In-person learning for Friends Academy this fall

Jul 30, 2020

Friends Academy students are set to return to school full time on Sept. 8 — but their days will look very different, according to academy officials. 

Following an initial plan sent to parents last week, students and staff will be required to wear a face covering indoors and each child must come to school with their own school supplies in a labeled container or bag, among other new protocols.

“The world is changing and we’re going to adapt with it,” Head of School Benjamin Kennedy said.

In order to mitigate risk and decrease the chance of contact, Kennedy said the school will treat each grade as a static “pod” of students with 3-5 teachers assigned to them. 

Pods will be kept physically separate from one another inside as well as outdoors and students within each pod will interact socially within their grade level.

Another way Friends plans to create a socially distanced learning environment is through the use of its outdoor spaces.

The school’s garden will continue to provide learning and service opportunities while yielding fresh produce to donate to the community. 

Students will also get to use the ropes course, explore the vernal pool, go birdwatching, learn by the edge of the river, and hike on the trails, all within their grade-level pods.

Additionally, Friends will build three covered outdoor spaces that Kennedy said would be large enough to hold a class and provide protection from the sun, rain, snow, and cold.

“We’re in New England where weather can be a bit unpredictable,” he added. “Anything we can do to support teachers and students being outside is worth it.”

For parents who are not comfortable with their child returning for in-person learning, Kennedy said the school is working on a plan to offer a combination of synchronous live classes on Google Meet and asynchronous assignments.

“This is certainly something we definitely want to flesh out more,” he added.

As for transportation, the morning bus from Cape Cod and Marion will operate under enhanced safety measures, including mask wearing and physical distancing.

Carpools are also permitted, but must be registered with the school’s office for planning and tracing purposes. 

If a child is sick, parents must notify the school nurse of symptoms and determine if they are well enough to come to school. They can return to school once they have been symptom-free for 48 hours.

Of course, plans are subject to change depending on any updates to state guidelines.

“The idea we will have a fully-solved problem when we reopen is unlikely,” Kennedy said. “Of course, there’s much more work to be done.”

For the full plan, visit