Campus Access

In accordance with updated guidance from the CDC and local and state departments of health, Friends Seminary is once again welcoming visitors on campus, including parents. Up-to-date vaccination status will be required and verified upon entry. As we continue to monitor the COVID situation in the city and our community, adjustments to our visitor policy will be considered.

  • Offices will notify individuals if a meeting is in person or virtual.

  • Parents will be allowed on campus for School-sponsored events as determined by the School. 

  • Parents will need to follow the safety precautions determined for each event. The School reserves the right to modify or cancel such access as dictated by health and safety requirements at the time of the event.

  • Back to School Nights and Parent Conferences will be held on Zoom.

Arrivals & Dismissals

In the 2021-2022 school year, all students will arrive and depart at the entrances listed below. Parents and Caregivers will drop off and pick up outside the campus doors. Arrivals and dismissals will be staggered at several designated entrances to support physical distancing and to help keep sidewalks clear. We thank everyone for the continued support as we navigate this new normal.

ARRIVALS

Arrival Guidelines

  • Please be sure to maintain physical distance and wear approved face coverings—students and parents/caregivers—that completely cover the nose and mouth. 

  • Please support good relations with our neighbors by keeping a path clear on the sidewalk for those who may be walking by the school. 

Arrival Schedule

7:45-8:15 AM: Early Bird and Yellow Bus Arrivals for Lower School Students

Students should be dropped off at the Hunter Hall (222 E. 16th St.) entrance and head directly to the Common Room. School buses will drop off at the same entrance in the morning, and riders will join Early Bird students in the Common Room.

 

8-8:20 AM: Middle and Upper School

Grades 5 & 6: First period begins at 8:20 AM

Enter through Hunter Hall (222 E. 16th St.) or Annex, depending on first period class.

 

Grades 7 & 8: First period begins at 8:15 AM

Enter through Hunter Hall (222 E. 16th St.) or Annex, depending on first period class.

 

Grades 9-12: First period begins at 8:15 AM

Enter through Townhouse (218 E. 16th St.) or Annex, depending on first period class.

 

8:15-8:25 AM: Lower School (K-4)—classes begin at 8:25 AM

Students in Grades 2-4 enter through the Townhouse (218 E. 16th St.), and Kindergarten and Grade 1 students enter through Hunter Hall (222 E. 16th St.)

DISMISSALS

Dismissal Guidelines

  • Parents and caregivers picking up a child are asked to arrive at the scheduled dismissal time and wait outdoors for their child's class to be dismissed.

  • While waiting, please maintain physical distance and wear approved face coverings that completely cover the nose and mouth. 

  • In order to keep the flow of dismissal moving, please listen closely to instructions and move away from the School once you have connected with your child(ren).  

  • For families who have a caregiver picking up their child, please provide them with the necessary information to help them navigate the process. This includes the full name of the student, grade and class, teacher name, and dismissal time.

  • Help us be good neighbors by keeping the sidewalk as clear as possible.

  • Rutherford Place between 15th and 16th Streets will be closed to traffic every day for dismissal.

 

Dismissal Schedule

3:05-3:10 PM | Lower School 

Parents and/or Caregivers (Grades 1-4) should pick up their child(ren) at the gate of the Outer Courtyard (between 15th and 16th Streets on Rutherford Place) where teachers will match students to their adult.​ Please pick up Kindergarten students from their designated exit.

 

3:10 PM | Middle and Upper School

Middle School, Grades 5-8

Depart from the Hunter Hall (222 E. 16th St.) or Annex, depending on their last period class.

Upper School, Grades 9-12 

Depart through Townhouse (218 E. 16th St.) or Annex, depending on their last period class.

 

Yellow Buses pick up by 3:30 PM on 15th St.

Wellness Screenings

All students and employees must perform a daily wellness screening for COVID-19 symptoms before arriving at school.

 

We ask that if you have even the hint of any of the symptoms listed below, DO NOT come to school. 

Additionally, please send an email to Tyler Troppmann, School Nurse at ttroppmann@friendsseminary.org and the appropriate divisional attendance email (LSAttendance@friendsseminary.org, MSAttendance@friendsseminary.org, or USAttendance@friendsseminary.org).

 

  • Students, faculty and administrative staff should not enter the building if they have any of the following symptoms:

    • Fever/chills; temperature greater than or equal to 100.4

    • Any of the following that are not related to seasonal allergies or a preexisting condition:

      • Cough

      • Shortness of breath

      • Loss or change of taste or smell

      • Runny nose or sinus congestions

      • Muscle pain

      • Headache

      • Sore throat

      • Fatigue

      • Gastrointestinal symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

​Students with observable symptoms at school will be referred to the nurse for assessment which may include testing (see "Point of Care Testing" below). The nurse and Division Head will determine and recommend if a student needs to be sent home.

Vaccinations

All students and employees who are eligible are required to have completed a COVID-19 vaccination cycle to attend school in-person. 

  • An individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their last dose of the vaccine.

  • All employees and students ages 5 and up are eligible to receive a vaccine as of October 2021.

  • As of March 28, 2022 all students and employees are required to be up-to-date with CDC recommended vaccinations in order to attend school. Individuals must provide proof of vaccination through the Friends Seminary Magnus medical information portal.

  • In addition to the COVID-19 vaccine, students are required to be current on all vaccinations required by the NY State Department of Health and to have vaccination records on file with the School Nurse via Magnus. 

  • The School strongly recommends that all students and employees receive a seasonal flu vaccine.

  • The COVID-19 vaccines have exceedingly few medical contraindications. To request an application for a medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, please email School Nurse Tyler Troppmann at ttroppmann@friendsseminary.org.

Face Coverings: Mask Optional

On Tuesday, March 8 Friends Seminary became a mask-optional campus, Students and employees have the ability to choose whether or not to wear a mask based on their own comfort level or, in the case of students, guidance from their parents or guardians.

 

Throughout this pandemic, we have listened closely to the CDC and state and local departments of health. While we have in some cases opted to implement more conservative strategies than those agencies recommended, we have always relied on careful consideration of the same science and data when reaching our own decisions. This decision is no different. Among the reasons for recommending this change, the Friends Forward Committee highlights the following:

  1. We are a fully-vaccinated community. 

  2. In addition, and largely because of the high vaccination rates and the effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing serious illness, the CDC has shifted from its reliance on positive test rates to consideration of several factors when assessing the risk level in a given area. You can read more about this and search any county in the country here.

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​The School maintains a supply of approved masks that are available to all students, faculty and administrative staff who would like to continue to wear a mask.

 

If COVID-19 cases rise, the School may choose to implement targeted masking requirements to help prevent in-school transmission. We also recognize that not all divisions can be assessed the same way. In Lower School we look at individual homerooms since they spend their days together; in Middle School we consider whole grade levels where groups mix throughout the day, and in Upper School—due to the amount of mixing throughout the day among all grade levels—we must consider the whole division. With all of this considered, we have set thresholds for a return to required masking by division:

 

  • Lower School: when three (3) or more individuals in the classroom are confirmed positive, masks will be required indoors for ten days for all students in and teachers of that classroom (final duration to be determined by Nurse Tyler and communicated to parents and teachers by the LS Office).

  • Middle School: when six (6) or more individuals in the grade level are confirmed positive, masks will be required indoors for all students and teachers in that grade level for ten days (final duration to be determined by Nurse Tyler and communicated to parents and teachers by MS Office).

  • Upper School: when nine (9) or more individuals in the division are confirmed positive, masks will be required indoors for all Upper School students and teachers for ten days (final duration to be determined by Nurse Tyler and communicated to all parents, students and teachers by the US Office).

 

Should circumstances call for a return to a community-wide mask mandate, the School will communicate this change with the community.

Testing Protocols

Testing for COVID-19 will continue to be a major prong of our overall strategy for community health. We will closely monitor the ongoing testing needs and will make modifications to our overall testing program as guided by the CDC and our own medical consultants.. We have learned that flexibility is key for the safety of our community, and are prepared to increase or relax the intensity of our approach throughout the school year in response to local COVID conditions. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and compliance.

 

We currently have three overall testing strategies.

 

TESTING TO RETURN (TTR)

Testing community members upon return helps us ensure that when we come together after a break that we are able to begin with a ‘clean slate’. Because breaks often involve travel and/or gatherings with others outside our households and our community, TTR helps us reduce new introductions of the virus to our community. 

  • Students or employees who have been away from campus for one week or more for non-COVID purposes will need to complete Testing to Return prior to returning. TTR protocols involve:

    • Taking two Rapid Antigen tests with 24-48 hours between the tests. The second test should be within the 24 hours prior to returning to school.

    • At-home testing kits are acceptable.

    • Both tests should be negative in order to return to campus.

    • If either test is positive, notify nurse Tyler and your child’s divisional office,  and do not come to school.

  • When the whole community returns following a school break, the School may ask families to affirm TTR results, especially if case rates are high. 

 

SURVEILLANCE TESTING

Surveillance testing allows us to monitor the ongoing presence of COVID-19 in our community and to assess trends that can guide our broader set of mitigation strategies. Surveillance testing happens in a repeated pattern over time and is conducted on a percentage of the student and employee populations. The frequency of testing and percentage of the community that is tested will depend on the severity of current risk. We will provide updates on any changes to our surveillance testing in the weekly COVID bulletin in FWD. 

  • We are currently testing 100% of our students and employees each week using rapid antigen tests to be administered at home by each student and employee on Tuesday night and Thursday night OR Wednesday morning and Friday morning prior to arriving on campus.

 

POINT OF CARE TESTING

The school maintains a supply of on-campus tests that are used as needed to assess symptomatic individuals, monitor individuals who were in close contact with a positive case, or to assist with end-of-isolation return to school. 

  • Rapid Antigen testing will generally be used for Point of Concern testing.

  • Rapid tests may be conducted on campus or with an at-home kit issued by the nursing staff. The nature of the testing needs and the judgment of the nurse will determine how testing is performed.


Physical Distancing

Friends is committed to a safe campus while providing in-person instruction. Students, faculty and administrative staff will be distanced to the extent possible while indoors without compromising the quality of programming.  

  • Signage has been installed in hallways to indicate direction of traffic and encourage social distancing when students are not in their classrooms. 

  • Hallways and stairwells are to be used for movements and passthrough only and not for congregating.


Cleaning & Hygiene

Friends has retained cleaning services from a hospital-grade service provider, Healthcare Services Group, Inc. (HCSG). HCSG has staff on site throughout the school day and after hours ensuring that the utmost standards of cleanliness are maintained consistently.

  • Hand hygiene stations have been installed in classrooms and common areas, including handwashing with soap, running warm water and disposable paper towels, as well as alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing is not feasible. 

  • Each classroom is provided with a dispenser containing gloves, masks, 99% alcohol spray and disinfecting wipes to be used throughout the day. 

    • Faculty and students are encouraged to wipe down surfaces including desks and keyboards in their classrooms every two hours. 

    • In case of class changes, it is encouraged that faculty and students wipe down their desks before and after each class.

    • When sharing of desks and materials is necessary, appropriate hygiene practices will be required (e.g. hand and surface sanitizing).

Ventilation

In 2020, Friends upgraded its HVAC and Fresh Air systems to increase fresh air and to limit cross-contamination where one HVAC unit services multiple rooms. Our actions and policies have been guided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), a society of HVAC engineers that researches and develops national standards for energy, ventilation and occupant comfort that are used in building codes all across America and in many foreign countries. They also have a task force that is actively researching recommendations for schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The ventilation and cooling system will be run without interruption to avoid stagnant air pockets and will be run at the maximum fresh air intake allowed by the units.

  • A variety of filtration mechanisms will be used, including an upgrade from the standard fabric HVAC filter to a MERV-13, stand-alone HEPA or UV-C filters separate from the HVAC system.

  • In the cafeteria, numerous air conditioning units serve the space, and will be outfitted with MERV-13 filters to enhance their air cleaning ability. With this increased filtration, on top of a large amount of fresh air being brought in, the cafeteria HVAC system will effectively exchange all air in the room 20 times per hour. This is significantly higher than the recommended minimum rate established by local and national health authorities to mitigate virus transmission risk. 

  • Windows and doors will be opened to the extent possible to allow fresh air into buildings and promote air circulation. In spaces without central AC, windows will be open and window AC units will be used to increase air circulation. Students are encouraged to always have warm outerwear at school.

  • Friends Seminary is committed to operate HVAC systems in a way that prioritizes occupant health, and to evaluate all available information to develop effective operating strategies. To that end, all filters are changed on a regular schedule. 

  • Friends continues its ongoing partnership with the consulting services of The Stone House Group to evaluate and develop these operating strategies based on the recommendations and guidelines on dilution, filtration and schedule modifications set forth by ASHRAE, OSHA, CDC, EPA and other governing bodies that will support the health and wellness of students, faculty and administrative staff at Friends Seminary. 

  • Below is an information tree to help faculty, staff and students to understand their spaces and help increase ventilation while they occupy indoor spaces:

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Transportation

  • Friends and NY State require that students, faculty and administrative staff that ride public or mass transportation wear masks during such transport.

  • Masks should be worn and car windows should be open if multiple families carpool together. 

  • Friends and NY State require that masks be worn at all times while on the school bus. 


Personal Travel

When considering travel, we ask community members to consult the CDC’s travel recommendations by destination, which includes guidance on how to conduct oneself in areas of substantial transmission and whether travel to a particular location or country is advised based on local conditions. 


Infected & Exposed Individuals

While we are confident that our mitigation strategies on campus along with the community's shared responsibility off campus reduces the risk of COVID-19 disruptions, we recognize that instances of exposure or infection may still occur. In each instance our Nurse, Tyler Troppmann, and/or the appropriate Divisional Office will provide instructions and information to affected individuals and families. While the following information describes our intended response plan, the unique factors of each situation may necessitate deviation. It is extremely important that every member of the community follows instructions issued by Nurse Tyler carefully, cooperatively and with respect for the critical work he does for our community. 

 

EXPOSED INDIVIDUALS

  • Individuals or their parent/guardian should notify nurse Tyler and their Division Head immediately if they suspect exposure to an individual who is infected with COVID-19. If in doubt, it is best to be in contact with Nurse Tyler so he may determine the risk of exposure.

  • Individuals that experience symptoms after a known exposure to a person with COVID-19 are presumed to be positive and are required to follow all protocols for positive individuals regardless of vaccination status or recent infection. Individuals should stay home until they are tested for Covid-19 and if positive or not tested, should isolate for at least 5 days, or until other criteria are met for school attendance (e.g. resolution of fever), whichever is longer. 

  • Individuals are eligible to exit isolation and return to campus before 5 days if they test negative for Covid-19 (i.e. either 1 PCR test, 1 professionally administered rapid antigen test, 2 at-home rapid tests conducted 24 hours apart) and their symptoms have completely resolved.

INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE TESTED POSITIVE

  • Individuals or their parents/guardian should notify nurse Tyler and the appropriate Division Head immediately if they receive a positive COVID-19 test outside of school. It is very important that Nurse Tyler and the Division Head are notified before teachers or classmates. They will coordinate accurate and proper follow-up communications. 

  • If a student is determined to be symptomatic or positive for COVID-19 while at school, the student will be isolated from others and cared for until a parent or guardian can pick them up.

  • Any individual, regardless of vaccination, who is positive for COVID-19 must isolate for a minimum of 5 (Day zero is the date of positive test or the symptom onset, whichever occurred first). Finishing isolation and returning to campus occurs as follows:

  • They are fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication or the symptoms have resolved, they may return to school between days 6-11.

  • Upon return during days 6-10, individuals must report to the infirmary for an assessment. 

  • If the nurse determines the individual’s symptoms have not resolved or if the individual  cannot  wear a mask, they will be sent home.

  • Individuals must wear a KN-95/N-95 mask on days 6-10 when on campus and maintain distance from others when removing masks to eat or drink.

  • Individuals returning from isolation prior to day 11 may not participate in extra-curricular activities including after school athletics and performing arts until day 11. Participation in after school Extended Programs is permitted.

CLOSE CONTACTS

  • Beginning January 24, 2022, the school will notify anyone who shared a classroom, lunch table, or after school activity with a positive individual during the 48 hours prior to the positive test or symptom onset. Along with notification of the positive occurrence, resources and information about remaining safe will be provided.  

  • Depending on the nature and severity of exposure, the school may require or recommend additional point of care testing (see above).

NOTIFICATIONS

Following an instance of infection or exposure on campus, Friends will communicate swiftly with all affected parties. In all communications, the privacy of individuals will be protected. No identifying information for any individual will be shared. Following the identification of a positive case:

  1. The school will establish contact with the positive individual or their parent/guardian in order to collect necessary additional information and to deliver instructions.

  2. Other affected parties will then be notified and given instructions for any necessary health measures such as quarantining or testing.

  3. The full community will then be notified that a positive case was identified and that all affected parties have been communicated with. As per state law, no identifying information except the Division in which the case occurred will be shared. Community notification will occur via the weekly FWD bulletin while case rates are high.