Frequently Asked Questions

We have been listening to questions from our community in conversations, emails, town halls, and submitted through this microsite. 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.

This page will be updated in August 2021 based on our plans and policies for the 2021 - 2022 academic year.


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.

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 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 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.”

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), 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?

Guidance from our public health officials has been evolving over the past several months. The NYC Commissioner of Health has issued new guidance that redefines the qualifications for close contact status. Close contact is now defined as an individual who was within six feet of a positive case for at least 10 minutes, shared a classroom with a positive case, or spent more than 10 minutes in an enclosed space similar in size to a typical classroom with a positive case during their infectious period, regardless of whether they were wearing a face covering or separated by barriers.

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

Not typically. 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 SARS-CoV-2 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 recent CDC guidance, asymptomatic individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to quarantine during the first 3 months after full vaccination, if the following criteria are met: They are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine), AND they are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series, AND they have remained asymptomatic since last 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 pod, 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 and their pod are 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?

Consistent with recent CDC guidance, 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. These quarantine requirements are also applicable to travelers who are not essential workers and/or who did not complete the testing requirements described in Executive Order 205.2.

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

While New York State has adopted the CDC's 10-day quarantine, the NYS DOH has not adopted the 'test out' options that would allow an individual to discontinue their quarantine.

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? What are the rules for doing so and returning to school?

The School expects families to comply with New York State travel directives. On the morning of your child's first scheduled day on campus, families should complete the daily prearrival screening questionnaire and select the return-from-travel option that best describes their re-entry.

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

Domestic travel is defined as travel lasting 24 hours or longer to states or US territories other than contiguous states (i.e., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont). Travelers must continue to fill out the NYS Department of Health Traveler Health Form.

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

All unvaccinated domestic travelers who have not recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months are recommended to get tested 3-5 days after arrival in New York, consider non-mandated self-quarantine (7 days if tested on day 3-5, otherwise 10 days), and avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe disease for 14 days, regardless of the test result.

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. International travelers must comply CDC requirements, which currently include proof of negative test or recent COVID recovery in order to board airplanes heading to the United States. Travelers must continue to fill out the NYS Department of Health Traveler Health Form.

Currently, the CDC does not require quarantine, work furlough, or testing requirements for asymptomatic international travelers.

New York follows that recommendation with the following exceptions:

  • Fully vaccinated individuals who have not recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months are recommended to get tested 3-5 days after arrival in New York from international travel.

  • All unvaccinated international travelers who have not recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months are recommended to get tested 3-5 days after arrival in New York, consider non-mandated self-quarantine (7 days if tested on day 3-5, otherwise 10 days), and avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe disease for 14 days, regardless of the test result.

Travelers from Canada, crossing at land borders subject to the agreement between the governments of the United States and Canada, are permitted to travel in accordance with said federal agreement and need not quarantine solely due to such federally-authorized travel. Travelers flying between the US and Canada must follow the CDC guidance for international travel.

Which states are exempt from the NYS Traveler Health Form?

Contiguous exempt states are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

Which type of test is required to return from a break?

We will accept any FDA-emergency use authorized (EUA) test including PCR molecular, Rapid antigen, etc.

Does my child need to submit a test if they were positive in the past 90 days?

No. Since they were positive within the past 90 days, we will not assign the testing requirement to their account on Magnus.

Does my child need to submit a test if they are fully vaccinated?

Yes, the CDC states, "Although COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting sick, scientists are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not get sick. If you are vaccinated against COVID-19, you may still be exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. After exposure, people can be infected with or “carry” the virus that causes COVID-19 but not feel sick or have any symptoms. Experts call this “asymptomatic infection." For this reason, even after vaccination, we need to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions."

My child is remote for the first week after Spring Break. When can I submit the test result?

All students must receive a negative test for COVID-19 taken no earlier than Tuesday, March 30th, and should upload the results to their child's Magnus Health profile. Much like the return from Winter Recess, the Magnus requirement will ask families to upload the results no later than the Sunday prior to the child's scheduled return. In most cases, this will be Sunday, April 4th so our nursing teams are able to prepare the compliance reports for the following morning. Families who are not back until the second week have a little more flexibility in submitting their test results. As long as these families upload their results to Magnus by Sunday, April 11th, we should have no problem processing compliance reports for their Monday return.

My child will not be in-person until May, do they still need to submit a test taken after March 30?

No, the testing requirement will be removed from Magnus end-of-day, Friday, April 16th.

How do I upload the test results to Magnus?

You can upload the negative COVID-19 test results to your child's Magnus Health profile by either computer or mobile app.

  • Via computer - log in to your Magnus Health profile. On the Front Desk, you will see that you have an outstanding requirement to complete titled, "Spring Recess COVID-19 Test Results". By clicking "Turn it in" you should be able to upload the test result file.

  • Via mobile app - log in and click "Student Health Tracker". Select "Spring Recess COVID-19 Test Results", then press "Submit requirement".

Will the School be modifying upcoming holiday recesses?

We will observe the Fall Recess (Monday 11/23 – Friday 11/27), Winter Recess (Monday 12/21 - Friday 1/1), and Spring Recess (Monday 3/22 - Friday 4/2) 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.

Protocol for Mandated campus closure

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 anticipate directives of this nature to be issued through Governor Cuomo’s office and that the decisions will be consistent with the micro-cluster focus zones established throughout New York State. Over the course of the past several months, these micro-cluster zones have been isolated to specific boroughs or areas and have not necessitated a state-wide closure.

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.


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 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) test using a 2 mL saliva sample, which is less than half of a teaspoon. PCR is a technique used to amplify small segments of DNA. PCR testing is the “gold standard” in detecting COVID-19 infections in the earliest stage. The School has engaged Everpoint Health, a provider of COVID-19 testing solutions, to oversee the testing process. The saliva samples will be processed by Everpoint Health’s laboratory partner, GENETWORx. GENETWORx is a leading CLIA certified and CAP accredited laboratory.

Here is are a few brief videos demonstrating the COVID-19 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?

We originally planned for testing to take place on a rolling 20-day maximum. This maximum took into account rotating student schedules and planned holidays. In practice, all students will be tested every 14 days. Testing schedules are developed in consultation with each division and we will continue to refine as needed.

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 whose families do not consent to testing will be moved to remote learning. Parents or guardians requesting an accommodation of this nature should make their request in writing to

What is the cost of the 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, to please provide your insurance information on your child’s first day of COVID-19 testing. You will receive a message with instructions a few days before your child’s first test with instructions. Please note that if your insurance carrier does not cover the cost of the tests, the School will be billed directly.

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

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:

the ECFS Community health pledge

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.

general school day

How will Selby and DOE buses be practicing safety measures?

All riders must wear appropriate face coverings at all times while on school buses. Additional face coverings will be available at the front of the bus should students arrive to their bus without a face covering. No students 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.

All riders will be required to maintain appropriate physical distancing while on the school bus, unless they are members of the same household. To limit possible physical interaction among students, students are required to board the school 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 Transportation 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, at the end of the day, and between each route that utilizes the bus.

No Selby route will be shared with other schools.

How will snacks and 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. 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 predetermined locations. Lunch meals will be individually packaged, grab-and-go meals in disposable containers. Students and employees will enter through the 700s building door and will follow floor decals to ensure physical distancing while waiting in line. The traditional breakfast program will be suspended to encourage students to meet directly at their first period classroom. Dining Services will provide satellite pickup stations throughout the divisions in the morning so students may pick up pre-packaged products (e.g., wrapped fruit, NutriGrain bars, etc.).

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 will be posted to remind users of physical distancing and hand washing. Lids will be added to all toilet seats. In the lower divisions, the School will develop a system to stagger students’ restroom breaks.

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 cohorting 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.

Given physical distancing requirements, is the School planning to use additional areas or spaces?

On the Fieldston campus, the School will use tented outdoor areas to provide increased physical distancing in learning and co-curricular environments. Tents, both temporary and permanent, are regulated by code and will be submitted for any applicable building permits.

At Ethical Culture, Central Park will be used for outdoor classes and other activities. Consistent with Mayor de Blasio’s announcement on Monday 8/24, the School has filed an application to use outdoor space adjacent to the campus.

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

In general, parents, guardians, caregivers, and visitors will not be permitted open access to school buildings. They will be allowed on campuses for pick-up or drop-off at designated locations and entrances while maintaining appropriate physical distancing. All parent programming through December 2020 has been moved to a virtual format.

Critically necessary visitors will be required to undergo on-site screenings and will be prevented from intermingling in close or proximate contact with each other prior to completion of the screening.

Are students and faculty allowed to leave campus and then return after their morning arrival?

No. Additionally, all day and overnight field trips, service-learning trips, and international trips have been postponed through December 2020.

I have children in two divisions. Will you schedule them for the same on-campus days?

As we move further into the scheduling process, we will attempt to have siblings on campus whenever possible. However given the size and complexity of our School and the different schedule for each division and student, we may not always be able to have siblings on campus at the same time. Siblings within the Middle School will be on campus on the same days.

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

Who is the School consulting with for guidance about reopening?

The School’s reopening plan was developed in accordance with Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools Reopening Guidance (“the Guidance”), the New York State Reopening Guidance for Religious and Independent 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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.

ECFS will provide a remote-only option for families who choose not to send their children back to school. The School has set intervals by which students may transition from remote learning to in-person learning. Please see the Remote Learning section for these dates.

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:


  • Student is evaluated by a healthcare provider within 48 hours of symptom onset; 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.


  • Student is evaluated by a healthcare provider within 48 hours of symptom onset; 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 72 hours.


  • Student is evaluated by a healthcare provider within 48 hours of symptom onset; 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.


  • 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 72 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.

Whose responsibility is COVID-19 testing?

At this time, the School does not have self-testing systems or testing systems in school facilities.

While the school nurse is responsible for referring a student for testing and Human Resources for employees, it is the employee and parent’s responsibility to source testing through the local health department testing site, a physician’s office, or a hospital system. In the event that large-scale testing at the School is needed, the Operations Department will coordinate plans with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

What happens when there is a positive COVID-19 test in a cohort or class?

If a student from a given cohort or class is confirmed to be COVID-19 positive, then the cohort or class will self-quarantine at home for the following two weeks. If the student who tested positive has a sibling in a different cohort or class, the sibling will also self-quarantine for two weeks; however, the sibling’s classmates will not need to quarantine unless the sibling tests positive.

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;

  • 15% 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;

  • 15% 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;

  • 15% 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.

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.

The School will review daily metrics, like the results of the check for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and exposure to potential or confirmed cases of COVID-19, in order to make decisions of this nature.

How is the School approaching ventilation?

For buildings with central air conditioning systems, the School’s certified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor installed the highest-rated minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) filters that meet or are above the current New York State requirements. For rooms with window air conditioners and split-unit (ductless) air conditioners, the School’s certified HVAC contractor installed the highest appropriate filters based on unit specifications. To date, the CDC guidance has recommended increasing outdoor air to rooms like these 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 do not have access to HVAC ventilation, the School will provide air purifiers that have high-efficiency particulate air (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.

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.

Learning models

Hyflex learning is a learning environment that allows a portion of the students in a given class to meet in person on campus and a portion of the students to participate remotely in real-time via Google Meet. Each classroom will be equipped with cameras and microphones under the control of the teacher to enable remote students to participate live in classes held on campus.

Remote learning is any learning that happens when students and instructors are separated by time and/or space and are not able to meet in a traditional classroom. Remote learning can take many different forms, with very different levels of technology. Reading a book at home and responding by email are forms of remote learning, as is having a fully immersive virtual classroom. Email, Google Docs, conference calls, assigned readings, and video classrooms are all components of remote learning.

remote learning

How will Remote Learning 2.0 be different from the spring?

Remote Learning 2.0, beginning in fall 2020, incorporates feedback from students, faculty, and families to prioritize a rich, student-centered experience and progressive practices.

  • Moving away from emergency remote learning last spring and into remote learning this fall, we will have more diverse methods of academic feedback and assessment and more opportunities for 1:1 connections between students and faculty during advisories and “office hours.” Students in our Middle School and Upper School will receive grades, per our prior practice.

  • We are also developing schedules to balance synchronous and asynchronous learning that prioritize student and faculty interaction, while being mindful of screen time.

  • In consideration of student social-emotional needs, we have prioritized community building and student support in our rollout of the school year, family support, co-curricular opportunities, and the timing of breaks. Implementation varies by division, but common practices include more structured orientation periods at the beginning of the school year, a focus on welcoming new students and families to the school, longer transition times to give students breaks between classes, and building student support periods into the regular schedule for both social and academic check-ins.

  • Students in Pre-K–12th Grade will use a consistent platform, Google Classroom, to access all courses, and this platform will be supplemented with developmentally appropriate learning software at each grade level.

  • Google Meet is releasing new enhancements, including breakout rooms, virtual whiteboards, polling, improved tile layout, and advanced noise cancellation. The Technology Department is improving outreach to students to ensure Google Meet is working as intended on all student devices.

If families choose the fully remote option, can remote students interact with those in the classroom?

Yes, via Google Meet.

If families initially choose the fully remote option, will there be an opportunity to switch to in-person during the year?

Yes, each division has established transition points during the year. The dates for Ethical Culture and Fieldston Lower are:

  • Tuesday 10/13 (after Indigenous Peoples’ Day)

  • Monday 11/30 (after Thanksgiving)

  • Monday 1/4 (after Winter Recess)

The dates for the Middle School and the Upper School are:

  • Monday 10/5: Middle School and Upper School — request due by Tuesday 9/29

  • Monday 11/30: (after Thanksgiving) — request due by Friday 11/20

  • Monday 1/4: (after Winter Recess) — request due by Wednesday 12/16

How will you help families get up to speed with technology?

We will have self-paced family orientations in each division; families also have access to for questions specific to their families throughout the year.