Our Response to Coronavirus

Connecting and Creating Normalcy in these Difficult Times

 It feels like, in only a few days, the world has lost its familiar patterns and entered a time of uncertainty and change.  Added to this, at exactly the moment when we most need support from friends, loved ones, and community, we are being told to stop traveling and stop gathering. Human connection and a feeling of control and predictability are important for adults, and they are doubly so for young children.  And they are triply so when the world loses its routines.

Chicago Friends School’s teachers, right now, are working very hard to create and establish community touchpoints for kids, to create routines, and give kids a feeling of normalcy as we all navigate these difficult times.  The best thing we can give kids right now is a connection to their community and a sense that things are in control.  If every kid is not perfect at pluralization rules at the end of this year, there is time to make that up.  The important thing is that they know their friends, their teachers, and their community is still here and vibrant.

For parents, as well, the community is important.  Thanks to those who are helping each other behind the scenes, sharing resources and tips. I encourage you to have a virtual happy hour with some other adults after your kids are asleep.  I applaud you for sharing resources with each other and with the teachers. Do not hesitate to reach out to Karen, to a teacher, or most importantly, to each other as we navigate this crisis together. Many of you are making unknown and unknowable sacrifices for their kids, their community, and their city right now.  It is hard, but we will get through this together.

Virtual Lunch Bunch Tables

This Friday and subsequent Fridays, we invite students who want to connect with peers beyond their homerooms to virtual lunch.

Teachers will make a signup sheet for six virtual “lunch tables” and share them with their classes.  Kids can see who is sitting at what table, and sign up to have lunch together.  Once a table is full, teachers will set up a google hangout for each table, and the students can chat with each other virtually as they eat lunch.

Ready for Spring Break?  

Here are a Few Ideas for Fun at Home For some family activities, Meghan suggest:

Write a Letter-Write a letter to a grandparent or friend that you aren’t able to see right now.  Put it in the mail (no email).

Homemade Slime –Slime Ingredients:

  • 8-ounce bottle Elmer’s white school glue
  • 1 1/2 – 2 Tablespoons contact saline solution, more as needed
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda
  • Food coloring, optional

Add glue and food coloring to bowl. Squeeze the bottle of glue into a bowl. Add your food coloring if desired, and stir until combined. Then mix in baking soda.

Mix in saline solution. Add 1 1/2 Tablespoons saline solution and mix until combined. If it’s too sticky, add 1/2 Tablespoon more solution at a time. The more you add, the thicker it’ll be. The less you add, the slimier it’ll be.

Knead the slime. Using your hands, knead the slime until it holds together. It will be wet and gooey at first, but just keep kneading until it all comes together.

Store slime. Store slime in a container with lid, or in a zip-lock bag. The slime is best to play with on a placemat.

Cook Something Together-Grilled cheese, homemade pizza, cookies, etc. Have fun!

Adrian has put together a few suggestions for online fun at home:


Abcya Games (grades K-6)

Adrian’s old link collection (sorted by grade range)

Arcademics games (grades 1-6)

Chicago City of Learning (all grades)

Common Sense Media Recommended Podcasts (grades vary)

Crash Course (grades 6+)

Message from the Head of School: Before, Now and What Comes Next?

I am writing this note from my sunroom, which for now is also my office.  Chicago Friends School, like all Illinois schools, is closed for in-person learning until at least May.  Like many of you, I’m sheltering in place, developing skills with 


In this unprecedented period of a global pandemic, I find myself thinking about the year 2020 in three neat chunks: before the pandemic; now; and what will happen next.  The “before” period seems remote and halcyon: students frosting cookies together for a Valentine’s afternoon treat; teams of kids working side by side to assemble portraits for black history month; our fourth-grade class teaching us about the Hindu holiday Holi, middle school students getting together with hundreds of their peers from other schools for a leadership summit. The “Now” period feels both eternal and constantly new – students and teachers learning how to connect and learn virtually; a school learning to make community and support each others in new ways.

And the “Next” period is both hopeful and frightening: We look forward to being together again, celebrating Chicago Friends School’s first-ever 8th-grade graduates, “virtual spirit week” and our first-ever summer camp. At the same time, we worry about the health of our loved ones and most vulnerable neighbors and are uncertain about long-term financial effects on our school and our greater society.

This provides a glimpse of our School community and activities from all three of these phases. I hope you will notice, as I did, how strongly our school’s community and our commitment to service echoes through all three of these periods. Within our community, our city and neighborhood, Chicago Friends School students and families are still leading purposeful lives of service, creativity and connection.

I hope everyone is doing well and staying hopeful. We’ll come through this, and we’ll do it together.

– Karen Carney, Head of School 


4-21-2020 It is official,in person school will not resume. 

Dear Chicago Friends School Community:

All in-person classes and activities will remain on hiatus through June 10, 2020, which is the end of the school year for us. 

You may have heard that this afternoon Governor Pritzker ordered all Illinois schools to remain closed for in-person learning for the rest of the school year.  In compliance with this order, Chicago Friends School will continue with its distance learning program for the remainder of the school year, ending our year, as planned, on June 10.
This is not the school year that any of us anticipated when we began school in September, and I’m sure that you, like I, am mourning our time together, our normal routines, and all of the end-of-year celebrations and traditions we were anticipating.  The teachers and I are working on making sure that we maintain community, learning, and provide some special events in the days to come.
Some of these in the works are:
  • An all-school virtual poetry slam to finish national poetry month.
  • All-school virtual service day in lieu of our in-person one.
  • Team-led virtual field trips, and
  • Student government-led virtual spirit week.
I will also be talking to our two 8th graders about rescheduling graduation to later in the summer.  At graduation, I hope that the whole community can come together to see each other, celebrate, and connect.
For parents, I encourage all of you to keep connecting to each other and supporting each other through this period.  The parent group continues to meet on Saturdays and next Saturday the April 29th, I have arranged for an expert in family resiliency & emotional health to speak with the group.  I’ll send an announcement for that out separately.
Finally, I hope that you, like me, extend a vote of thanks to our teachers, who are working very hard to help your students to continue to connect and learn during this time.  I couldn’t work with a better team.

*Eighth Grade Graduation-July 2020 

Planning for Fun, Community, and Learning as we Embark on a School Year Like no Other.
As we start a new school year in a pandemic, Chicago Friends School is committed to providing as safe an environment for our students and teachers as we can. To that end, we have put into place safety measures and protocols to keep everyone safe.
Each pod has a different entrance.

First, we are reducing the opportunities for contact and   transmission:

  • Student pods: Students attend class in groups of 15 or less and stay with those teachers all day.
  • Separate entrance and dedicated areas within the school: Each pod has two classroom spaces over which they can spread and their own entrance/exit, so they never have to walk through another pod’s physical space.
  • Fewer adults have contact with the pods: We have cut back on the number of special subject teachers coming into and out of each pod. Parents pick up and drop off students outside of the school rather than entering the school with their students.
  • Lunch out: To minimize the amount of time that students have with masks off in school, we are offering parents the option to take their child(ren) out for lunch and return them to school during or after recess.

Second, we are taking steps to ensure that a healthy population is present in school.

  • Daily Covid-19 symptom check-in: Before arriving at school, parents fill out our daily COVID check-in tracker.
  • Temperature check at the door: All students have their temperature taken prior to being allowed into the building.
  •  Strict quarantine and testing requirements: Any student showing any symptoms must stay out of school or provide a negative test, per Illinois Department of Health guidelines.
Mask students at their desks.
  • Mandatory masking: Everyone in the building is expected to wear masks except when eating or drinking.
Third, we are minimizing opportunities for transmission in the school environment.
  • More frequent cleaning: We have doubled our contracted cleaning times with our janitorial service providers, plus daily we wipe down high-touch surfaces.
  • Fewer shared surfaces: Each student has their own desk area for eating and seat work. They also have their own soft seating (beanbag or other) that they use for story-time or independent reading or discussion.
  • Fewer shared supplies: Each student brings their own classroom supplies, so we do not all touch the same objects.
  • Ventilation and air filtration: We keep windows open as weather permits. We have a HEPA/UV air filter in each pod.
First Week of School
Student with mask

This week, the Chicago Friends School staff has been planning for an unprecedented school year, with very serious health precautions

But in doing so, we have not forgotten the heart of our school, which is community and connection, with each other and with our community, as we learn and grow.  The teachers and I have planned some ways for kids to start the school year by making connections with each other through games, cross classroom digital connections, and collaborations.  We are also planning to have ways for students to decorate their workspaces and give themselves some control over their spaces in a classroom that won’t look or feel like they did last year.

The teaching staff at Chicago Friends School never forgets that you have entrusted us with the care of your students, and we thank you for that trust.  We hope that the activities we have planned will bring them joy and fellowship as well as learning and growth.

Thirteenth week of school
Students virtual during January.

During November’s  Board meeting they determine to close the school during a six-week period because we realized that our families would travel and visit families during this busy holiday season.  In lieu of not wanting to spread COVID throughout our school community. We would go virtual from early December until mid-January 2021.

Twentieth week of school
Covid Precautions in Place for the Return to In-Person school
Our Middle Schoolers watching history being made, as Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President

We are all very excited about the return to safe in-person split day schooling on Tuesday. As we all prepare to return to in-person school, remember that all of our Covid-19 precautions are in place.

Highlights include:

  • Mandatory masking at all times.
  • Daily Covid-19 tracker check-ins.
  • Quarantine after travel out of state.
  • Staying home with any Covid-19 symptoms for 10 days or until a negative test and alternate diagnosis.
  • We will have windows open for at least part of each day, so please send warm clothing with your child.



The Thirty-Eighth Week-Final Week of School
Start of our 5K race
We begin our final week of school with our Inaugural Spring Girls on the Run and Boys on the Run 5K.
Last Day Field Day and Picnic
Wednesday, June 16 is our last day of school. We will be holding our traditional field day and also invite families to stay after dismissal for a picnic lunch in the park at their own discretion.
Any family who wishes to can stay for an informal picnic lunch in Senn Park. Because we are still experiencing a pandemic, the picnic lunch is BYOP (bring your own picnic) rather than a potluck. Because school is dismissed at noon that day, this picnic is a way to enjoy the afternoon rather than an official school activity. Should your family choose to stay, parents are invited to help their children distance or blend pods according to their own comfort level.








In-person school in 2021-2022, and waiting on additional CDC and IDPH guidance.