Reopening Our Campus

Joseph D. Allen, Second Headmaster of Nichols School, 1911

Our aim is to train minds, bodies and hearts for the work of life, and to carry into all we do the highest ideals of character and service.
We’ve created this page to serve as a guide and share our preparations for the opening of school. Please check back often as we share more updates and provide new information.
Erie County Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline

Nichols Health Office:
Those under a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travel to high-COVID-19 areas for longer than 24 hours are not allowed to come to Nichols School.


As we prepare for a return to in-person instruction to start the 2020-21 school year, community input is essential to us. Please share your questions and feedback with us as you review this web page and the Nichols School Reopening Plan.

Arriving on Campus

List of 3 items.

  • Middle School Arrival and Departure

    • School opens at 7:30 a.m.
    • Students arriving on buses need to enter through the back door.
    • Those getting dropped off will come in through the Middle School atrium.
    • Anyone entering at either entrance must observe social distancing of at least six feet.
    • Students will be given a limited time at their lockers and need to get to their first period desk as quickly as possible.
    • Faculty will monitor the hallways and locker spaces to enforce social distancing until 8:00 a.m.
    • At the end of the day, students on buses will observe social distancing and walk to the bus pickup area and go home.
    • Those students who are getting picked up will go to the tents in the Quad. Faculty will supervise.
  • Upper School Arrival and Departure

    • Upper School students may arrive beginning at 7:30 a.m., but they are strongly encouraged to arrive beginning at 7:55 a.m.
    • 9th and 10th grade students must arrive by 8:15 a.m.; 11th and 12th grade students do not need to report to campus until their first commitment of the day.
    • 9th and 10th grade students will be assigned to classroom spaces in Mitchell, Albright and Center ‘63 based on advisory. Students assigned to Center ‘63 must enter from the east/gym-side door. Students assigned to Albright must enter from the west/rink-side door. Students assigned to Mitchell must enter from west/turf-facing door.
    • 11th and 12th grade students who arrive before 9:25 a.m. will report to the Student Commons, entering at the main entrance from the Quad. All students will wait in a single-file line, socially distanced, before being admitted into the building. Deans and Administrators will monitor the doors and admit students, checking a live list of Health Screening Forms. Students are to go immediately to their assigned space.
    • From 8:15-9:20 a.m., students may get extra help from faculty members, but appointments must be prearranged and should not last for more than 15 minutes.
    • Members of the Chorus with a scheduled rehearsal will proceed to the tent on Moot Meadow at 8:15 a.m. Members of the Orchestra with a scheduled rehearsal will proceed to the FPAC at 8:15 a.m. Chorus and Orchestra faculty will check for completion of the health screening form.
    • 12th grade students may leave campus after their last commitment. However, they must first check-in with their assigned study hall proctor for attendance.
    • 3:25 p.m. dismissal: Any student who takes a bus will proceed directly to the bus stop and any student being picked up with a middle school sibling will proceed directly to the tents on the quad.
    • 3:30 p.m. dismissal: Any student with a Nichols athletic or dance commitment after school will proceed directly to the location of the activity.
    • 3:35 p.m. dismissal: All other Upper School students will be dismissed and proceed directly to their mode of transportation.
    • Any Upper School student who does not have a ride at the end of the day or an after-school commitment must report to the student commons to await a ride.
  • Spacing on Campus

    Nichols School will reopen at full capacity for in-person instruction, while following CDC, state and local health and safety guidelines and ensuring social distancing best practices. We will utilize all of our large, common spaces around our 30-acre campus including the dining hall, Student Commons, libraries, Flickinger Performing Arts Center, our two gyms, and our ice rink to help spread students and faculty out in order to provide a safe teaching environment. We will utilize several large tents to provide additional open-air spaces for classes to meet, students to gather, and lunch to be served. We will comply with all New York State building codes. We have already measured all existing classroom spaces and designated the capacity for each of our classrooms.

On-Campus Instruction Plans

List of 8 items.

  • Dress Code

    Since a number of classes will be held outdoors or indoors with windows open, and with the changes to our physical education and athletics requirements, a number of dress code changes have been implemented for both the Middle School and Upper School.

    Read More
  • Food Services

    Middle School lunches will be delivered to the Middle School during a single lunch period.

    Students will preorder their food through an order form and enjoy lunch within the classrooms, under our tents, or in our larger, common areas (Middle School Sky Pond, Middle School Pond, Rand Dining Room, or one of our two gyms). All lunch periods will be supervised, and students will be required to remain at least six feet apart while eating.

    There will be three lunch periods for Upper School students (12:10-12:35 p.m., 12:45-1:10 p.m., and 1:25-1:50 p.m.). Students will be assigned lunch periods based on classes, with the Upper School being as equally divided as possible among the three lunch periods. Lunches will be delivered to the lunch-block building by dining services staff. Student dismissal for lunch will be staggered. Students will pick up boxed lunches and eat outside under tents. All students will eat in socially distanced spaces marked out under the tents. Students will be supervised by faculty during lunch periods. Students with medically documented severe outdoor allergies or allergies to stinging insects may request to eat indoors. Students eating indoors will be socially distanced and supervised by faculty. In the case of inclement weather, students will eat in their lunch-block classrooms, socially distanced and supervised.  

    Before lunch, all students will be reminded to perform hand hygiene before and after eating by supervising adults. They will also be reminded that sharing food and beverages is discouraged by supervising adults. Hand hygiene protocol signage will be visible on campus.

    All shared surfaces will be cleaned between lunch periods. If students have eaten inside, all surfaces will be cleaned before the next class period begins.

    Operational SAGE Plan
    • Please click here to view SAGE Dining Services’ operational plan.
  • Indoor Classroom Expectations

    • Students and faculty will use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands before entering an indoor classroom.
    • Faculty will wipe down shared surfaces at the start of each class period.
    • All classrooms will have socially distant, fixed seating arrangements with all students facing in the same direction.
    • Faculty are to remain in a socially distant, fixed location as much as possible.
    • Any movement within a classroom will be coordinated, with health and safety guidelines in mind.
    • Any group work that requires close contact between students will be avoided.
    • Equipment sharing will be minimal. When necessary, equipment will be cleaned between class periods.
    • Weather permitting, windows and doors will be left open throughout the school day, unless they significantly disrupt the learning environment.
  • Outdoor Classroom Expectations

    • Students and faculty will maintain appropriate social distancing.
    • Students may only remove face coverings for brief face covering breaks, when permitted by faculty and appropriately socially distanced.
    • Students may only congregate under tents with a faculty member present.
    • Any movement within the tent will be coordinated, with health and safety guidelines in mind.
    • Any group work that requires close contact between students will be avoided.
  • Expectations of Student Behavior on Campus

    Nichols students will be expected to work with faculty and staff to preserve the health and safety of our school community. Students will:
    • Not congregate before, during or after school in unsupervised areas.
    • Be on time to each class period.
    • Use hand sanitizer or wash hands upon arrival and at the start of each class.
    • Avoid physical contact with other students, especially in hallways.
    • Maintain social distancing when on campus.
    • Not share belongings with others. This includes face coverings, food, and school supplies.
    • Not remove face coverings, unless appropriately socially distanced in a classroom or outdoors.
  • Virtual Instruction

    Nichols families may choose to begin school with full-time online instruction in lieu of on-campus instruction. Symptom-free students who are self-isolating due to a COVID-19 exposure will also be expected to participate in full-time online instruction.

    If you plan to have your child(ren) in a full-time virtual learning setting at home for the first grading period, please reach out to your child(ren)’s Division Head(s) as soon as possible, but ideally no later than Friday, August 21: Paul Errickson in the Middle School (perrickson@nicholsschool.org) and Sarah Jacobson in the Upper School (sjacobson@nicholsschool.org).   

    Students who are at home due to documented illness (for example: a parent or guardian has called the Middle or Upper School Front Office to let the school know their child is home sick) are not expected to participate in full-time online instruction until they are sufficiently recovered to do so.
  • Expectations for Students in Virtual School

    The following expectations apply to students who are participating in classes online while in-person education is continuing on campus.
    • Students are expected to join each class period on time via Zoom for attendance purposes.
    • Students will attend and participate in classes synchronously via Zoom.
    • Faculty may allow students to work asynchronously when appropriate.
    • Students attending Nichols virtually will be held to the same standards set forth in the Student Handbook.
  • More Information

    Please click below for more information pertaining to on-campus instruction from the Nichols School Reopening Plan.
    Read More

Community Health on Campus

List of 3 items.

  • Hygiene, Cleaning and Disinfection

    Throughout the summer, the Nichols School Custodian Department has taken extensive certification classes on cleaning procedures. When cleaning, our staff is trained to wear PPE and use disinfectants effective against the coronavirus per the manufacturer's instructions. We will keep several months of disinfectant supply on our campus for daily cleaning needs.  

    We have a current supply of 10,000 disposable face coverings in storage and 2,600 gloves. We have over 20,000 wipes and will determine appropriate long-term inventory. 

    We are in the process of making the campus touchless, including installing hand sanitizer in entrances, bathroom and other areas as needed. Our paper dispensers, faucet, urinals, toilets are touchless. 

    The Facilities Department will provide alcohol wipes to teachers. Some water fountains will be closed, and push buttons will be replaced by foot press switches, where possible.  

    We have purchased Cordless Electrostatic Disinfectant Handheld battery sprayers for nightly disinfection. Our Facilities Department will be replacing HVAC filters more frequently and with filters with higher filtration ratings.  

    We are also in the process of hiring an additional custodian.  
  • Mental Health and Emotional Support Services

    The Nichols Counselor/Wellness teachers will adapt in-person counseling and classroom Wellness classes to meet New York State guidelines for safety and social distancing from a trauma informed and social emotional learning (SEL) platform. We recognize both students and teachers have and will experience a significant amount of change and are sacrificing “normal” behaviors for the common good. The counselors will collaborate with the school community to provide a safe and trusting environment for all involved.
    Read More
  • PPE and Face Coverings

    All individuals inside Nichols facilities and on Nichols grounds must wear a face covering:
    • Outdoors when social distancing is not possible
    • In hallways
    • In restrooms
    • In classrooms
    • In other close settings
    Students may remove face coverings only when they can maintain a six-foot distance between themselves and anyone else and:
    • They are eating or drinking
    • They are participating in athletics, PE or music outdoors and are socially distanced
    • They are appropriately socially distanced outdoors on a scheduled face covering break
    Only individuals with proper healthcare provider documentation will not be required to wear face coverings. If a student arrives on campus without a face covering, the school will provide an acceptable face covering.
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends reusable face coverings:
    • Fit against the side of the face
    • Cover completely the nose and mouth
    • Are secured with ties or ear loops
    • Allow for breathing without restriction
    • Are washable without causing damage
    Nichols will instruct students and employees on how to use face coverings, including the proper way to wear and discard face coverings, the importance of routine cleaning of reusable face coverings, and the necessity of not sharing face coverings.

Extracurricular Activities

List of 5 items.

  • Extracurricular Clubs and Activities

    Nichols is committed to the continued offering of extracurricular opportunities, including our Robotics Program, Masterminds, Science Olympiad, Mock Trial, Student Council, Art Club, Environmental Club, and our numerous student-led organizations. 

    All extracurricular activities will follow the same expectations as set forth for classroom instruction. Extracurriculars will: 
    • Take place in spaces appropriate to the number of students participating. 
    • Follow social distancing guidelines. 
    • Follow face covering guidelines. 
    • Follow classroom expectations. 
    Students participating in extracurricular activities before or after school may not congregate in spaces without a faculty presence. They are expected to arrive and depart promptly from all meetings. 

    Students attending Nichols virtually will be allowed to participate in extracurriculars at the discretion of the faculty advisor. 
  • Interscholastic Athletics

    Competitive athletics are an integral part of the educational experience at Nichols School. The objective is to get the student-athletes back to competition as quickly as possible while keeping the health and safety of all involved as the top priority. Nichols School will follow the guidelines set by the New York State athletic governing body and will also adhere to the mandates set by state and local health authorities.
    Read More
  • Middle School Aftercare (Bright Place)

    Our top priority at Nichols School is to keep our students safe. One of the ways we do that is to provide students with safe and supervised places to be, such as the Bright Place After-School Program. All social distancing and classroom requirements will be followed in our Bright Place setting.

    All Middle School students remaining on campus who are not involved in a sport or after-school program or club are required to be in Bright Place. Bright Place is available to students every day from 3:30-5:30 p.m.

    Bright Place provides our students with a quiet place to do homework, work on a computer, or hang out with other students. Student accounts are charged monthly for this service.

    When parents come to pick their child up from Bright Place, they should remain in their car in the Middle School parking lot and call the Middle School number (716.332.5100) or text their child to let them know they are at the school. Students will be released from Bright Place in a staggered, socially distanced format.
  • PE and Athletics for Hybrid Model/Remote Learning

    We are prepared to have Nichols students participate in learning both on and off campus at all times for the 2020-2021 school year.
    Read More
  • Physical Education

    All Nichols physical education classes will take place outdoors. The Nichols Physical Education Department will follow the guidelines set by the state and maintain a distance of twelve (12) feet between all students. Teachers will be equipped with headsets and microphones and lessons will be either skill-based or fitness-based. If a ball or other piece of equipment is required, students will be assigned the same piece of equipment to be used for the entirety of the class.

    Until the fall athletic season starts (currently scheduled for September 21) outdoor PE classes will be conducted afterschool for fall sport athletes. After-school classes will follow the same guidelines as physical education classes conducted during the school day. All school equipment that is used in during a PE class will be cleaned thoroughly following the completion of the class.

    Locker rooms will not be used. Students will be expected to arrive at school in clothes that are breathable and non-restrictive. If a change of footwear is required, students can keep their “PE shoes” in a portable backpack/gym bag.

Virtual School Planning

List of 1 items.

  • Nichols Virtual School

    Should the entire Nichols community need to move to virtual instruction, we will continue to follow the same daily schedule and grading policies.

    All students and faculty will begin each class period synchronously via Zoom for attendance and a check-in. Instruction, practice, and assessment will be a mix of synchronous and asynchronous at the discretion of the instructor.

    Nichols faculty have all participated in a three-week course on designing for hybrid learning. Each faculty member will maintain a robust online presence through MySchoolApp that will allow for a seamless movement between in-person and online learning.

From the Health Office

This Guidance for Schools and Childcare Programs web page from the CDC outlines many actions Nichols School community members should keep in mind.

The CDC is also providing numerous resources for families regarding preparation and observation of symptoms.

Read this infographic with guidelines for the "15 Days to Slow the Spread" initiative.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact School Nurse Michelle Derenda via phone at 716.332.5105 or by email at mderenda@nicholsschool.org.

Nichols School Reopening Committee Members

  • Christopher Burner, Head of School
  • Aranya Maritime, Dean of Academics
  • Paul Errickson, Head of Middle School
  • Sarah Jacobson, Head of Upper School
  • Robert Stewart, Director of Athletics
  • Daniel Dolan, Chief Financial Officer
  • Jennifer Clarey, Director of Human Resources
  • Michael Sullivan, Director of Technology
  • Juan Carlos Fontaneda, Director of Facilities
  • Michelle Derenda, School Nurse
  • Jesse Baier, Director of Communications
  • Danielle Vallas, School Licensed Mental Health Counselor
  • Mary Flanigan, School Counselor

Important Fall 2020 Dates

September 2 New Student Orientation (Grades 6-12)
September 3 Grades 5-6 and 9-10 Report to School
September 4   All MS Students and US Students in Grades 11-12 Report to School
September 7 School Closed - Labor Day
September 10   US Parents' Go to School Night, 6:30 p.m.
September 17  MS Parents' Go to School Night, 6:00 p.m.
September 21 Fall Sports Practices Begin
September 28 School Closed - Yom Kippur
October 8 Grade 9 and US New Student Parent/Teacher Conferences, 3:30-8 p.m.
October 12 School Closed - Columbus Day
October 14 PSAT for Grades 9 and 11; Professional Day (No classes for students not taking PSAT)
November 11 School Closed - Veteran's Day
November 20 MS and US Parent Conferences, 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
November 23-24 Professional Days - No Classes
November 25-27 School Closed - Thanksgiving Break
December 18 Holiday Break Begins at End of School Day

Nichols School Core Values

List of 5 items.

  • Pursuit of Excellence

    At Nichols, inspired teachers and students are committed to a quality standard of learning and achievement in all aspects of school life.
  • Integrity of Character

    Our community strives to cultivate each student's sense of responsibility, compassion, honesty, and self-discipline, producing confident and ethical young people.
  • Tradition and Change

    Grounded in the wisdom of the past, we stimulate adaptive and innovative abilities to prepare our students for the future.
  • Rigor and Balance

    Our challenging expectations and structured environment bring out potential. Each student is encouraged to find the balance among academic, artistic, athletic and extra-curricular involvements.
  • Diverse Community

    Nichols School reflects the region's neighborhoods and the wider world, building mutual respect and understanding. In our daily school life, we strive to be a caring community for each individual.

About Us

Nichols School is a nationally recognized college preparatory coed independent school with a 128-year history.