Frequently Asked Questions

We have been listening to questions from our community in conversations, emails, and town halls. Thank you for your partnership and caring commitment to the wellness of our entire community. Here are frequently asked questions (FAQs) that address the common themes we have heard.

student vaccinations

Are students required to be fully vaccinated?

Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are at low risk of symptomatic or severe infection, and a growing body of evidence suggests that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are less likely to have an asymptomatic infection or transmit COVID-19 to others than people who are not fully vaccinated. Given these benefits, all students who meet the age eligibility for vaccination are required to be fully vaccinated by Friday 10/1. In order for your child to be fully vaccinated by this date, students should receive their first dose no later than Friday 8/27.

Are employees required to be fully vaccinated?

All faculty and staff are also required to be fully vaccinated by Friday 10/1. Our contracted Dining Services, Facilities, Campus Safety, and Valet providers are also required to be vaccinated. While the majority of bus drivers with Selby are fully vaccinated, Selby will communicate directly with families once they have finalized their arrangements.

What if my child becomes reaches the age of eligibility for vaccination mid-year?

Should your child become age-eligible during the academic year, we require that the vaccination series be started within 60 days of becoming eligible.

Will ECFS consider religious or medical exemptions?

ECFS will consider requests for religious and medical exemptions on an individualized, case-by-case basis:

  • ECFS is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, and supportive experience and recognizes observance of faith as it pertains to the practice of immunization. Families wishing to seek a religious exemption should complete this form and return it to covid@ecfs.org no later than Friday 8/13.

  • Medical exemptions may also be granted upon receipt of this form, completed and signed by a licensed healthcare provider, outlining the medical condition(s) contraindicating COVID-19 vaccination. Families wishing to seek a medical exemption should complete this form and return it to covid@ecfs.org no later than Friday 8/13.

How do I submit my child's vaccination record?

On the computer:

  1. Log into your Magnus Health account.

  2. Go to the Student Health Tracker.

  3. Next to the Immunization Form, click “Edit”.

  4. It will ask you if you would like to add an additional page or form. Click “Yes, continue”.

  5. It will ask you if you have already obtained and completed the form. Click “Yes, submit”.

  6. Click “Upload” to add a copy of your student’s COVID Vaccination Record Card.


On the mobile application:

  1. Log into the Magnus Mobile V2 app and click "Student Health Tracker".

  2. Click "Immunization Form".

  3. Select “Add Files” then hit "continue".

  4. Click “Add File” to add a copy of your student’s COVID Vaccination Record Card. Select the file you just uploaded and then hit “Submit.”

What happens if my child experiences side effects following vaccination?

Vaccinated individuals may experience side effects following their COVID-19 vaccination including pain and swelling at the injection site, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. The CDC offers additional resources about what to expect after getting the vaccine here.

The New York City Department of Health has issued additional guidance regarding the return to school for individuals who are experiencing post-vaccine side effects. Individuals with symptom onset occurring more than three days following vaccination must follow our standard return-to-school procedures outlined above.

For individuals with symptom onset less than three days after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine:

  • If symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, students must follow our standard return-to-school procedure which may include testing or a physician’s note.

  • If the only symptoms are fatigue, headache, chills, or muscle or joint pain, students may return to school without a negative COVID-19 test if symptoms resolve within two days. If symptoms persist beyond this timeframe, students must follow our normal return-to-school procedure.

If my child is vaccinated, will they need to quarantine following exposure to a positive case?

Consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) guidance, vaccinated persons with exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are fully vaccinated; and,

  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.

If my child is vaccinated, will they need to participate in on-campus screening testing?

Yes, at this time, all students regardless of vaccination status will participate in on-campus screening testing.

When is my child considered "fully vaccinated"?

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna) or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen).

Excelsior Pass indicates that my vaccination has expired.

Please delete the pass then re-load your information. The expiration date should then be extended to the proper timeframe.

POsitive COVID-19 cases and Quarantine

What happens when the School learns of a positive COVID-19 test?

Once the School is notified of a positive in-school or external COVID-19 test, we immediately begin our contact tracing process. Our process takes information from PowerSchool, bus routes, before-school and after-school programming (including athletics), visitor access logs, and other on-campus activities. Once we have gathered this information, we apply the criteria used by the New York City Department of Health (NYCDOH) to direct quarantine for the affected members of our community who may have been exposed.

We review all quarantine information with the NYCDOH epidemiologist who is assigned as the case investigator to ensure that our quarantine group is an appropriate one. Thus far, we have been able to accurately cast the quarantine net. Should there be any reasons to include or exclude someone from quarantine, we immediately communicate such a message.

Who qualifies as a close contact?

Close contact is defined as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person (laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) for a cumulative total of 10 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, two individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 10 minutes). In the K–12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student (laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.

Other people may be considered close contacts in certain situations, such as when physical distancing cannot be consistently monitored or maintained (such as on the school bus, younger children who are unable to remain apart and wear masks, and during sports or recreational activities).

Does my child need to quarantine if they were already positive for COVID-19 in the past?

Consistent with CDC guidance from February 13, 2021, asymptomatic individuals who have previously been diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and have since recovered, are not required to retest and quarantine within 3 months after the date of symptom onset from the initial COVID-19 infection or date of the first positive diagnostic test if asymptomatic during illness.

Does my child need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated?

Consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) guidance, vaccinated persons with exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are fully vaccinated; and,

  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.

What does the School do when they learn that a student may have been exposed to COVID-19?

As outlined in A Guide to Reopening Our School, the School takes the necessary steps to isolate those individuals in the affected class, cohort, or bus route. When a child has potential exposure, the School notifies parents/guardians individually to quarantine according to New York State Department of Health guidance. Moving forward, the School will continue to do so.

If my child is quarantined, do my other children have to quarantine?

The short answer is no. A contact of a contact does not have to be quarantined. Only people in direct contact with someone with COVID-19 have to quarantine. These guidelines have been determined by the Department of Health under the guidance of the CDC. Click here for more CDC information on quarantining.

How long will my child be in quarantine?

Quarantine for individuals exposed to COVID-19 can end after ten days without a testing requirement if no symptoms have been reported during the quarantine period. Individuals must continue daily symptom monitoring through Day 14 and should continue strict adherence to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including hand hygiene and the use of face coverings. If any symptoms develop, individuals should immediately self-isolate and contact their healthcare provider to report this change in clinical status and determine if they should seek testing.

Can my child 'test out' of the 10-day quarantine?

No, close contacts must complete a full 10-day quarantine before returning to in-person learning.

Will there be remote learning for students placed in quarantine?

Ethical Culture and Fieldston Lower

In the event that a child has to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure and their class remains in school, their teacher(s) will assign daily, asynchronous work. Their teacher(s) will also provide daily, virtual check-ins to support their asynchronous work and answer any questions they may have. The focus of their asynchronous work will be their academic subjects taught in the classroom (math, language arts, social studies), and specialists will not provide asynchronous work. For students absent for any other reason (regular sickness, travel, appointment, etc.) asynchronous work and teacher check-ins will not be provided. As in a typical, pre-covid year, make-up work will be provided upon their return to school.

How many COVID-19 cases has ECFS had to date?

Updated information and metrics about COVID-19 in the ECFS community are available through the New York State COVID-19 Report Card.

TRAvel and RETURN FROM recesses

Can we travel over weekends or holidays?

The School expects families to comply with any New York State or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel directives.

What are the requirements for returning to New York following domestic travel?

There are generally no quarantine, work furlough, or testing requirements for domestic travelers.

What are the requirements for returning to New York following international travel?

CDC and NYS recommend delaying international travel until the traveler is fully vaccinated. Currently, the NYS DOH does not require quarantine, work furlough, or testing requirements for international travelers.


If traveling internationally, check with your destination’s Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health or the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Country Information for details about entry requirements and restrictions for arriving travelers. Follow all entry requirements for your destination and provide any required or requested health information.

If traveling by air, check if your airline requires any health information, testing, or other documents. If traveling internationally, you must get a COVID-19 test no more than 3 days before you return by air to the United States. You are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States.

What are the Fall 2021 return-to-school testing requirements?

To ensure our safest possible return to in-person learning, all students must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken on Tuesday 9/7 or later, regardless of vaccination status. To facilitate access to COVID-19 testing, the School will be offering testing on Thursday 9/9 on the Fieldston campus and Friday 9/10 on the Ethical Culture campus. The testing team will be available from 9:00am–1:00pm on both testing dates. Families may choose to test on either campus.

For families who choose to obtain COVID-19 testing externally, your child’s test result must be uploaded to the Magnus Health portal before they return from Summer Recess. All families will receive an email from Magnus Health on Tuesday 9/7 with the ability to upload COVID-19 test results. If you use the on-campus testing option described above, your test result will be automatically uploaded.

Do we need to submit negative test results ahead of the Grade 6 and Grade 9 Orientations?

Yes, all students are required to receive a negative COVID-19 test result prior to returning to school. For Grade 6 and Grade 9 families, the students will be returning for Orientation on Friday 9/10. In consideration of the Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah holidays, Grade 6 and Grade 9 families may receive and upload test results as early as Monday 9/6.

What type of test will the School accept for Return-from-Summer testing?

The School will accept any FDA-approved/emergency use authorized test (Vault, binaxNOW, ellume, PCR, rapid, etc.).

Are at-home tests accepted?

The School will accept any FDA-approved/emergency use authorized test. We encourage families utilizing at-home testing to select tests that allow you to pair the test with a mobile application so that the patient's name and test result are electronically displayed.

Where do I sign the EverPoint Testing Waiver?

The EverPoint Health testing registration may be found here.

I don't recall the time slot I've selected for on-site testing.

Please contact covid@ecfs.org and we'd be happy to assist.

Will the School be modifying upcoming holiday recesses?

We will observe the Fall Recess, Winter Recess, and Spring Recess as calendared. School will resume after each recess as it always has, despite the pandemic. Any closures this year will be the result of necessity — e.g., because of virus transmission rates or seriously inclement weather.

On-campus STUDENT screening TESTING

How do I provide insurance for in-school COVID-19 testing?

The cost to procure, administer, and provide laboratory analysis is included in our reopening costs, and no out-of-pocket costs will be incurred by families. However, in an effort to reduce the economic impact to the School, we ask that if you have insurance, you provide a photo of the front and back of your child’s insurance card to jgalarza@ecfs.org. We are grateful to the families who have already taken this step to help defray the costs related to our testing program.

What kind of test is being conducted?

The School will be conducting Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. Families have the option to choose between a saliva-based swish test, which involves swishing a sterile saline (saltwater) solution for 30 seconds and spitting it into a vial, or an anterior nares swab which goes approximately 1/2”–3/4” inside the nostrils. The School will continue to work with Everpoint Health, a provider of COVID-19 testing solutions, to oversee the testing process.

How accurate is PCR testing?

The laboratory uses the methods developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to perform nucleic acid amplification (NAA) and detection of COVID-19. The COVID-19 assay demonstrates over 99% specificity and sensitivity. The false-negative rate is less than 1 case per 1,000 positive cases.

Will the results of my child’s test be disclosed to ECFS?

Our testing program relies on the School knowing test results so we can manage individual positive cases and the potential impact of community spread. Families will submit a consent form through Magnus to indicate their permission for Everpoint Health/Greenwich Medical Partners to perform a COVID-19 test and share the results of the COVID-19 test with ECFS. All test results will be kept in strict confidence and not disclosed to any other parties. Please note that on average, test results will be provided to ECFS two to three days after the saliva sample is collected.

How will test results be communicated to parents?

No notification will be made if your child tests negative. If your child tests positive, you will receive a call from a physician who will explain the results and advise you on next steps.

What happens if my child tests positive?

The School will contact you about next steps and when your child will be able to safely return to campus.

How often will my child be tested?

The School will provide weekly COVID-19 testing.

Can I submit a test from our medical provider instead of the in-school testing?

Testing for COVID-19 is available through medical practitioners and other local options like major pharmacies and/or testing centers. These tests are valuable in diagnosing the symptoms of an illness you or your child may be experiencing. Should a situation require such, it may be necessary to disclose the results of these tests to the School. In order to ensure the most uniform and consistent reporting for our testing program, we will not accept the test results from an external provider in lieu of in-school testing.

What if I don’t want ECFS to test my child?

Testing is a requirement so that we can maintain a safe environment. Absent any necessary compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), students are required to participate in screening testing. Parents or guardians requesting an accommodation of this nature should make their request in writing to covid@ecfs.org.

What were other key considerations?

We recognize that testing represents a snapshot in time and that availability of testing and turnaround of testing results would be key considerations for our community. We also knew that ongoing testing would be prudent to help monitor our community's health and proactively identify asymptomatic cases.

Where do I direct specific questions about PCR testing or the testing process?

Please direct questions about the testing process to Everpoint Health at ecfs@everpointhealth.com.

Where do I learn more about Everpoint Health?

Everpoint Health develops tailored COVID-19 testing solutions to meet the needs of day and boarding schools, colleges, universities, businesses, and other organizations. Everpoint Health is the sister company to Greenwich Medical Partners, a premier concierge practice led by internist Dr. Caleb Moore. Further information can be found on their website: www.everpointhealth.com.

general school day

How will Selby and DOE buses be practicing safety measures?

All riders must wear acceptable face coverings at all times while on school buses. Additional face coverings will be available at the front of the bus should a student arrive to their bus without a face covering. No student will be turned away at their bus stop. Students are, however, required to complete their daily pre-arrival questionnaire, including temperature screening, before boarding the bus.

New contact-tracing rules allow us to use seating charts to determine the proximity that other children had to a positive case of COVID-19. These seating charts allow us to quarantine only the students identified as close contacts. To limit possible physical interaction among students, seating assignments will be developed to allow students to board the bus by filling the back rows first, and then progressing forward. When leaving the bus, students should exit in the opposite order. No eating or drinking is permitted on the school bus. Windows and roof hatches will be opened to increase ventilation when temperatures are above 45oF.

Selby Bus Corp employees will undergo daily pre-arrival screenings and will be required to wear personal protective equipment at all times. Selby will provide PPE for all employees as well as hand sanitizers for all staff in dispatch offices, employee rooms, and bus garages. Transportation staff will be encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water before and after AM and PM runs to stay healthy and prevent the spread of infections.

School buses will be cleaned and disinfected at the beginning of the day, end of the day, and between each route that utilizes the bus.

To protect the health and safety of our students and to ensure there is adequate capacity on our buses, employees are only permitted to ride morning or afternoon buses when the bus company has confirmed that there is the capacity for them to do so.

NYC Department of Education (DOE) Bus Protocols may be found here.

Will vaccinated students be able to take different routes home for after school activities as they did prior to last year?

We anticipate that Selby will be able to accommodate alternative bus routes for students who must regularly dismiss to locations other than their primary residence. Additional information will follow from Selby this month.

How will lunch be different this year?

Here are some of the school-wide dining services plans for this year, and below are specific changes by division.

  • All self-service stations — including salad and deli bars, soup stations, and beverage stations — are suspended.

  • All utensils and flatware will be disposable products with priority given to compostable, biodegradable, or recyclable products.

  • Chefs will continue to develop unique cycle menus in the fall, winter, and spring.

  • Menu staples, including vegetarian options and allergen meals, will remain unchanged. The main hot lunch, “Homestyle Meals,” will continue to include a protein, starch, and vegetable.

  • We recommend that students who are unable to independently identify allergen labels on placards or menus enjoy the Clarity meal each day. Clarity provides a nutritious meal comparable to the Homestyle station featuring seasonal food availability.

Ethical Culture and Fieldston Lower

With limited space to physically distance in our dining halls, students will eat meals in their respective classrooms, or if weather permits, outdoors. Lunch meals will be pre-ordered by parents each week through myMealOrder, individually packaged and labeled in disposable containers, and delivered to the students’ classroom. Daily snacks will be provided at Ethical Culture and Fieldston Lower in pre-packaged containers. Bulk containers (e.g., a tub of Goldfish) will not be available.

Middle School and Upper School

With limited space to physically distance in our dining halls, students will eat meals outdoors or in indoor spaces. Lunch meals will be individually packaged, grab-and-go meals in disposable containers. In order to accommodate all students and employees while maintaining proper physical distance, there will be a secondary serving location outdoors in addition to the dining hall. Students will be assigned to one of the two serving locations. Students who are assigned to the dining hall will enter through the 700s building door and will follow floor decals to ensure appropriate physical distance while waiting on the line. Students who are assigned to the secondary serving location outdoors will proceed outdoors and will queue in the area designated by stanchions, fencing, or other markings to ensure appropriate physical distancing.

The traditional breakfast program in the dining hall will return for the 2021 - 2022 school year.

If families are concerned, can students bring outside food for lunch?

In order to maintain an environment where allergens are controlled, students at Ethical Culture and Fieldston Lower are not permitted to bring outside food to campus. Middle School and Upper School students are permitted to bring nut-free snacks with them to campus. Please see our divisional Student & Family Handbooks for more information about snacks.

How will you manage student restroom use?

Restroom use will be staggered by encouraging students to avoid restrooms during class changes and instead use restrooms by being excused from class. Signage has been posted to remind users of physical distancing and hand washing. Lids have been added to all toilet seats. In terms of cleaning and disinfection, particular attention will be paid to restrooms to ensure they are regularly cleaned and disinfected throughout the course of the day.

Will students be allowed to use lockers?

Locker use will be limited whenever possible. Lockers will be assigned in a manner consistent with physical distancing to allow the maximum possible distance between students using their lockers. Students should use their lockers to store necessary books and materials and avoid carrying an unreasonable number of books or materials throughout the day.

Are parents, guardians, caregivers, and visitors allowed on campus?

In general, parent, guardian, caregiver, and visitor access will be significantly limited and subject to all COVID-19 protocols and procedures. Necessary visitors will be required to undergo on-site screenings and will be prevented from intermingling in close contact with each other prior to completion of the screening. In general and whenever possible, meetings should be held using video or teleconferencing to reduce the density of congregations.

Critically necessary visits include, but are not limited to:

  • Pre-arranged, individual-household tours with the Admissions team

  • Final stage interviews for employee candidates

  • Pre-arranged parent/guardian-administrator or parent/guardian-teacher meetings

  • Attendance at pre-approved events hosted by the Office of Institutional Advancement and Alumni (OIAA)

  • Select volunteers’ attendance at pre-approved events

  • Deliveries

  • Regulatory inspectors

Given the outdoor spatial restrictions at Ethical Culture, families arriving by foot should follow signage indicating pedestrian flow and ingress/egress to the building.

Will you still be conducting fire drills and lockdown drills?

Yes. Education Law § 807 requires that schools conduct eight fire evacuation and four lockdown drills each school year. When planning drills, consideration will be given to how ECFS can modify our drill procedures to minimize risk of spreading infection. Conducting drills is an important part of keeping students and employees safe in an emergency; however, because steps must be taken to minimize the risk of spreading infection while conducting drills, it will be necessary for ECFS to conduct drills in the 2020–2021 school year using different protocols (i.e., using a staggered schedule and physical distancing) than the customary ones.

Regardless of the modifications used when conducting a drill, students will be instructed that in an actual emergency requiring evacuation or lockdown, the most imminent concern is to get to safety; maintaining physical distance in an actual emergency that requires evacuation or lockdown may not be possible and should not be the first priority.

health and safety

What is the approach for the 2021 - 2022 academic year?

  • Prioritize the return of 100% in-person learning with safety at the center of our planning.

  • Our plans are designed with scalability in mind to ensure our policies reflect the most up-to-date scientific evidence and guidance, while also considering the reality of rising community transmission rates.

  • To prevent transmission within our community, we continue to implement a layered mitigation strategy encompassing many of the policies introduced over the past year.

  • Expect a fall planning communication from us later this month.

  • Additional divisional-specific information will be provided during the principals’ forums on Thursday 8/26 at 8:00pm.

What did we learn from 2020 - 2021?

  • A layered approach to mitigation including pre-arrival screenings, face coverings, physical distancing, screening tests, and contact tracing has been effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 within our community.

  • Patience and flexibility from our families were essential as we navigated the many unknowns together.

  • We strived to communicate details as accurately, holistically, and quickly as we could.

  • The scientific and medical guidance evolved quickly and was responsive to international trends.

  • National and state-level guidance led our decision-making processes.

What is the plan for masking this year?

Universal masking will remain in place while indoors, regardless of vaccination status, with the exception of eating/drinking, playing a wind instrument, or working in a single-occupant space.

What is the plan for physical distancing this year?

Physical distancing has been reduced to a minimum of three feet between students in a classroom setting. Physical distancing of six feet will be required:

  • During vocal music, wind instrument, and aerobic activities;

  • Between unvaccinated adults;

  • Between adults and students;

  • While eating/drinking;

  • In common spaces (i.e., hallways, lobbies, gyms, etc.) where possible.

How are we supporting students during the transition back to full-time in-person school from both social/emotional and an academic perspective?

  • The ECFS faculty and staff are keenly aware of the impacts that the past year and a half has had on our students.

  • As American Academy for Pediatrics Chairperson Dr. Sonja O’Leary has said, “We need to prioritize getting children back into schools alongside their friends and their teachers — and we all play a role in making sure it happens safely.”

  • The divisional teams are prepared to support students in a variety of ways and additional information will be shared in the principals’ forums.

What would you like our community to focus more on this year?

The past year and a half was difficult for our families to navigate through as we supported one another through many unknowns. Focusing this year on engagement with one another and our great community seems to be the most fitting way to celebrate the metaphorical embrace of our beautiful, diverse, and caring School.

Who is the School consulting with for guidance about reopening?

The School’s reopening plan was developed in accordance with the New York State Department of Education Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools and the Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency with additional information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

We remain in close contact with our medical director, NYCDHMH epidemiologist, and are attending briefings with physicians at ISM for up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccine, the Delta variant, and the role children play in the transmission of COVID-19 to ensure our return to in-person learning keeps safety at the center of our planning.

How will you protect those who are at high risk in our community?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some members of our community need to take extra precautions in order to protect themselves. Additional information about populations at higher risk for severe illness can be found here. Reasonable accommodations are made for those members of our community who cannot engage in school activities, whether those are academic, co-curricular, or related to other programming. Families should speak to their child’s divisional principal; employees should speak with Human Resources.

How do students and employees complete the required daily health screening before coming to school?

ECFS requires a daily screening for the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and history of exposure to potential or confirmed cases of COVID-19. All students (or a parent/guardian) and all employees will complete a confidential daily pre-arrival questionnaire administered through the Magnus Health app before departing for School. If a family does not have access to an online system or internet connection, they should contact the divisional nurse to schedule an on-site screening. The School will take steps to ensure that students are screened on campus as quickly as possible to minimize time away from class.

What happens if a student or employee is sick?

Any student or employee who is sick is encouraged to stay home. A student who is instructed to remain home following their daily screening questionnaire must not report to school. If a student reports to school having passed their daily screening questionnaire and begins to feel ill or an employee recognizes signs/symptoms requiring further evaluation, the student will be sent to the school nurse. If the nurse recommends an early dismissal, the student will remain in the nurse’s isolation room until a parent, guardian, or caregiver arrives for pickup. In accordance with the Interim Guidance for Child Care Programs, the student will be sent home with instructions to contact their healthcare provider for assessment. The School will immediately notify the state and local health department about any case in which a student or employee diagnostic test result returns positive for COVID-19.

Students who were sent home may return to school as described below:

OPTION A

  • Student is evaluated by a healthcare provider; and,

  • Documented negative PCR COVID-19 test results; and,

  • Symptom resolution, including no fever, without the use of fever or pain reducing medication for 24 hours.

OPTION B

  • Student is evaluated by a healthcare provider; and,

  • Documented positive COVID-19 test results; and,

  • It has been at least ten days since symptom onset, or ten days since the date of the test if asymptomatic; and,

  • Symptom resolution, including no fever, without the use of fever or pain reducing medication for 24 hours.

OPTION C

  • Student is evaluated by a healthcare provider; and,

  • Documented diagnosis by a healthcare provider of a known chronic condition with unchanged symptoms or a confirmed acute illness (e.g. laboratory-confirmed influenza, strep-throat); and,

  • Documentation by a healthcare provider that a COVID-19 test is not medically indicated; and,

  • Symptoms have resolved according to the usual guidelines for that diagnosis.

OPTION D

  • If your child is not evaluated by a healthcare provider, or if a COVID-19 diagnostic test is recommended but not done, and there is no alternate diagnosis, your child must remain home for at least 10 days since symptom onset; and,

  • Symptoms have resolved, including no fever, without the use of fever or pain reducing medication for 24 hours.

In the event that the student came in close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19 or with symptoms of COVID-19, the student must be quarantined for 10 days. For a visual of return to school options, please click here.

What happens if my child experiences side effects following vaccination?

Vaccinated individuals may experience side effects following their COVID-19 vaccination including pain and swelling at the injection site, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. The CDC offers additional resources about what to expect after getting the vaccine here.

The New York City Department of Health has issued additional guidance regarding the return to school for individuals who are experiencing post-vaccine side effects. Individuals with symptom onset occurring more than three days following vaccination must follow our standard return-to-school procedures outlined above.

For individuals with symptom onset less than three days after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine:

  • If symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, students must follow our standard return-to-school procedure which may include testing or a physician’s note.

  • If the only symptoms are fatigue, headache, chills, or muscle or joint pain, students may return to school without a negative COVID-19 test if symptoms resolve within two days. If symptoms persist beyond this timeframe, students must follow our normal return-to-school procedure.

What will trigger a full or partial closure of the School?

The following would trigger a full or partial closure of ECFS:

  • As ordered by federal, state, or local regulations;

  • As recommended, following a consultation with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene;

  • Quarantine of a number of dining services employees whose absence would preclude the School from providing dining services;

  • Quarantine of a number of bus drivers whose absence would preclude the School from providing transportation services;

  • Quarantine of a number of employees whose absence would preclude the School from providing adequate supervision or instruction;

  • Quarantine of a number of nurses whose absence would preclude the School from providing medical supervision;

  • 20% of students/employees under quarantine or isolation at the Upper School would constitute an automatic closure of that division. The closure of the Upper School may trigger the closure of the Middle School should conditions necessitate;

  • 20% of students/employees under quarantine or isolation at the Middle School would constitute an automatic closure of that division. The closure of the Middle School may trigger the closure of the Upper School should conditions necessitate;

  • 20% of students/employees under quarantine or isolation at Ethical Culture or Fieldston Lower would constitute an automatic closure of that division.

The School reserves the right to close campuses or divisions for in-person learning should it be deemed prudent based on a number of variables within our school community, city, and state.

Will ECFS close its campuses if New York City public schools close due to increasing COVID-19 positivity rates?

The School will not make decisions in lockstep with the New York City Department of Education.

As outlined in A Guide to Reopening Our School, we will certainly abide by mandated governmental guidance or direction regarding closure for independent schools. We will communicate further details to you through our School Messenger emergency notification system should we be mandated to close our campuses and activate fully remote learning.

What will cause the School to transition to the fully remote learning option?

Unless a full closure is warranted to protect the health and safety of our community (as described in the question above), the School will endeavor to decrease the scale or scope of in-person education prior to initiating a full transition to remote learning. These reductions will help to eliminate the number of students on campus and time students may spend on campus and include the temporary suspension of in-person athletics, after school or before school programs, and courses.

How is the School approaching ventilation?

For buildings with central air conditioning systems, the School’s certified HVAC contractor has installed the highest rated MERV filters that meet the current New York State requirements. For rooms with window air conditioners and split unit (ductless) air conditioners, the School’s certified HVAC contractor has installed the highest appropriate filters based on unit specifications. To date, the CDC guidance has recommended increasing outdoor air to rooms like this by opening doors and windows. Ventilation will be increased with outdoor air to the greatest extent possible.

The School will schedule HVAC filter changes based on manufacturer guidelines and in consultation with our certified HVAC contractor. The School will make replacements with the highest rated MERV filter that can be accepted by the unit. Staff will be equipped with proper PPE when working with HVAC filters.


In classrooms that don't have access to HVAC ventilation, the School will provide air purifiers which have HEPA 13 air filters. These filters are commonly used in a biomedical capacity and are tested to remove 99.9% of particles down to 0.1 microns.


Where possible during peak use times, doors will be latched in an open position to minimize necessary contact.


Additionally, the School will ensure that:

  • all systems are working properly and are code compliant;

  • diffusers, exhausts, and unit vents are not blocked or obstructed by cabinets, books or other materials;

  • routine maintenance and inspection schedules are strictly adhered to;

  • bathroom exhaust systems are running 24/7;

  • systems are running longer on days in which school is in session;

  • building air is flushed at least two hours prior to and one hour after occupancy;

  • window and/or box fans are used to cross ventilate rooms to exhaust stale room air in the absence of mechanical ventilation;

  • window based air conditioning units are set to the outdoor air setting rather than the recirculate setting;

  • devices are sized appropriately with the correct clean air delivery rate (CADR);

  • units that feature ionizers, precipitators, or ozone generators are not utilized;

  • units can deliver at least two air turnovers per hour for typical school classroom sizes; and,

  • units are CARB and Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) certified;

My child missed an immunization for a vaccine other than the COVID-19 vaccine due to the pandemic. Do I need to reschedule a missed immunization?

NYSDOH expects any students who missed doses of vaccines due to COVID-19 to receive any overdue doses within 14 days after entry into the 2021-2022 school year, regardless of in-person or remote school attendance; this may be extended to 30 days for students transferring from out-of-state or another country.

What are the key components of the ECFS Community Health Pledge that we should be mindful of?

You can read the full ECFS Community Health Pledge here. When safety measures are lax or flouted, individuals are making choices that put us all at risk. To keep our community safe and our School open, EVERYONE must adhere to the ECFS Community Health Pledge and in particular uphold behaviors when not on campus:

As members of this community, each individual student, faculty, and staff member commits to the following when off campus:

  • Recognizing that the behavior of our community members off campus directly influences the risks that students and employees take by coming to campus.

  • Continuing to adhere to the safety measures outlined by New York State and the CDC to reduce the spread of the virus, such as limiting the circle of one’s social contacts, practicing safe physical distancing, wearing a mask when in public when required, and frequent handwashing.