Communications Archive

Good Afternoon Chatham Day School Families,

Many of you have likely already heard Governor Murphy’s announcement that all New Jersey school campuses will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

While we may not be able to return to campus, we still have a number of wonderful community events planned over the next five weeks. Please be on the lookout for an email later this week about these events (Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day, Capstone Day, Mr. C’s Olympics Day, Graduation, and more!) as well as answers to some logistical questions you may have—How will report cards be handled? What is happening with the yearbook? How can I get my child’s things that have been left on campus? What is the plan for summer camp? etc.

We will continue to approach remote learning personally and meaningfully, and we are looking forward to providing a student experience of depth and breadth for the next month.


David Buffum

Good Afternoon MS/US Families,

One of my son’s favorite things to do is to label people ‘silly’ or ‘serious’. Mr. Buffum is silly, especially when he’s singing about cheese. Daddy, he’s not sure about yet. He considers himself serious…I tend to disagree (mostly).

While our personalities may naturally fall toward one end of the silly/serious spectrum, both have their place in our world and are important influences at the pertinent times. In my Class Meetings with the students over the last three weeks, we went from learning about Hannibal’s traverse across the Alps (I shall either find a way or make one), to meditate while listening to ‘A Change is Gonna Come’, to playing a virtual game of paper/rock/scissors (congrats Jack!). To be honest, I had another serious message planned for yesterday when I looked across the room to see my son in the midst of silly mode. With that inspiration, I pivoted to silly mode…we had our fill of serious. It’s about balance, recognizing context and setting, and adjusting appropriately. I am so grateful for a CDS community that seeks to strike that balance, even during a challenging time like the one we face now.

Leaning toward the silly side: there is no school on Friday! I hope that our students take this opportunity to find some silly time. And, if they do, let me know about it! Send along pictures, videos, and anecdotes…we’ll find our ways to smile together (while apart).

Leaning toward the serious side: Alex and his family are collecting donations of snack items for Project Kind, a charity in Rockaway NJ. This organization helps feed the homeless and kids who depend on school lunches. Alex and his mom are currently collecting snack items to deliver to Project Kind.  If you would like to donate, please drop off items by May 6 at their home They are specifically looking for individual items to put into snack bags such as small bottled waters, chips, crackers, granola bars, etc. (nothing perishable, please).

I hope you all find balance in the spectrum of silly to serious. Be well.

Jason Mott
Middle & Upper School Division Head

Dear EC & LS Families,

I have seen so many inspiring learning moments taking place in your homes throughout the past month.  From science experiments to art projects, and STEM creations to cozy reading times, the collaboration between teachers, parents, and students has been nothing short of amazing.

But, as a parent, there is always that question lingering in the back of my mind – is it enough? Will my child fall behind? Am I teaching them the right things in the right ways? How will this effect them for the rest of their lives?

The truth is, we don’t know what the future will bring for our young children.  We can’t yet see how this experience will shape the rest of their lives, we only know that it certainly will. However, I can tell you that you are not alone. The most isolating thing most of us have ever experienced is also the most collective experience the world has ever shared. There are very few children in the entire world that will have physically attended school for the entire spring semester of 2020.

So if you are wondering, “Am I doing enough for my child?” The answer is absolutely, “YES.”  When we are able to return to campus, it will be more important than ever for your child to be truly known by his/her teachers. There will, of course, be plenty of review of learned concepts. And then, we will do as we always have—we will assess where each child is, in each subject area, and differentiate for what they need. I do not expect they will all have learned every piece of what they worked on at home, just as we know they do not all learn and retain every piece of what we teach in the classroom at the same rate (despite our best efforts). There will be areas where the entire class needs more focus on a concept, and then there will be areas where only one or two students need some extra support, and I can promise you that we will provide that. So if you need to skip math for a day because your child is in a mood – our teachers have done that too. Or if reading by the fire lasted for an entire hour today and you missed that Zoom meeting, we understand.  And if by chance you tossed the entire lesson plan out the window and decided to take a walk, or bake a cake, put together a puzzle, or make a memory in any way, then you are doing more than enough, because those are the things your child will remember long after we have returned to campus.

I hope to see you all tonight on Facebook Live as I read The Pet Book at 7 p.m. and then on Zoom at 8:30 p.m. for some trivia!



Mrs. Kellen Kent

Director of Admission and Financial Aid

Early Childhood and Lower School Division Head

Good Morning CDS Families,

I hope you all had an excellent three day weekend.  Again, Happy Easter and Happy Passover for those who observed!

Last Thursday was our 12th day of remote learning, and for so many of us, that meant our 12th day (or more) of juggling all that is involved in helping educate our children, while working a full-time job, while balancing all other aspects of family life.  I think we can all agree that, while exceptionally busy and at times overwhelming, the silver lining of each day is the time we hopefully get to be with loved ones—the milestones we see that we might have otherwise missed, the reminder of simple family joys, and the rediscovery of things we once knew so well.

And so, at the end of last week, our twelfth day of remote learning, my personal and professional community gave to me:

12 Zoom discussions

11 full hand washings

10 temper tantrums (combined total for family)

9 trips to just stare into the refrigerator

8 unmuted audios

7 helpful tech tips

6 classroom ‘pop-ins’

5 package wipe-downs

4 hundred emails

3 family dance parties

2 loads of laundry

1 sustained, powerful, supportive, and warm CDS Community!

As we move through day 13, which will turn into day 14, and eventually day 20 and beyond, please be sure to stay in touch with me and your division head with any questions. As always, I will have open office hours throughout the week and would love to see you and chat with you.

Starting TONIGHT, we will be doing a week-long community bedtime story. Each evening at 7 p.m., a different member of the CDS faculty and staff will read a bedtime story- live- to anyone who wants to see and hear it!  The first book will be read tonight at 7:00, and I am the reader!  I look forward to seeing some of the students then.

Additionally, this Friday evening, April 17, at 8:30 pm, CDS will be hosting a zoom ‘family’ trivia night, which will be most applicable to parents, but older students may find it enjoyable and may be helpful to your trivia team!  Mark it on your busy social calendar (sarcasm, at least for me.  I’ll have to put off watching yet another episode of The West Wing) and come join the fun.  You can even team up with other families if you want to text potential answers to each other throughout the game.

More information will be coming in just a few hours about both the nightly bedtime stories and the trivia evening.

I am off to pop in on some classes—always the highlight of my day whether on campus or not—and then am headed down to the family hand-off to work with my child on some math.

Have a terrific week ahead!


David Buffum

Good Evening CDS Families,

I hope this message finds you all safe and well and coming off of an enjoyable weekend.

It’s a favored pastime for my wife and I to visit college campuses, and we will often take the chance to take in a new one or two when traveling. There are a lot of beautiful campuses around NJ, but this weekend we hit the road for Princeton to take a little tour of the home of the Tigers. It was a brief respite from our living room, an interesting experience to take in some history through architecture, and inspired us to revisit Princeton when students are back. As we all know, a campus (even a stunningly beautiful one) isn’t complete without the students and educators who make up the community.

As we took the more scenic way home from Princeton, I was able to reflect on what makes up a school and I arrived at an appreciation that even though we aren’t driving up the hill off of Shunpike every day, we can come together, collaborate, learn, and grow as a school…remotely. I look forward to the day when we return to campus, and I look forward to seeing all of the students every day in their live online classrooms. As we sometimes say as CDS, it’s a ‘both/and’. One does not discount the other, and both count for a lot.

I presented to our students last week at Class Meeting about Remote Learning Expectations and Norms (the deck from that meeting is linked there) that will serve as our guiding community norms while we are teaching and learning remotely. These are based on feedback from parents, from educators and students who are learning in a similar manner as we are, and from my observations of classes over the course of the last couple of weeks. The general theme of these expectations is that we are very much in school, and the expectations that exist in an in-person classroom and school day exist remotely (texting during the school day, side conversations, etc.). The more micro digs into practices specific to Zoom, and what we can all do to engage in a fruitful online classroom experience.

The use of ‘Expectations and Norms’ rather than ‘Rules’ was intentional; we recognize that the adherence to these expectations falls on the students, but oversight for some of them falls to families. Labeling them as rules place an undue burden on that oversight and one that I am not comfortable placing. Administrators and teachers are doing everything we can through our software (Hapara, etc.) and through Zoom best practices to place a scaffold around a student’s school day and steer them in a positive direction. Beyond that, we ask that students be respectful of each other to differentiate between work time and social time.

We all appreciate your partnership in these challenging times. Thank you all so much and have a lovely evening.

Jason Mott
Middle & Upper School Division Head

Dear Families,

This message contains no important school information. No dates, or times, or announcements. There will be other messages coming out in the following days about a zoom family event we are planning, about the results of our online survey sent out last week, and about more of the creative work our teachers are doing with your children during this period of remote learning. However, this message is simply a message of good feeling and well-wishes for all of us to find normalcy in our own fashion.

I am sure we are all buoyed by the good news that New York and New Jersey *seem* to be approaching a flattening of the curve (yet another phrase that four weeks ago had little relevance). There has been a great amount of pain for citizens of our state and all around the world, and my heart goes out specifically to CDS families who have been directly impacted by this virus, some of whom have lost friends and relatives. I am very sorry for your losses and have no other words except to say that the community of the school remains, and remains for you to lean on if need be.

I have just returned from a brief walk outside. The air this evening is cool and crisp, the streets are empty, and Venus is shining brightly in the western sky. I even looked for the the Pleiades (the Seven Sisters) which my father pointed out to me over 40 years ago, and which tend to fall close to Venus in April, but I was unable to locate the grouping through the artificial light.  My father became a bit of an astronomy buff when he was stationed in Alaska in the Army in the mid-1960s.  There was very little man-made light for hundreds of miles in any direction, and so—by his telling—the night sky was often filled with a greater percentage of stars than of dark space. I imagine that often, and imagine him finding some peace and consistency at a time of great unease, and as friends of his were being deployed to fight in a war. The stars did not shine as naturally this evening, but the walk, the air, the sky, the sense of peace on the street—it felt calming and invigorating all at once. It felt ’normal’. This is tremendously subjective, of course, but for me it meant that I felt happy and hopeful. It felt good, and I felt good. I came back inside to my five year old, who excitedly yelled out, ‘Mommy, Daddy is back!’ And my wife certainly already knew this, but our child’s pure, innocent love of telling, and explaining, and pointing things out, broadened my smile even further. Experiencing the excitement and discovery of a child is a powerful elixir, and it is a dose that we receive every day when we see your children.

The civic and personal health measures that we are all taking represent significant changes to our previous lifestyles. For most all of us, our daily lives have changed drastically. And while each week, even each day or hour, has its ups and downs, we are starting to do something that humans have done for thousands of years. We are starting to adapt. Not perfectly, and not without moments that feel like we are losing all control (note: my child was awake at 9:30, and had more cupcakes this evening than any 40 pound person ever should). But we are finding new joys, and new meaning, and love and humanity is prevailing. More family time. Renewed hobbies. Taking pleasure in different things, more simple things. It’s not perfect.  And it’s not over. But when I think of the air, the stars, and of your children, our children, I can’t help thinking of all of the things that are normal, are genuine, are meaningful, and I am grateful for those things, for you, and for our school. I hope to get to Alaska some day and see the breathtaking things my father has described, but tonight was a slice of beauty in its own right; one that I did not expect, but one that nevertheless had an impact on me. I plan to call him tomorrow to tell him. He may be pining for a dose of normalcy now too.

Thank you for being a part of our community, and for adapting so well to our new way of educating your children. I wish for all of us the peace of our own versions of normalcy, even just a slice, or a star, and even evolved versions that we would have never predicted. This too will pass, and until then, we will do our best to adapt and to lean on each other along the way. We are in it together.

With appreciation to you, appreciation for the night air and the night sky, and a reminder of how much I and all of our faculty love working with your children.

Most Sincerely,
David Buffum

As directed in Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 104 and affirmed in Executive Order No. 107, all public, private, and parochial preschool program premises, and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, shall remain closed to students as long as the executive orders remain in effect.

The Governor noted in his daily press briefing yesterday, that the decision to reopen schools lies squarely with his office. He does not intend to assess the reopening of schools until at least April 17, 2020, at the earliest. As Governor Murphy stated, “the decision to reopen will be based on careful discussion with our public health and safety experts, and with our educators and districts, and will be guided by the facts on the ground.” Therefore, we ask that school administrators refrain from speculating or announcing school reopening dates unless directed to do so by the Governor.

CDS will continue to deliver instruction via Virtual Learning until we are able to resume live instruction on campus, or the end of the school year, whichever comes first.

Dear EC & LS Families,

Congratulations, you made it through the first week of remote learning! I hope that there were joys and successes within the hard work you are doing at home.

Thank you for the feedback you have offered to me and to our teachers. We will be making one big change in communications based on what we have heard from many of you. Moving forward, you will receive an email from your child’s teacher on either Sunday night or Monday morning that will include a comprehensive schedule for the week with all live Zoom meetings, including ID numbers. This email will also include all co-curricular lesson plans for the week. Our hope is that this helps to streamline your inbox by condensing all co-curricular class assignments and all Zoom scheduling into one email. You will then continue to receive daily emails from your child’s lead classroom teacher about the lesson plan for the day.

I continue to welcome your feedback as we evolve on our remote learning plan.


Dear Families,

Here we go! By now you have heard from the Division Heads and the teachers a number of times, and all that is left is to get started. The video link below says it all about how we are feeling about returning to learning. I am proud of the team here at CDS, and am excited to reengage with your children when school begins tomorrow.

In order of appearance: Dr. Mott, Mrs. Kent, Mr. Murad (!), Mrs. Eccles, Mrs. Clark, Mr. Lariviere, Mrs. Morris, Mrs. Miller, Ms. Racine, Ms. Atchison, Mrs. McLean, Ms. Lark, Mr. L, Ms. Cat, Mrs. Weed, Mrs. Schlitt, Mrs. Jablonski, Ms. Van Dunk, Mrs. Babington, Ms. Macko, Ms. Albrecht, Mr. Berezny, Mrs. Moebius—and with apologies to the teachers I couldn’t fit in! Enjoy, and see you tomorrow.

David Buffum

March 20, 2020: Letter to Middle & Upper School | Virtual Learning Plan

Dear Middle and Upper School Parents,

I already miss the hustle and bustle of a CDS 2nd floor, so I’ll be honest when I say that I am begrudgingly sending details now about our remote learning plan. CDS is special because it is a place where students feel they have a second home, a sense of security, a place where they can grow and thrive, and a place where caring educators are going to be engaged with a nurturing presence. Even remotely, CDS is still that place. We do and will miss sitting across a desk from your kids. However, we are and will work our tails off to continue giving them the best possible learning experience as we navigate the coming weeks.

I held Zoom meetings with all of the teachers earlier today, and it’s hard to accurately put into words how nice it was to see all of them, and how determined they are to make the best out of this challenging situation. At one point, my son paused from playing trucks in the room behind me to come sit on my lap during one of the meetings and exclaimed, “Look, it’s all of my Chatham Day School friends!”

Our Remote Learning Plan:

Schedules for all MS and US students are attached below. Anything you see in white on those schedules is a scheduled live class with a teacher through the Zoom platform (description below); anything you see in gray is independent work time and/or time to check-in with teachers as needed. The final blocks in the afternoons are virtual ‘office hours’. To put it in terms familiar to our students, these are virtual EOL times. If a student has a question or needs some support, they can reach out to a teacher via email, Schoology, or request a live Zoom session. There is nothing you need to do at this moment as far as setup for live instruction; I will send out more specific details on Tuesday about how to join those sessions that will begin on Wednesday. However, we do ask that students test their device to make sure it can run the Chrome browser and that you have your passwords to log in to your CDS account. If the device is not compatible with running Chrome and does not have a dedicated keyboard (students will be writing), we will offer an additional pick-up time on Tuesday from 5-7pm. Please let me know by Monday, 3/23 at 12:00 p.m. if you will need to pick up a Chromebook on Tuesday.


Zoom is a video conferencing platform that incorporates some unique features that will help us facilitate rich and engaging live learning sessions. From screencasting, to whiteboard, to text chat and other collaborative tools, we selected this platform both for its ease of use and for its features. It can be downloaded as a dedicated app on a PC or Mac, as an app on a phone, or as a Chrome extension. If a student is logged into a CDS account on Chrome, we have already pushed out that extension so that it is available. With all that said, there is nothing you need to do with this now; we will send more details about setup on Tuesday.

Materials Pick Up:

-Upper School: For US students who were present on the last day before spring break (or had them sent home with a friend) and who have an appropriate device, no new materials will be necessary for pick up.

-Middle School: We will be sending home additional textbooks, so we ask that all 4th and 5th grade families stop by CDS between 5-7pm on Tuesday to pick up those materials. Additionally, please be on the lookout this weekend for an email from Mrs. Montgomery regarding book choices for literature circles.

If you are reporting to CDS to pick up materials, we ask that you drive up to the circle during this time, and I will be there to put them in your car. Please do not get out of the car and I promise to keep a safe distance from you. If for any reason you are unable to pick up your materials during that time, please let me know and we can plan an alternate distribution method.

Assignments and Teacher Communication:

Teachers will be in communication with students through email and Schoology to disseminate and collect assignments. We ask that all students make it a habit to check their email prior to reporting to their Zoom Advisory each morning, and continue to check for those messages during independent time. Teachers will use the live voice and text options within Zoom to communicate either whole group or privately with students during live sessions.

Tech Support:

Please contact Mrs. Babington directly for any concerns regarding technology-related issues at I want to publicly thank her here for her diligent work and partnership over recent weeks to help us get ready for next week.


We will come together as a full MS/US community on Wednesday morning as I host a live Zoom session at 8:30am. It will be brief (~5 minutes), but it will be a time for us to greet each other, set some community norms, and kick off our remote learning experience. Students and parents are invited, and there will be more details about joining that session to come on Tuesday.

We understand that this is a tremendously unique situation that will inherently place strain on parents as you work with your student in person as we work with them remotely. We very much appreciate your partnership and flexibility through this process, and profess the return from our end. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself, Mrs. Babington, teachers, and/or advisors as we all embark on this journey together.


4th Grade
5th Grade
6th Grade (A)
6th Grade (B)
7th Grade
8th Grade
Thank you so much. Be well.

All my best,

Jason T. Mott, Ed.D.

Middle and Upper School Division Head
Chatham Day School

March 20, 2020: Letter to Early Childhood & Lower School | Virtual Learning Plan

Dear Early Childhood & Lower School Parents,

I have been thinking of each of you and your children over the past two weeks since we were last together. It is hard to fully grasp how much has changed in our world over such a short period of time. Certainly, this was not the spring break many of us anticipated or imagined.

During these uncertain times, it is useful to have as much clarity surrounding the things we can control. I would like to detail for you how remote learning will look for our students in Preschool Playhouse through Grade 3 during the next few weeks. As a faculty, we have discussed our intentions, goals, and expectations while attempting to remain true to who we are as a school. A large part of what makes our school so special lies within the relationships between educators and students. We will miss seeing each child walk through our doors in the morning, hearing them laughing on the playground and singing in our classrooms, and celebrating their achievements in person. However, during this experience of distance, our goal is to remain close in written and virtual contact.

The nature of young children is one that requires adult supervision, guidance, and encouragement. In planning for remote learning we realize that we will be asking a lot of you, the present adults in your child’s life right now. But you are not alone! Every part of our plan is designed to lend you a hand from afar and make the process as straightforward as possible. Your child’s teacher will remain in close contact with you during this time and we ask that you provide honest feedback to them as we navigate this uncharted territory. Please remember that teachers are pivoting now as well and this is a learning experience for us as much as it is for you. Our Early Childhood & Lower School teachers will have ‘Office Hours’ from 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. This means you can schedule a phone call or Zoom meeting with them during these hours or have emails responded to quickly during this time period to help in any way.

Please also remember to be gentle to yourself. The learning process for young children is a gradual and slow climb. Repetition and consistency are key. If you need to throw the schedule out the window and do things a bit differently for your child, we grant you full permission to do what is right for your family.

Our Remote Learning Plan

—We have been busy creating additional learning packets (PS-Grade 3) for each child including additional enrichment workbooks in both math and language arts (PreK-Grade 3). These will be ready for distribution this Tuesday, March 24. If you are able, please plan to pick up these packets from CDS on Tuesday between 3:00-5:00 p.m. We ask that you drive up to the circle during this time, and I will be there to put them in your car. Please do not get out of the car and I promise to keep a safe distance from you. If for any reason you are unable to pick up your packet during that time, please let me know and we can plan an alternate distribution method.

—Your child’s teacher will email you prior to Tuesday with a general schedule for your child. Again, this is a guideline to help make your days easier and more consistent.

—We will begin remote learning on Wednesday, March 25. Your child will be using the packet that was provided before we left for break during the first Wednesday-Friday of remote learning.

—Your child’s teacher will email you daily with the exact plans for that day including projects, worksheets, and activities to complete. These emails may include pre-recorded videos of your teacher or a specific time to check-in for a Zoom class meeting. Zoom is the online platform we have chosen to meet virtually. You can use Zoom on any device (phone, iPad, laptop, or desktop). It is free for you to use, and your child’s teacher will email you with directions, a link, time, and meeting code. It is incredibly user friendly! We know children of this age group should not be sitting in front of a computer watching a teacher lecture. Therefore, these Zoom meetings may include sing-alongs, group snack/social time, teacher read alouds, book clubs, and more. They are not mandatory, but we hope they provide some comfort for your child to see his/her teacher and classmates.

—If you are in need of technology assistance, please reach out to our Director of Technology, Heather Babington, at

—You can also expect your child’s teacher to email you individually during each week to provide support and enrichment activities which will help to differentiate the learning plans for each child. They will also be seeking feedback from you to learn how things are working and to make any needed adjustments. This too is a hallmark of CDS which we hope to retain during the remote learning process, but we can only do this with your feedback!

—We will not be taking daily attendance, but we ask that you email the teacher if your child is not feeling well and will not be able to participate in any of the assignments on a given day.

—Finally, the teacher may ask you to occasionally ‘submit’ an assignment by emailing them a picture of the completed work. Again, we are not looking to add yet more work to your plate. However, this will help the teacher to view student progress and adjust plans accordingly for your child.

I sincerely thank you for your partnership as we embark upon remote learning together. Your help and partnership does not go unnoticed and is much appreciated. Please have your child view the video below –our first remote learning Morning Meeting! Take good care, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Hello from Mrs. Kent! (video)



Mrs. Kellen Kent
Director of Admission and Financial Aid
Early Childhood and Lower School Division Head

March 19, 2020: Letter to the Community | Important Message

CDS Families,

Please be on the lookout tomorrow for e-mails from both Mrs. Kent and Dr. Mott. They will outline our remote learning plan and talk through expectations and limitations.

I set out to create a video to send to you to discuss my thoughts ‘in person.’ The message to our families is that while virtual learning is not ideal, it is our reality, and we plan to do amazing work for your children. It won’t be perfect, as nothing will be in these rapidly evolving and unprecedented times, but it will be ‘all CDS’, and we are looking forward to engaging with your children after the break.

Please find below two relevant videos. The first is for the parents and is a more ‘warm,’ annotated version of the longer address I was preparing to make. The second is for you AND for your children, as it is a singing of the school song, and I encourage all kids to watch and sing along with us. Normalcy is crucial, and singing the school song is just the dose of normal that could be needed in a break and in 2020 that has been anything but. Please note that in this second video I mention that school will resume on Tuesday. This was misspoken, as we are taking both Monday and Tuesday as planning days and will begin again on Wednesday.

The two video links below will be important and fun.

Please be on the lookout for e-mails from the Division Heads tomorrow with many specifics.


David Buffum

Please watch the videos below:

Video for Parents
Video for Students

March 13, 2020: Letter to the Community | School Closure

Dear Chatham Day School Families,

Please be advised that at the conclusion of spring break, we will be moving to our remote learning plan, and our campus will be closed. We will keep this plan in place until Monday, April 13, at the earliest. In consultation with a number of local schools, we settled on this date as the ‘most perfect’ as of right now. Until then, all on-campus activities and events have been canceled.

This decision did not come quickly, nor was it made without an abundance of consideration and discussion. We are very aware that closing the campus and moving to remote learning will be challenging for families. However, as we face the reality of an expected spread of local, national and global infections, we have been told by medical experts that ‘social distancing’ is the very best way to slow the rate of this spread. I believe it is our educational duty to protect the health of our students, faculty, and staff, and that it is our civic duty to help protect the well-being of our relatives, neighbors, and communities. Along with a large number of NJAIS schools and schools around the nation, we feel that the benefits of moving to a remote learning plan significantly outweigh the drawbacks.

While our campus will be closed following spring break, our school will very much be in session. By the end of next week, you will be receiving detailed information from the Division Heads about specific remote learning plans, and our teachers will be in communication with each individual student every school day throughout this period of time.  Additionally, I and others will be in touch about the many ripple effects of this decision and of the ambiguity of the weeks and months ahead (Enrichment, CDS Presents, Graduation, Grandparents’ Day and more).

This is not the spring break (or 2020) that any of us envisioned, but I am comforted by the closeness and warmth of our community. I appreciate your support of CDS, and of each other.  I will miss seeing your children every day, and I look forward to returning to a semblance of normalcy as soon as we can.

I wish you all the best, and we will be back in touch next week.

David Buffum
Head of School

Dear Families,

As a follow-up to my letter dated February 5, 2020, I want to communicate to you Chatham Day School’s responses to developments regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are continuously monitoring international and national advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, and we are maintaining close contact with our state and local authorities. As always, the health of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority, and we are committed to keeping you informed with current and accurate information, particularly with the approach of spring break.

It is important to note that there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey or any surrounding state. However, while none of us can be exactly certain how the events of the next days, weeks and months will unfold, and no one wants to think about the idea of the coronavirus spreading in our area, we want to assure you that we are actively meeting and working to be able to respond expeditiously and thoroughly if the need arises.

Based on the recommendation of the CDC, we are beginning to prepare for the possibility that an outbreak may necessitate a school closure for a period of time. We have begun and will continue internal discussions about what remote instruction could and should look like if this were to be the case. While we are moving into full planning mode at the school, we must acknowledge that this is an actively changing situation, and we will share more information on these plans over the coming weeks.

As spring break approaches, we are aware that some–even many– of our families will be traveling in the United States and internationally. It is extremely important that all of our community members follow any travel restrictions implemented by the CDC or State Department.

As this is an evolving and fluid situation, other countries may be added to those currently included in travel advisories, so we ask that you refer to the CDC website for the most up to date information on travel alerts. We also ask that each of you self-report your trip and destination so that we can monitor and provide any guidance available. If you have travel to any place domestically or internationally which has been subjected to the coronavirus, we will ask that you do not return to school until the risk is eliminated. This list may change in the next days and weeks, so we will need to be responsive to those evolutions as well. Please talk to your Division Head or Sue Lark this week about any planned travel. As always, we require families to be vigilant in response to symptoms of illness. The recommendations from the sources and organizations with whom we are in touch are uniform in terms of urging people to consult a physician if any flu-like symptoms occur. Even if a child’s cold or fever symptoms are unrelated to the flu or COVID-19, that child should remain home and should not come to school until all symptoms are completely resolved.

Officials highly recommend the following precautions:

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose, mouth, face
  • Disinfecting surfaces and objects you frequently touch (cell phones, laptops, keyboards, etc.)
  • Avoiding contact with sick people
  • Covering cough and sneezes
  • Keeping your children home if they are ill
  • Avoid handshakes with others

Internally, we are increasing our supply of hand sanitizers, wipes, and sprays especially in high traffic areas, bathrooms and the cafeteria. We are also looking into adding to the frequency of the building’s cleaning. When visitors arrive at the School, we are asking them to take the above health precautions.

Please consult the following links for important and frequently changing information:

I will continue to keep you updated on all these issues. Thank you for your commitment to keeping our community safe.

David Buffum

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Governor has closed schools for the rest of the 2019–2020 school year. We will return to campus when the state and the medical community have deemed it appropriate and safe.

The majority of our Administration’s summer work will be focused on thoroughly and comprehensively planning a safe and effective reopening in September. At present, there are reopening task forces being formed by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS). The guidelines and recommendations produced by these groups, as well as guidance and mandates from the CDC and the local and state governments, will help guide the work of our own internal task force. The CDS Reopening Task Force is made up of members of the administrative team, the school nurse, and a number of Board members, many of whom are medical doctors. We will be discussing and planning for all strands and contingencies that will need to be anticipated for a smooth and successful 2020–21 school year. We will be flexible and patient as guidelines and best-practice recommendations emerge. We will be in touch often throughout July and August as these evolve. Again, our goal is a safe and effective opening with clear protocols and, as usual, a thorough and personalized delivery of a CDS education.

No. Our campus is closed and we ask that families do not come to the school at this time.

Virtual and home-learning instruction is being delivered in a variety of ways—Zoom classroom meetings, hard-copy learning materials packets, and educational ideas from teachers to pursue at home.

No. Instruction will be delivered on-pace through virtual learning.

As always, your child’s teacher and Division Head are the first resource if your child faces learning difficulties. Teachers will make themselves available to speak with students and and/or parents directly, as well as providing one-on-one support by Zoom, email or phone calls. In addition to your child’s teacher, other members of the faculty and staff are available to provide support and community touch points for your child.  Please reach out to your child’s teacher and the appropriate Division Head with any questions. As is with the case of on campus learning support, the plan will vary case by case depending on each child’s specific needs.

All students in Grades 5–8 will continue to earn letter grades for their school work. Teachers in all grade levels will ensure that meaningful learning is taking place and continue to use a range of approaches to assess student learning and determine student grades.

All in-person spring events are canceled, however, many events like Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day and Mr. C’s Olympics Day will be held virtually. We have also added several family trivia nights, etc.

Please email Heather Babington, Director of Technology, at if your student has questions or problems with the learning technology.

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Resources for Families

BrainPOP Jr. – Helps kids to create, construct, and collaborate as they explore their world
Busy Toddler – Simple, hands-on learning for home
Cosmic Kids Yoga – Yoga, mindfulness and relaxation for kids
GoNoodle – Movement and mindfulness
PBS Kids Games – Online games from your child’s favorite PBS shows
Raz-Kids – Online guided reading program with interactive ebooks, downloadable books, and reading quizzes
Super Simple Songs – Songs to sing together
Vooks – Storybooks brought to life

BrainPOP Jr. – Helps kids to create, construct, and collaborate as they explore their world
EPIC Books – digital library for instant access to 40,000 of the best books, learning videos, quizzes, and more
Handwriting and Keyboarding Without Tears – digital teaching platform for teaching handwriting and keyboarding
Headsprout – a research-proven kids’ reading program that takes students on a digital journey to become better readers
IXL – Helping students master essential math skills at their own pace
Cosmic Kids Yoga – Yoga, mindfulness and relaxation for kids
GoNoodle – Movement and mindfulness
Raz-Kids – Online guided reading program with interactive ebooks, downloadable books, and reading quizzes
Reflex Math – Individualized online game-based math fact fluency practice

Audible – Selection of free audio books for kids and teens
IXL – Helping students master essential math skills at their own pace
Newsela – Authentic content from the world’s most trusted providers
Raz-Kids – Online guided reading program with interactive ebooks, downloadable books, and reading quizzes
Reflex Math – Individualized online game-based math fact fluency practice
Teen Book Cloud – Free ebooks that can be viewed without a Kindle
Wide Open School – Various resources across the curriculum