In preparing these safety protocols, Friends Seminary has been guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools, the July 29, 2021 Memorandum from New York State Education Department (NYSED) Commissioner Betty A. Rosa, and the August 5, 2021 Statement from New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, which recommends following the CDC’s and local health department guidelines. We will continue to update these Safety Protocols as new guidance becomes available regarding city, state and federal public health requirements for schools.
Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, evolving variants, and the current ineligibility of certain age groups in our community to receive the vaccination, we have adopted a layered approach of mitigation strategies to keep our community safe. As conditions evolve, we may loosen or tighten our approach as necessary. The major elements of our safety approach include (1) universal masking, (2) required vaccination for all those who are eligible, (3) optimized ventilation, and (4) hand and surface hygiene.
Our first priority is to the health and safety of our community, and the safety protocols outlined below reflect careful and considered planning to ensure our continued safe operation. In addition to guidance from the agencies listed above, we have relied on advice from our valued consultants and our own experience operating during the 2020-2021school year. Our continued safe operation is dependent upon all members of our School community complying with these safety protocols in good faith.
TO IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION
Friends has prepared these Safety Protocols based on our own conviction—as well as the guidance from the NYCDOH, CDC and AAP—that in-person instruction is vital for students and should be preserved to the extent possible and safe. Therefore, Friends is committed to providing an in-person teaching and learning environment unless it becomes contrary to the guidance of public health officials or is determined by the School that it is no longer safe to do so.
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WHEN WE TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES, WE ARE TAKING CARE OF EACH OTHER.
Friends Seminary is committed to the physical, mental and emotional health of our entire community. We must balance these needs carefully to continue to deliver a quality, in-person Friends education and safely meet the needs of each of our students. COVID-19 poses a significant public health threat, and our school is in no way immune to its dangers. Every member of the community is required to comply with the protocols listed within this plan. When we take care of ourselves, we are taking care of each other. Those in violation of the policies outlined above or those who refuse to comply with requests to take an action to protect the campus will be asked to leave immediately and will only be allowed to return to campus if permission is granted by the Head of School.
THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR COMMUNITY TO RISE TO AN EXTRAORDINARY LEVEL OF CARE.
Finally, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is a virus that we are all susceptible to; it does not discriminate. Statistically, it is likely, even with protocols in place, that some members of our community will contract the virus. They should not be blamed or shamed. Nor should anyone coming from the region of the virus’s or variant’s origin, countries with a high concentration of the virus, or states considered “hot spots” be discriminated against. This is an opportunity for our community to rise to an extraordinary level of care, support and safety. We owe this to each other.