Brooklyn Friends Sets Precedent for Safe School Reopenings

child at Brooklyn Friends School
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Friends School

By Robert Pozarycki and Carsen Holaday

Like other educators across the world, Crissy Cáceres, head of school at the historic Brooklyn Friends School, faced a daunting challenge last spring of charting out a plan to reopen school in September amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It all boiled down to one question: How could the school provide the best educational experience possible to their students while keeping them safe — and connected to their peers and teachers?

“We are a highly relational, close-knit, intimate school body, and so for me, it was really important that we considered social distancing. It’s physical distancing, but our social connectivity needed to remain in tact,” Cáceres said.

To help develop that plan (which evolved into three “reopening roadmaps” phased in through the school year), Cáceres conducted a massive amount of research — including participating in more than 100 webinars, conversing with fellow educators across the world and talking with legal analysts.

In order to adjust to strict CDC guidelines, the school had to redesign their approach four separate times during the 14-week period. With lots of preparation and determination throughout its reopening, Brooklyn Friends kept its COVID-19 positivity rate under 1% for the entirety of the Fall 2020 semester.

Additionally, more than 90% of the student body has participated in in-person instruction since September.

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