"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."

Important Health and Safety Updates

Our full Health and Safety Reopening plan is provided below. As information changes and we continue to evaluate our plans, the information below may change. Any updates will be posted and highlighted here.

Beginning Monday, January 25, all individuals on campus will be required to wear a surgical mask (such as the blue surgical masks available throughout campus) or an N95 or KN95 mask. Any individual that arrives at campus wearing a cloth mask will be asked to replace it with a school provided mask. Cloth masks or other personal masks may be worn over one of the aforementioned types of masks if desired.  
There is ample research suggesting the mask wearing is a critical measure in preventing viral spread and additional research showing that surgical and N95 masks are more effective than cloth masks. We are making this change in policy in order to increase on-campus safety during this critical phase of the pandemic.  
For our Lower School students, we recognize that this transition is less critical and may be more difficult for a variety of reasons. Lower School students that arrive with an unapproved mask will be encouraged to wear a child-sized surgical mask but will be supported if a more gradual transition is necessary.


Clarification about Outside Sports, Teams and Activities

Not all outside activities and sports are equal. Some common sense precautions and the evidence that has been gathered to date can help us feel secure about permitting a limited number of outside activities and sports. Contact sports and indoor sports are unacceptable. Drills have been found to be significantly safer than games. The most significant viral spread has been transmitted in locker rooms and after sport gatherings.
Therefore, organizations that run outdoor, no-contact programs which include routine COVID questionnaires (along the lines of our safety apps), 6-feet spacing, mask-wearing, drills rather than games, avoidance of locker rooms and post-sport social gatherings, and a shared set of safety protocols that govern in-person activity may be considered safe. If you believe your sport is in violation of these safety parameters, please plan to discontinue the sport to attend school in-person. If you are unsure about your program’s safety, please bring it to the attention of the School Nurse. Students who engage in these approved activities will be subject to more frequent testing when they attend school.

Clarification about Social Gatherings

Students and families are strongly discouraged from participating in any indoor social gatherings during this phase (January-March) of on-campus learning. However, there may be times when it is necessary for a family to meet indoors with others; during those times, we expect all to wear masks, avoid physical contact, and remain six or more feet away from one another. Student parties indoors should not happen at all during this time (January-March). Students and families who meet socially outdoors, masked, and six feet apart are abiding by our expectations.

Plan for Operations During In-Person Instruction

Physical Distancing

Friends Seminary is committed to a safe campus while providing in-person instruction.
  • Six feet of physical distancing space will be provided in all directions at all times while on campus and during instruction.
  • Friends will ensure that a distance of twelve feet in all directions is maintained during activities that require aerobic activity resulting in heavy breathing (e.g. physical education classes).
  • Sanitizing and PPE stations will be available throughout the campus.
  • Signage and AV displays will be posted throughout the campus—including common areas, offices and classrooms—with reminders of physical distancing and with visual representations of six feet of distance.
  • Friends' Library will be used as a classroom with restricted capacity. No books will circulate from the Library.
  • Friends has installed directional signs on each hallway’s floor, there will be an up and down staircase, bathroom use will be limited to one person at a time, and, where possible, circles with a radius of six feet will be applied to the floors of classrooms and other areas as appropriate.

List of 3 items.

  • Classrooms and Offices

    • Desks will be placed in classrooms, facing one direction, according to 6-foot physical distancing plans created by the School’s architects. Students will not be permitted to move desks from their assigned locations.
    • The sharing of desks and materials will be restricted or limited as much as practical. Where desks are shared, they will be limited to members of the same cohort. All desks will be cleaned and disinfected between use by different students. At the end of any class, other than within the same cohort, students will be provided sanitizer to wipe their desks and shared materials.
    • Each classroom will be equipped with two wheeled plexiglass and wood barriers for the teacher’s use while standing during instruction or while seated at a desk.
    • Offices will be provided with tabletop, L-shaped plexiglass barriers that can be used as needed. Any barriers used will comply with the OSHA Guidelines. 
  • Hallways and Stairwells

    • Friends will install directional signs in hallways to indicate direction of traffic in order to encourage physical distancing when students are not in their classrooms.
    • Hallways and stairwells will be limited to foot traffic going in one direction only, alternating directions on each floor. Tape and signs with arrows in hallways and throughout the campus will be installed to mark direction and distance.
    • PPE must be worn at all times while in the hallways and stairwells, whether or not other people are in the vicinity of six feet.
    • Friends has restricted the use of certain places where students congregate, such as locker nooks, so that individuals can remain physically distanced.
  • Elevators

    • Elevator use is limited to those who cannot readily use the stairs or for the transportation of large or heavy objects.
    • Elevator capacity will be limited to no more than one occupant at a time, except in the case of a student riding with a partner. Students are not permitted to ride the elevator alone. 
    • PPE will be required at all times in or near the elevator, and hand sanitizer will be available nearby for use before entering the elevator.
    • Elevator control panels will be covered with sanitizable plastic covers.
    • While waiting for the elevator, physical distancing must be observed and a physically distanced queue will be demarcated.


Students and employees will be required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while on campus and throughout the school day at all times. With appropriate physical distancing, the following are the limited exceptions to this requirement:

  • While eating or drinking.
  • When under the supervision of a school staff official who directs the covering to be removed.

The following will not be acceptable as face mask/covering:
  • Bandanas
  • Neck gaiters 
  • Articles of clothing
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Paper products
  • Masks with fewer than than 2 layers 
  • Any other face covering determined inadequate by the School

Masks should be tightly fitted to cover nose, mouth and the chin at all times and should, if reusable, be washed on a daily basis. Students and employees are also permitted to wear face shields, but only in combination with an acceptable mask. Face shields, goggles, protective glasses, 3-ply surgical and 3-ply KN-95 masks will be available from the School.

The School will maintain several-months supply of PPE at all times.

If commercially available and functionally safe, clear “communicator” masks will be provided for faculty and students in the Lower School.

To review best practices for putting on a mask, please view this CDC video.

Restart Operations

Before students, faculty, and administrative staff return to campus, several steps will be taken to prepare the physical space:

List of 5 items.

  • Deep clean of campus

    This deep cleaning will include electrostatic disinfection spraying. For more information, visit the hygiene protocols section of the Friends Healthy Fall Reopoening Plan.
  • Physical distance spacing marked

    For more information, click here to read the section of our reopening plan on signage and physical barriers.
  • Physical signage posted

    All signage will be consistent with DOH guidenlines. Additional customized, age-appropriate signage will be provided.
  • AV displays implemented

    Signage on screens throughout the school will convey reminders for individuals to:

    • Stay home if they feel sick.
    • Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain physical distance from others.
    • Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
    • Adhere to social distancing instructions.
    • Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19.
    • Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
    • Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
  • Restrooms updated

    Restrooms updates include:
    • Automatic touchless soap dispensers and touchless faucets are installed in all locations.
    • Electric hand dryers have been removed and replaced with touchless paper towel dispensers.
    • Solid toilet lids have been installed and will activate flushing when closed.


In preparation for living with a pandemic with no known horizon, Friends has decided to replace our current cleaning vendor with a company which specializes in industrial and medical hygiene. They will provide ten professionals to sanitize the school during the day as well as a deeper cleaning during the evening hours.

Already, protocols are in place to adhere to the hygiene, cleaning and disinfection requirements from the CDC and NYS DOH. Daily logs of all cleaning, including date, time, conditions encountered and scope of each cleaning and disinfection will be kept.

List of 3 items.

  • Hygiene

    Under the direction of Dr. Bravo, Friends will train all students, faculty and staff on proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and will install signage reinforcing proper hygiene throughout the Friends campus.

    Friends has installed and will maintain hand hygiene stations, including handwashing with soap, running warm water and disposable paper towels, as well as alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing 70% or more alcohol for areas where handwashing is not feasible.

    Restrooms will be designated as single use with clear markings of occupation. All restrooms will be equipped with toilet lids and touchless toilet flushers, faucets, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers. The single bathrooms in Hunter Hall, excluding those in the lobby, will be reserved for adults only.

    In the classroom, each student will have their own working supplies and will not be allowed to share. Physical education equipment will only be touched by one student per day, with all materials cleaned and sanitized overnight for the next group.

    To review best practices for personal hygiene, please consult these videos from the CDC.
  • Cleaning

    Each classroom will be provided with a dispenser containing gloves, masks, 99% alcohol spray, and disinfecting wipes to be used throughout the day. Faculty and students are asked to contribute to a healthy environment by wiping down their own work surfaces in their classrooms during the day on a regular basis. Everyone will receive proper training on these measures.

    During the school day, a number of cleaning staff will be assigned to wipe down public and high-touch areas such as railings and doorknobs with disinfectant. Cleaning staff will ensure that bathrooms are cleaned at least once every two hours, and more frequently for high-risk areas during higher use times (e.g. around lunch times.)
  • Disinfection

    At the end of each day, Friends will thoroughly clean and disinfect the facility, with heightened attention paid to disinfecting surfaces. After detailed cleaning is completed, electrostatic disinfection spraying will be conducted throughout the campus. See the FAQ section for more information about electrostatic disinfection.

    Cleaners devoted to regular cleaning will be required to wear PPE, including face covering and gloves at all times. 

    In the event an individual is confirmed to have COVID-19, Friends will clean and disinfect all exposed areas, including all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces using enhanced COVID-19 cleaning protocols.


Over the Summer, the HVAC and Fresh Air systems were studied by the School’s Architects and a team of engineers in order to identify what possible safety improvements could be made.

The campus contains a variety of systems: HVAC units that serve only one space or a small number of spaces; HVAC units that deliver and recycle air for a number of rooms; and rooms serviced by window air conditioners serving just one room.

These systems will be structured to increase fresh air as much as possible, and for the systems serving multiple rooms, to limit cross-contamination. All systems will be run without interruption to avoid stagnant air pockets.

Some combination of additional filtration will be used, including upgrades of our standard fabric HVAC filters to MERV-13, stand-alone HEPA or UV-C filters separate from the HVAC system.

Windows will be opened to the extent possible to allow fresh air into buildings and promote air circulation. Classroom doors will generally remain closed in order to limit air mixing between spaces occupied by different groups.

All units and HVAC equipment will operate in occupied mode, with outside air maximized, for one week prior to classes resuming and the students returning to campus.

Each day that the buildings will be occupied, the HVAC equipment will operate in occupied mode, with outside air maximized, for two hours before classes start or students arrive on campus.


Because Friends is located in New York City, many of our students arrive at school via public transportation. Students and employees using public transportation are expected to wear a face covering while commuting to school and to wash their hands thoroughly upon arrival at school.

Friends is coordinating with the company that provides a one-way morning service from the Upper West Side, as well as with parents who pay for this service, to ensure that physical distancing will be possible on that bus, and that such transportation will be arranged in a manner that is consistent with the efforts that Friends is making to cohort students in the Lower and Middle Schools.

Yellow bus operations as managed by the NYC Office of Pupil Transportation will proceed as allowed by the City.

The School has identified a location allowing for expanded and secure bicycle parking for students and adults who wish to bike to school. Specific details, policies and procedures for bicycle parking are in development and will be sent in a forthcoming communication.


Community breakfast service is presently suspended.

Students will be instructed to wash their hands before eating lunch, which will be served in their classrooms while continuing to maintain physical distancing.

Our food service provider, Flik Hospitality Group, will provide lunch service in the form of individually boxed meals with single-serve beverages. The meals will be delivered to the classroom with a kit containing wrapped cutlery, napkins, condiments, and a bag to store the individual’s PPE while eating. At the end of lunch, students will dispose of lunch materials in a trash receptacle and will be instructed to wash or sanitize their hands.

For students with food allergies, meals will be placed in distinctly colored packaging with the student’s name. The responsible adult in each classroom will make sure that the student with the allergy receives the assigned meal package.

Sharing of food and beverages will be prohibited and reinforced by verbal reminders provided by the responsible adult in each classroom during mealtime.

A detailed lunch plan including Flik’s safety and hygiene protocols is included here.

Monitoring Plan


Each person who visits the Friends campus (students, faculty, staff, parents, contractors, vendors and visitors) will be pre-screened for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure via the AUXS Safety App that will need to be completed prior to arrival at school each day. Families and employees will receive an email invitation to the app with clear instructions for use in the coming days.

In addition, contactless infrared thermometers will be used to conduct a daily temperature check on anyone scheduled to enter the campus. It takes approximately 1-2 seconds for the device to provide a temperature reading (click here for a brief demonstration video). When students arrive, parents/caregivers will be asked to wait until students are checked in before departing. If a student presents with a fever they will be asked to return home, and the nurse should be contacted to discuss the next steps.

Until further notice, parents and visitors are not permitted on campus.


Friends has identified a medical facility in close proximity to the School that can provide diagnostic testing: CityMD Urgent Care on East 14th Street. Families and employees may choose to use their own private medical providers for testing as well. 

Friends will require any individual who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms detected by screening protocol or discloses that they have come into contact with an individual who has tested positive or is symptomatic to be tested for COVID-19 and not to return to the School until they have had a negative COVID-19 test.

Friends has identified the School Nurse, as the main internal point of contact to provide referrals to testing resources and sites. 

In the event large-scale testing of the school population is needed, Friends will rely on support from Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, which is located in close proximity to campus.

Containment Plan


Friends will have an onsite school nurse and nurse’s aide for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. These health professionals will be responsible for safely caring for students, faculty or staff members if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day and will activate appropriate protocols.

The School health office will be provided with additional PPE, including N-95 masks, gowns, face shields and gloves, to provide appropriate protection should it become necessary for them to care for an individual infected with COVID-19.

The School Health Office has identified a dedicated area to separate individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 from others until they can go home or to a healthcare facility under visual observation of the School Nurse who will remain physically distanced.


Friends has implemented the following procedures to isolate symptomatic individuals:

  • Individuals who fail the pre-screening questionnaire based on their responses or their temperature screening will not be permitted to enter the school building. If the individual is a student, their parent or legal guardian will be contacted to come to retrieve them promptly, and they will be directed to our nearest testing facility.
  • If individuals become symptomatic while at school, they will be escorted from their classroom and sent to the School Health Office pending retrieval by their parent or legal guardian. The School Health Office will also have additional face masks and PPE to share with such individuals in order to reduce the risk of contamination during their travel home from the School. The school retains the right to summon an ambulance if the student appears to be severely ill.
  • Friends maintains updated emergency contact information for each student and plans to require families to designate a parent or guardian who will be able to retrieve their student should they become symptomatic during the school day or fail our pre-entry screening. 
  • Should that occur, we will instruct the parents/guardians of the need for the child to see a healthcare provider and the requirements for that child to return to school:
1) a negative COVID-19 test; or
2) no longer symptomatic; and a Doctor has provided a note indicating that their symptoms were caused by something other than COVID-19.


Any individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 may not return to the School facility until they have fully recovered and received a negative COVID-19 test. Friends will coordinate with the New York City and State Departments of Health to coordinate the return of the infected individual to the School facility.

Any individual who has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus must quarantine for a period of 14 days and may not return to the School facility until they have fully recovered from any infection and
1) received a negative COVID-19 test; or
2) received a Doctor’s note to the effect that any symptoms they experienced were not caused by COVID-19.

In the event that an individual that is confirmed to have COVID-19 has exposed areas of the school to the virus, such areas that were used by the affected individual will be closed (e.g., classroom, restroom, hallway).

After a period of 24 hours, the exposed areas will be cleaned and disinfected, as well as all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces with adherence to, and promotion of, hygiene, cleaning and disinfection guidance set forth by the DOH and CDC, including strategies for cleaning and infection of exposed areas and appropriate notification to occupants of such areas.


If a student or employee has COVID-19 infection symptoms, specially trained and qualified school officials will support the Department of Health’s efforts for contact tracing and enforcing quarantining of those infected and their contacts.

Friends will:
  • follow all regulatory requirements to report and notify the State immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds.
  • maintain a plan to support local health departments in tracing all contacts. 
  • obtain contact information for all persons onsite.
  • maintain confidentiality as required by law.
  • follow all protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department.

Provisions will be made to support continuity of learning from home during quarantine periods.

Designated school officials will participate in a 3 weeks intense training “Professional Learning Group” with peer schools for “COVID-19 Case Response Training” lead by an experienced board-certified pediatrician. This program is designed for readying the school health office to respond to COVID cases and exposures that may present in the community.

Closure Plan


Friends will use the metrics for reopening set forth by the New York Department of Health (DOH) in assessing whether positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing in the New York City area beyond an acceptable level. We will rely on our consulting physician and apply our own understanding of our community when considering closing the school. The administration and Board reserve the right to close the campus and move all programming to virtual learning if in their sole opinion a clear and present danger to the health and wellness of our community presents.


Friends Seminary will open with our Hybrid Model of instruction if New York City continues to post a test positivity rate at 3-5% or below, based on a rolling 7-day average. 

Once open, we will move to our Distance Learning for All Model in the event that the daily test positivity rate in New York City exceeds 5% using a rolling 7-day average. Our current plan is to begin considering closure at a 3% test positivity rate, watching the trend very closely. If the number stays steady or trends downward, we will remain open, if it continues to trend upward (toward 5% and beyond), we will close. We will continue to monitor NYS and NYC DOH guidance and will adjust as necessary. 

In addition, should Friends have confirmed or suspected positive COVID-19 cases in 5% of our population (students, faculty and staff inclusive), we will move to a fully distance learning model.

The School will evaluate the circumstances and may elect to close earlier than the above thresholds, taking into account the best interests of our students and the safety of the School community.


COVID-19 poses a significant public health threat and Friends Seminary is in no way immune to its dangers. Every member of the community is required to comply with the guidelines above. When we take care of ourselves, we are taking care of each other. Those in violation of the policies outlined above or who refuse to comply with requests to take an action to protect the campus will be asked to leave immediately and will be allowed to return only by the head of school.

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 someone or some number of members of our community will contract the virus. Short of reckless behavior they should not be blamed or shamed. Nor should anyone coming from the region of the virus’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.
Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.
222 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
P: 212-979-5030
F: 212.979.5034