Head of School Communications

Parent and Guardian Opening of School Information Sessions


August 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

This Wednesday evening, August 12th from 7-8:00PM and the following Wednesday, August 19th from 7-8:00PM we are hosting two virtual welcome and information sessions for you.  We ask that each household have one parent and/or guardian attend one of the two sessions. 

We have been working on our 2020 opening of school plans since last spring. Our plan is guided by our mission, prioritizing the health and safety of our students and staff, and providing our students with the educational experience our families expect from Westfield Friends School. All of our decisions are informed by the most up-to-date information and advice from public health and medical professionals. Our return to school plan is available on the school website. The Westfield Friends School Handbook for Parents, Guardians, and Students 2020-2021, contains more detailed information on how we will partner with you to provide as safe a school as possible. For us to be successful, you must read the Handbook. The Handbook is available on the school website on the Forms Central page. To insure that we are all operating with the same information, you must complete this short online form indicating that you have read the Handbook. 

To make sure that everyone's questions are answered during the information session, please send your questions to Nicole Cesaretti at ncesaretti@westfieldfriends.org before noon on 8/12 or before noon 8/19.  We will not take questions during the two sessions. 

The link below my signature will work for both meetings. (see your email)

Please help your children grow accustomed to wearing their masks. We also ask that you work with your children to develop the habit of thorough hand washing and/or using hand sanitizer when they come into your home or or other buildings. Here are a couple of videos to help you and your children become mask wearing experts and hand washing experts.

Have a great week.


Margaret Haviland

Dear Friends,

This letter addresses two topics: 

  • When Westfield will open for the 2020-2021 school year
  • The technologies we will use to support all potential modes of learning: In-person/on campus, hybrid learning, and distance learning. 

School Opening

As long as New Jersey remains reopened, we will open school as follows: 

  • Monday August 17 Preschool 2 & 3, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten  
  • Monday August 24th First through Fourth grades
  • Monday August 31st Fifth through Eighth grades. 

This staggered start will enable us to establish routines with our youngest students and slowly ramp up to our complete student body. If you have vacation plans that conflict with your child’s school start, please let us know.

To help you prepare for school this year we ask the following:

  • Please help your child learn to wear a face mask. We anticipate times when even young children will need to wear a mask
  • Please help your child establish the habit of washing their hands correctly and when they enter your home or another building
  • Please review the entire school calendar
  • Please return all health forms and other school forms by August 10
  • Please anticipate emails with updates over the next six weeks.
  • Please help your children with their summer reading assignments, which are posted on the school website. Children in grades 5-8 also have math practice. Molly Cope will be in touch with the math information.

Technologies We Will Use at Westfield
image6.jpg Our school website will have calendars, announcements, and news.
image12.png Seesaw will be used by our youngest students and for music and other applications in all grades. 
image1.png FACTS will be our main source for student and family information and student grade and report cards.
image7.png Google Classroom will be the main learning management tool for grades 1-8. Schedules, assignments, messages to students, class discussions will be here.
image11.jpg Google Meet will be our main virtual meeting space. Google Meet will replace ZOOM as our video conferencing tool.

  image9.png   image3.jpg      image2.png
We have adopted a number of online subscription services:  Membean and Scholastic Word for vocabulary. IXL to  complement our Math in Focus, Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 Math Programs. Scholastic Literacy Pro will expand the books available to us in our in school reading program and be available to students at home. 

Thank you for your continued partnership.  


Margaret Haviland

Physical Campus

June 18, 2020

Dear Friends,

Since my last letter schools can now begin in-person summer remediation and supplementary instruction adhering to the state’s guidelines for camps. Our Return to School Task Force has been developing our plan for how to use our physical campus for safe in-person learning in the 2020-2021 school year.  We are focusing on strategies that support student learning, emphasize good hygiene, limit access to our buildings, minimize movement within the buildings, minimize close cross-grade student contact, and take advantage of our campus to have students outside as often as possible. 

  • Visitors will not be in our buildings.

  • Faculty and staff will fill out a daily health survey and take their temperature before coming to school in the morning.

  • Parents and guardians will fill out a daily health survey for their children. As students arrive, they will be screened in their cars for fever. We will offer our hybrid learning model to students who need to be at home.

  • Students will wash their hands or use hand sanitizer at the start of each day and frequently throughout the day.

  • Staff will regularly sanitize all of our indoor spaces. We will minimize the need for shared materials. All staff are trained on best hygiene and sanitizing practices.

  • Students who become ill at school will wait for their parents or guardians to take them home in a dedicated room with an attached bathroom.

  • Pairs of classes -- Preschool 2 & 3, Pre-k & Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades, 3rd and 4th grades, 5th and 6th grades, 7th and 8th grades -- will have their own, assigned doors into the building, classrooms, bathrooms, and spaces for outdoor activities.

  • Children will learn in their homerooms. Teachers will come to them or meet them outdoors.

  • Students will bring their own lunches to school and eat in their classrooms or outdoors.

  • Students in grades 2-8 will sit six feet apart from each other and may be able to remove their masks. When moving in the building or away from their seats, they will wear masks. During outside time with their classmates, masks may be optional.

  • Younger children in their large homerooms will not always wear masks (masks are not recommended for children two and younger) or remain six feet from their peers. Teachers will model and teach them safe social distancing in a nurturing environment. 

  • Larger groups of students or cross-grade activities such as Meeting For Worship, Looking at Art, Monday Gathering, Middle School student government will be modified to accommodate social distancing, may move outdoors, or will happen through video-conferencing.

  • Weather permitting, we will open our windows to increase fresh airflow in our classrooms and buildings. We have updated our HVAC systems to provide for healthy air quality when the windows are closed.
  • We will begin our days outside and go outside frequently for academic instruction and recreation.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me.


Margaret Haviland

June 5, 2020

Dear Friends,

Yesterday on NPR, I listened to Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes for Health describe the speed at which scientists are working to develop a vaccine. The hope is to have a successful vaccine ready by early 2021. However, even with fast-tracking of production, the best case would be 100 million doses by the second quarter of 2021. These doses will have to be rationed and according to Dr. Collins, go to the people at greatest risk of the virus: health care providers, people living in long term care facilities, and others in high-risk categories. We must as educators plan for delivering the best possible, mission-based education and assume no vaccine for most of the members of our community until late in the school year.  

Westfield’s Return to School Task Force is planning on three modes for learning: in-person learning, distance learning, and hybrid learning. We know everyone wants to get back to in-person learning. We know that we need to plan for distance learning. We know that individual children may have to quarantine at home for periods of time. We know that some families are comfortable sending their children to school in the near future. We intend to be ready for each of these situations. Westfield’s mission will shape these program decisions.

Westfield’s Return to School Task Force will take what we learned this spring to build a schedule that: 

  • Allows students to move seamlessly from in-person to distance learning

  • Allows for greater differentiation in student learning

  • Provides opportunities for deep exploration of topics

  • Reduces student transitions within the day

  • Supports students who are learning from home

  • Advances academics and students’ social-emotional, physical, and spiritual growth

 In-Person Learning:

  • Schools, including Westfield, are allowed to open for in-school instruction as determined by state and local officials

  • In all likelihood, the drop-off and pick up times will remain the same 8:10-8:25 AM for regular drop off, 3:00 PM for pickup

  • Modifications, adaptations, and improvements to programs will balance the needs for social distancing, best practices in 21st-century education, and building our students’ relationships with each other

  • Westfield aspires to provide each student in grades 1-8 with a Chromebook. These tools will support student learning; they will never replace or supplant the in-person, student to student, and student to teacher relationships that are the core of the Westfield experience

  • After school care and other after school enrichment activities may be offered

Distance Learning:

  • In-person learning is not allowed at schools, including Westfield, as determined by state and local officials

  • Westfield’s distance learning model blends daily synchronous live instruction and asynchronous available anytime learning

  • Our program will continue students’ learning, provide for their social, emotional, and spiritual well being, and strengthen our community ties

  • Students should easily transition from in-person to distance learning with little change in schedule

  • Students will have the technology tools they need and training to use them well

Hybrid Learning:

  • In-person learning is allowed at schools, including Westfield, as determined by state and local officials

  • Families decide that their child should not attend school in person. Every situation is different and should be discussed with Margaret Haviland, Head of School

  • The school or medical experts decide when a student needs to stay home for a period of time because of their exposure to COVID-19 or the exposure of another person in their household

  • Westfield will provide these student(s) with real-time, virtual access to their classroom and most of the activities of their classmates. We are still looking at the best technologies to implement this plan. With input from our teachers, we will make final decisions on technology by mid-June

In my next letter, I will share with you our plans for social distancing within the school and increased uses of outdoor spaces as well as plans for monitoring student health and cleaning and sanitizing spaces.

Please do reach out to me with your ideas, suggestions, and concerns.



Looking Ahead to 2020-2021

May 27, 2020 

Dear Friends,

This letter is the first in a series of letters discussing our plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Our Return to School Task Force is working diligently on preparing for the upcoming school year and the various learning scenarios we may be facing. No one could have anticipated the COVID-19 pandemic at this time last year. We now know we need to plan for varying degrees of impact by the COVID-19 virus.  

In all of our work, we are guided by our mission, advancing our students’ education, and providing for the safety of our students and staff. The strategies we are developing are grounded in a return to the school that allows for flexibility and prioritizes the health and safety of our community. We have learned a great deal from our experiences this spring. We will be guided by recommendations from the CDC, local and state health authorities, and the National Associate of Independent Schools. Recently, the CDC released updated guidelines for schools and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia also released research-based guidelines. Our task force members have been attending webinars on any number of topics related to school opening for in-person, distance, and hybrid learning. We are fortunate that our memberships in NJAIS, PAISBOA, FCE, and ADVIS provide us with comprehensive resources and high-level expertise in every imaginable aspect of operating schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When we open our school for 2020-2021, we will be living in our next COVID-19 normal which calls for planning, flexibility, and training. This letter focuses on proposed changes to our school calendar for next year. Subsequent letters will discuss:

  • plans for in-person, distance, and hybrid modes of learning

  • plans for social distancing within the school and increased uses of outdoor spaces

  • plans for monitoring student health and cleaning and sanitizing spaces

  • plans for new technology tools and enhancements to our program based on what we learned this past spring

  • plans for how we will go through all parts of our day from arrival, to our beloved community events, to recess, lunch, and all of our amazing art, music, and PE programs. 

We believe a more expansive calendar is a necessity. While COVID-19 informs this decision, we are also informed by current thinking on how children learn and the best ways to sustain that over time. Our school year could start as soon as August 17, 2020, and continue through June 18, 2021.  Like many universities and public and independent schools, we are strongly considering starting early and extending later into June 2021 to assure as many in-person school days as possible given the prediction of a second wave of the COVID-19 later in the year. I recognize that this news comes with little notice and I am not proposing this change in schedule lightly.  For families that have travel plans, please know we will work with you and your children to accommodate their academic needs.  

An earlier start date also allows us to maximize opportunities to open windows and conduct outdoor learning as research indicates that being outdoors and utilizing indoor spaces with high degrees of fresh air ventilation reduces the viral load. We would be remiss if we were not attempting to have as many school days as possible before it is too cold to take advantage of open windows and outdoor classrooms. As you review the calendar, you will also see a concerted effort to provide regular three and four day weekends between the long vacations. We believe this will give us time to clean and air our buildings. These will also help everyone have regular breaks for rest and rejuvenation which are important to keeping our immune systems strong. We are planning for more learning days for everyone. 

With the possible early start date, we are considering staggering the start depending on grade. Right now, assuming early childhood programs and preschools are allowed to open,  we may begin Preschool 2 & 3,  Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten August 17; First through Fourth grades August 24th; and Fifth through Eighth either on the 24th or August 31st. This staggered start will enable us to establish routines with our youngest students and slowly ramp up to our complete student body. 

Attached is the proposed calendar for the upcoming year. This calendar will be finalized and implemented as soon as the state government gives schools the green light to open. I have also attached a document illustrating the Task Force process.

I am so proud of how the entire Westfield community has responded to this crisis and the countless additional hours invested by our teachers and staff.  We can’t wait to return our students to our classrooms in the 2020-2021 school year.  

Thank you for your continued partnership.