Keeping Our Community Safe Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

United Friends School has made every effort to consider the advice and guidance of Pennsylvania’s leading health organizations. Our school’s administrative team has worked tirelessly with members of the faculty, board, staff, and parent community in considering how to best open for a safe return.

Our response to COVID-19 has been met with pace and purpose. While we focus on welcoming our students back to campus, the health and safety of United Friends School’s community will always be the first consideration in our decision-making process. You can read more about our guiding principles and policies and procedures in opening our campus in the United Friends School 2020-2021 Health and Safety Plan.

In our effort to plan for a safe and thoughtful return, we have compiled some common questions we have received regarding our response to this Coronavirus pandemic. Please understand that what may seem good practice now may have to change as we advance our school year. This page will be frequently updated.

Health & Safety

How will UFS monitor the health and safety of its faculty, staff and students?

All students, faculty, and staff will complete a daily questionnaire for monitoring symptoms of illness through RUVNA.  Parents and staff will receive a daily text message with a link to fill out the questionnaire. We must emphasize the importance of staying home when sick.

If my student is not feeling well and will remain home, how can we make sure they don’t fall behind in their academics?

We are pleased to be able to offer students the flexibility of logging into their classroom from home when they aren’t feeling well for extended periods of time. This means that your child won’t miss important work and will still feel connected to their classroom community from the comforts of home.

What procedures are in place if students feel sick during the school day?

If your child becomes sick with one of the three key COVID-19 symptoms (fever, difficulty breathing, cough) during the school day, they will be isolated in a designated room until a parent arrives. If a child is sent home from school with one of the key COVID-19 symptoms, families in that particular pod will be notified. The ill child must adhere to UFS’s Exclusion From and Return to School policy.

What is the procedure if a student, faculty or staff member tests positive for Covid-19?

We expect that there will be changes to our plans and procedures along the way, as conditions continue to evolve in our area and new guidance is given by the CDC, state and local health departments. Parents will be informed of any changes to our plan in a timely manner. In the event of a COVID-19 positive case within our community, the health department will be notified and inform guidance given to families on quarantine procedures. As of now, all contact tracing will be performed by the Bucks County Health Department.

How will you practice good hygiene routines with students throughout the school day?

Students and adults will establish hand washing routines starting on the first day of school. Students will wash their hands upon arrival each day; before and after eating; before and after outdoor recess; before and after exiting the classroom.

How can we ensure that all members of the community are following the same good hygiene procedures?

Please understand that as a community we are responsible for the common good and to collectively safeguard the health and safety of others. We expect all staff and families to adhere to our social contract in the 14 days prior to returning to campus.

All faculty, staff, and parents will be trained in our new health & safety procedures at the start of the school year and will continue throughout the academic year.

Teachers will facilitate and reinforce proper handwashing routines while at school. Children are adaptable and capable of learning these new processes. With much practice at home and at school, we are confident that they will become the experts in your family.

Are masks required?

Masks are mandatory at all times for all adults as well as children in Preschool through 8th grade. Please refer to the Pennsylvania state policy on face coverings Masks may be removed only when appropriate distancing of 6 feet is possible. Mask breaks will be built into the school day and will be scheduled by the individual classroom teachers. Children may also remove their masks to eat snacks and lunch, and also during outdoor PE classes. 6 ft. of distance will be adhered to at all times.

While we understand concerns that some young children may not want to wear a cloth or surgical-style mask, our policy is that all students must wear a mask at all times, except during designated mask breaks. If families would like to have their child wear a shield in addition to their mask as extra protection, that works as well.

Cloth masks must be washed after each school day. Children should always carry at least TWO fresh/clean masks with them to school each day in their backpack. On the first day of school, children should also bring in 2 extra masks, labeled, in a Ziploc baggie that their teacher will store in the classroom.

How will you enforce social distancing while on campus?

We have gotten creative with our classroom layouts and our classroom assignments. Our indoor instructional spaces have been reconfigured to ensure proper spacing of at least six feet between students who will be seated at desks and/or tables. The use of clear dividers will further protect students while seated and doing work at their desks.

Cleaning & Disinfection

How is UFS cleaning and disinfecting spaces on campus?

UFS’s maintenance crew has been busy getting the buildings ready for our students, faculty, and staff to return. All classrooms, toys, manipulatives, materials, and common areas have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Once we resume in-person operations, enhanced cleaning and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces will happen frequently throughout the day within our classrooms. High traffic areas will also be cleaned and disinfected during the day. Each evening, all classrooms and common areas will be treated with an electrostatic cleaning machine.

Will outdoor play equipment be cleaned and sanitized?

Now more than ever, spending time outdoors is so important and will be a vital part of the student’s everyday experience at school. All of our PE classes will be held outdoors. Big play equipment will be disinfected in between each recess period.

How is air filtered in school?

Work is ongoing with our HVAC company and maintenance crew to determine optimal filters and replacement schedules. Windows & doors will remain open to improve airflow.

Co-curricular and extracurricular activities

Will students continue to participate in specials? What changes have been implemented?

  • Physical Education classes will be held outdoors. Social distancing of 6ft will be maintained. Equipment will not be shared.
  • Music, Library, Spanish, and Art teachers will travel to individual classrooms.
  • Art class materials and kits will be issued to individual students.
  • Music class wind instruments and choral music will not be part of the music program at this time.

How will students participate in school sponsored field trips?

Until further notice, UFS students will not participate in any field trips that would require transportation. Walking trips to outdoor spots will be encouraged to keep our students in the fresh air as much as possible.

Will UFS continue to provide the after-school program for those that need it?

UFS will continue to provide an after-school program for those families that have signed up at the beginning of the school year. We will not be able to maintain the “pods” that will be in existence during the school day. Students who attend the after-school program will not be segregated from each other. Those who attend this program will be spending as much time as possible outdoors.

What is happening with extracurricular activities such as sports?

Our fall soccer program has been canceled. As we get closer to the start of the winter sports season, UFS will make a determination about the need to cancel the basketball program.

Visitation, Food and Student Supplies

Will parents be allowed to enter the building to visit students or talk with their teacher?

Visitors will have limited access to campus and must make arrangements with our Front Office Manager. The campus will be restricted to students, faculty, staff, and only essential visitors such as delivery persons and contracted service people. Parents will not be routinely allowed into buildings. Health screenings, masks, and social distancing will be required.  In-person family gatherings will be postponed indefinitely.

Where will students eat lunch and snacks?

Lunch, snacks, and filled water bottles should be sent to school. Children will eat in their classrooms or outdoors. Students will not be able to reheat any food or refrigerate any lunches at school.

While at school, will students be required to share supplies?

In addition to sending in supplies requested by individual teachers, families will be expected to send in a closed tub for their child’s personal belongings, (e.g. backpacks, coats, water bottles and lunch boxes) to be stored during the school day. This year, the teachers will likely request additional supplies to ensure that each student has what they need at their desks. Students will not share supplies or classroom materials.

Our Social Contract

The following are community expectations in anticipation of reopening and must continue throughout in-person learning.

  • Use and reinforce mask-wearing, physical distancing, handwashing, and meticulous hygiene outside of school.
  • Limit exposure by avoiding large gatherings or situations in which people are not observing recommended behaviors, such as wearing masks and practicing physical distancing.
  • As much as possible, avoid air travel or travel to areas that are currently experiencing high rates of infection. Refer to page 4 of the Exclusion From and Return to School policy to determine the need for quarantine if any travel out of state is necessary.
  • Observe routine medical practices, e.g., routine annual checkups, immunizations, and flu vaccines.
  • Stay home when you are sick or keep your children home when they or any member of your household are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Conscientiously conduct & participate in the daily health screen using the Ruvna questionnaire, sent via text message to the cell phone on file. More details are forthcoming.
  • Partner with faculty & staff to help children learn the new Health and Safety protocols.
  • Limit the personal items your child brings onto campus each day and reinforce policies around not sharing food, supplies, and other items with other students.
  • Notify UFS regarding sick household members or if any household members have had close contact (less than 6 ft for more than 15 min) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Depending on the situation, your student may have to stay home for 14 days.
  • Notify the school and undergo testing if you suspect your child or a household member has COVID-19 and await test results from home.
  • Be kind, attentive, and helpful to anyone around who may be in need of support in following safety health practices. Provide respectful and gentle safety reminders and suggestions to those who may need them, and respond graciously when others provide them.