will be closed for an indefinite period of time. All AFS sports and extracurricular activities are also cancelled during this timeframe.


Email Communication to the School Community on March 23, 2020

Dear AFS Community:

I know that we all are finding our footing and grounding as we settle into this period of physical isolation in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus in our region. It helps to know that we are doing so for an important collective purpose – keeping our families healthy, protecting the vulnerable and seeking to lighten the burden of dedicated health care workers.

It is now clear that these measures to slow the spread of the virus will need to continue for some time into the future in order to be effective. With that knowledge and with the directives of the State for school closure, I am writing to confirm that the AFS campus will be closed for an indefinite period of time, perhaps even to the end of the school year. The time frame remains uncertain, but it will likely extend for weeks. If we receive the clearance to re-open campus, we will do so joyfully and with the rush of fresh energy and eagerness that we usually see at the start of the year.

I share this news feeling keenly the disappointment I know that so many of us feel at the loss of being together on a daily basis and the community events that so enrich us. I feel particularly for our Seniors. With hope of a return to school in time, we have moved all significant Senior events and major performances to late May and early June, including the Prom, Senior Recognitions, Academic Recognition Assembly, spring drama performances and concerts. We have kept the important Lower and Middle School Moving Up celebrations in place and are similarly ensuring that their concerts and performances are schedule near the end of the school year. We will share those revised calendars soon so that families may plan around the new dates.

After Spring Break, on March 30, we launch AFS Everywhere, our comprehensive educational program that will sustain vital connections for students, families, faculty and staff. While the campus is closed, our community, our relationships and our learning life will remain very much open. To ensure a vibrant ongoing learning experience for our students, our faculty and administrators have worked creatively, collaboratively and with clear purpose to create a distinct and engaging schedule for each division of the school.

The AFS Everywhere experience will include regular online lessons, but also provide opportunities to write, read, create art, engage in music and physical activity. It will also invite students to “off-line” learning experiences as well during this time away from campus, embracing our affinity for experiential and independent learning. We know how critical simple connection can be at a time of relative isolation. Our teachers thrive and are driven by this desire to connect; relationship is the essential medium for learning and the heart of an AFS education.  Please know that this spirit will remain central during AFS Everywhere.

I am so proud of our faculty and inspired by their work on this program. Later this week, letters from each division director will share more detailed information about AFS Everywhere. We will be assessing the program week-by-week, refining it to best meet the needs of students and families. I look forward to all of the lasting good that will come of this work and to witness what we will achieve together as a community.

Finally, I want to remind everyone in our community of our Community Cares Committee, a group of parents and caregivers who reach out to AFS families in need during times of hardship, providing meal service and other ways of relieving daily burdens. This is a time of hardship for many families and we hold all those affected in the light. If your family is in need at this time or you know of a family with needs, please fill out this form to notify the Committee. You can also contact Sloane Waldman, our wonderful Director of Parent Engagement, if you would like to volunteer for the Community Cares Committee.

I know that this time of isolation is hard, managing life at home with children while balancing myriad challenges from work and concerns for family members. I have great faith that AFS  families, faculty and staff will meet this time apart with hope, resourcefulness and a grounded spirit. In the spirit of a letter written by the president of Vassar College, let us always keep in mind the things that are not cancelled: care for each other, the awakening of spring in our midst, the power of the arts to move us, and the resiliency of our friendships, character and community, even at a relative distance.

We are planning creative ways to connect and gather as a community virtually and I look forward to “seeing” you in various ways over the weeks ahead. In the meantime, be well and take care.

All the best,


Rich Nourie

Email Communication Sent to School Community on March 12, 2020

Dear AFS Community:

Governor Wolf just announced in a press conference proactive measures to slow the spread of coronavirus in the state and particularly in Montgomery County. Starting tomorrow Friday, March 13, 2020 all schools in Montgomery County, including ours, are closed for two weeks at which time a decision about re-opening or remaining closed for another period of time will be made. All sports and extracurricular activities are also cancelled starting today, through the end of Spring Break.

We were able to gather all students in each division to gather their books and all materials needed for the foreseeable future. I fully support the decisive action taken by Governor Wolf and I know that we will successfully manage these challenges and opportunities together.

Faculty and staff will continue to use the days ahead to collaborate on AFS Online, our plan to keep school open virtually to provide ongoing learning and community with students should the campus remain closed beyond our Spring Break. Your Division Director will be communicating in days to come to update on this planning effort.

Despite the unusual circumstances, our students went off to Spring Break a few moments ago with joyful spirits and I wish all families well for meaningful time together over Break. May you read, ride bikes, enjoy the outdoors and each other’s wonderful company. I hold you all in the Light for your ongoing wellness and good health. We can take hope in knowing that these challenges will eventually pass and our community will only be made stronger by meeting these challenges well.

With care,


Rich Nourie

Email Communication Sent to School Community on March 11, 2020

Dear AFS Families:

As we continue to follow the development of the coronavirus news in our region, we also have continued to adapt our plans and responses as a community. I am grateful for the goodwill and grace people in our community have shown to each other – families, students and faculty staff – as we have navigated this uncharted path together. As of today, we have had no known exposure to the COVID-19 virus in our community.

Here are important decisions that we have made to ensure the strength of our community and our educational program through the weeks and months ahead:

First, we’ve made the decision that Spring Break will begin for students and families after school ends on Friday, March 13, three school days earlier than planned. This will allow for our professional community to have three days of uninterrupted time together to devote to developing AFS Online, our program for advancing learning and maintaining meaningful connections for students should our school be directed to close for an extended period of time this spring. I am grateful to faculty and staff for embracing the project of preparing for distance learning. It is both a significant challenge and a creative opportunity to explore curating resources that will enrich and engage our students if they are away from school. And this collaborative curricular work may well spur new approaches in teaching that will benefit our program well into the future.

We hope to return from Spring Break as scheduled on Monday, March 30. We regret any inconvenience that this change in the break causes families. With the benefit of having had no snow days this year, having the time to devote to important curricular work in this unusual circumstance is invaluable. Over the break, we will also extensively deep clean and disinfect the school.

Following recommendations of public health officials, we have cancelled or postponed large gatherings and events such as our Kicks for Cancer Tournament and this weekend’s Open House. The large Robotics competition at SCH has been cancelled. Other cancelled or postponed events include curriculum events such as Second Grade Egypt Night and the First Grade Heroes Breakfast and Assembly. We share our students’ disappointment for these missed opportunities, but are grateful for the very real learning and leadership experiences they have provided even without the culminating events. We are looking at other creative ways to share some of this good work. Avoiding exposure to larger crowds from varying communities limits exposure and the opportunity for the spread of illness and we will continue to evaluate and make decisions about events going forward.

As long as we continue to have no known exposure to the COVID-19 virus, we expect school to be open as it has been, with modifications to large gatherings and trips as has been our recent practice. If we experience exposure, we will be following the protocols and directives of our local and national public health officials and will communicate any incidents and responses promptly to the entire community. As stated in my last letter, If your child is better off at home due to any medical vulnerabilities while school is in session, please contact your division director so that we can do everything we can to support your family’s decision.

In the meantime, we encourage families and community members to continue to practice consistent preventive measures as outlined in previous communication. The concept of “social distancing” has become more prominent in prevention this past week, recognizing that the virus does not travel beyond six feet from an infected individual. Continuing to avoid handshaking and being mindful of maintaining space where feasible can be helpful in keeping our community healthy. We continue to ask that families keep children home who are sick and be especially attentive to fever, coughing and shortness of breath that can be symptoms of COVID-19 that appear 2-14 days after exposure. Please contact or see a doctor to evaluate any risk of infection and communicate any incidents to school so that we may respond as needed.

On Friday of this week, Division Directors will be sending their own letters to share division-specific news and perspective.

While we need to pay necessary attention to these issues, I am pleased to report that school remains a truly joyful, energized and buoyant community in the day-to-day. This morning from my office, I heard the music of energetic middle school children working on a project in the Library with Toni Vahlsing and it made me smile with gratitude for the spirit of children learning in a wonderful school like AFS. I will happily return to writing letters about life in our community shortly after our break.

All the best,

Rich Nourie

Preventative Measures - Health & Hygiene

We are asking you to continue to follow common best practices for preventing illness.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Do not come to campus if you have symptoms such as a fever and coughing and do not send your child to school if they are unwell. Seek medical care for the individual who is unwell. This article from the American Academy of Pediatrics, while not specific to COVID-19, can be helpful for families to use as a guideline for when children should stay at home.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily using a regular household detergent and water.

If a child at school is showing flu-like symptoms, they will go to the nurse’s office and our School Nurse, Susan Harris will contact you to come and bring your child home.

If at any point, you suspect that you, your child, or any other family member has been exposed to COVID-19, and/or is showing symptoms, please refrain from returning to campus. Reach out to your local health care provider and contact your Division Director to discuss next steps.

AFS Event & Trip Cancellations

Athletics:

Spring athletics games and practices are cancelled due to county and state mandates on public events. We will keep you informed of any changes. 

Senior Events:

Arbor Day – Friday, April 24

  • RESCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY, MAY 22

Prom – Saturday, April 25

  • RESCHEDULED FOR SATURDAY, JUNE 6

Post Prom – Saturday, April 25 

  • This event is canceled.

Candlelight – Tuesday, April 28

  • RESCHEDULED FOR MONDAY, JUNE 1 from 6-8 PM

Academic Recognition – Friday, May 1

  • RESCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY, JUNE 4 with Academic Recognition in the morning, followed by Alumni Induction

Baccalaureate – Sunday, June 7

  • This event is canceled.

Other Calendar Events:

AFS Scholarship Luncheon – April 6 

  • This event is canceled. 

Friends Collaborative Info Session – April 8

  • Will be held online or via individual conversation

US Assembly and Roo Round Table with Ellen Carney ’11 – April 10 

  • This event is canceled. 

NYC Rudin Alumni Dinner – April 16 

  • This event is canceled. 

Greenberg Lecture – April 20 

  • This event is canceled. 

STEAM Night – April 23

  • This event is canceled. 

Upper School Conference Day – MOVING ONLINE ON original date: Monday, April 27

Fifth Grade Poetry Night – MOVING ONLINE ON original date Wednesday, April 29 at 7 p.m.

Upper School Spring Concert – April 30

  • This event is RESCHEDULED for the end of the school year, details TBD. 

Lower and Middle School Spring Concerts and Performances 

  • RESCHEDULED for the end of the school year, details TBD.

ExTerm and Remaining Travel 

  • ExTerm is canceled, including the Hurricane Island Trip and trips to Spain, Guatemala, China and Olney Friends.
  • Upper School students will return to campus in May if school has reopened. 

Arts Showcase – May 1

  • RESCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY, MAY 28, in the evening. 

ECO Fest and Nature Play Date – May 2

  • A Lower School community event will be rescheduled if school is reopened, details TBD.

We are strongly suggesting that individuals and/or families not make trips outside the United States for spring break, and/or to areas with a CDC Level 2 or 3 travel advisory related to COVID-19. Before deciding to travel, please consult the CDC and State Department, and keep in mind the potential health risk and travel restrictions including entry and exit requirements for the U.S. Many countries have instituted restrictions and quarantines that may directly affect you.

The CDC is asking all travelers arriving in this country from countries with Level 3 travel advisories to self-quarantine for 14 days, even if asymptomatic. In an abundance of caution, we are asking that if any member of your family travels to a country with a CDC Level 2 or 3 travel advisory related to COVID-19, help us ensure our community health by doing the following until further notice:

  • Tell your division director about such travel plans as soon as possible before the trip.
  • All members of the traveler’s family should refrain from coming to campus for 14 days after the traveler’s return to this country, or 14 days after any flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, etc.) in the household have subsided, whichever date is later.

  • It is possible that additional precautions may be necessary for the health of our community, especially as students and their families return to campus after spring break, so please expect additional updates.

School Disruption & AFS Everywhere

After Spring Break, on March 30, we launch AFS Everywhere, our comprehensive educational program that will sustain vital connections for students, families, faculty and staff. The Abington Friends School campus is closed, but our community, our relationships and our learning life are very much open.

To ensure a vibrant ongoing learning experience for our students, our faculty and administrators have worked creatively, collaboratively and with clear purpose to create a distinct and engaging schedule for each division of the school.

Read a letter from Head of School Rich Nourie on the launch of AFS Everywhere and our school’s next steps.