Oct. 8, 2020
Dear Parents,
Happy October, and congratulations on completing the first month of school!  We are delighted with the start of the most unusual year in Haverford’s long history. After a summer filled with preparations for learning in a time of COVID-19, we opened on schedule with room for every boy who wished to attend school in person to learn on campus. About 95% of our families did choose to send their boys to school in person, and some of those who hesitated have now made the decision to join us on campus. We’re still working hard to provide the best education we can to those boys who are learning remotely, but it is a daily joy to see the boys’ faces—and to see how happy they are to be with each other.
We continue to work closely with the Montgomery County Health Department to ensure that we are following best practices to avoid contagion and to respond when there is a case of suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Haverford School policy is to inform those families possibly affected by any confirmed or suspected cases on campus, in accordance with Montgomery County Health Department recommendations, and NOT to broadcast any possible cases to the entire Haverford School community.
We are pleased that community spread remains so low—Montgomery County’s test positivity rates were just 2.3% last week, the lowest they’ve been in months, and they continued to decline this week—but remain concerned about the possibility that the positive trend will reverse as the changing weather drives us indoors. As a result, we are pleading with every family to make good choices about travel plans, to remain home if they possibly can, and to follow best practices for wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing if they must travel. If you travel to a location listed as of concern by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, we echo the State’s request that you quarantine for fourteen days, and that your son not attend school in person during that time.
Although current evidence seems to indicate that in-school transmission happens very seldom, particularly when students are required to wear masks on campus, it remains the case that our ability to continue in-person schooling depends on the choices each of our families make. It is literally true that one family’s decision to travel could cause us to have to close a grade, a division, or the entire campus. Please follow the guidelines listed on our reopening webpage.
In keeping with the priority we are placing on academics at Haverford, I would like to recognize the extraordinary work our teachers are doing. While they are professionals at teaching in person, and are getting better at teaching remotely, doing both at once is enormously difficult—and most of them have to do that difficult task most of the time. Please be patient with them as they juggle all of the tasks we ask them to do, and thank them when you get the chance. I’ve been privileged to see soldiers exhibit courage and duty under difficult conditions before, and I’m seeing the same traits displayed every day here on campus.
Every day the boys are able to learn in person is a gift. Please continue to use the Magnus app every morning. Magnus updated its application earlier this week, adding a facial recognition feature that has put additional strain on its system despite increasing server capacity by 25%. That has slowed the app considerably, particularly between the hours of 7:15 and 8:15 a.m. They are working around the clock to solve this problem, and we appreciate your patience as we work with Magnus to improve our first line of defense. We ask that you keep your son home if there are any indications that he isn’t fully healthy, and keep wearing your masks! We hope to continue seeing the boys on campus every day for many months to come—and our collective decisions will determine how long we’re able to keep doing so.
Thanks, as always, for sending your son to Haverford.  Go Fords!
John A. Nagl, D.Phil.
Ninth Head of School
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