Health & Safety

We aim to develop health and safety protocols that are reasonable, well-timed, and consistent with best practices. Our success at remaining open, teaching in person, and keeping Covid-19 at bay is proof that we can chart the right course for our community. 

We continue to closely watch the case numbers in Boston and across the region. As always, any updates to our health and safety plan will be based upon data and guidelines from a range of sources (the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the City of Boston, the CDC, and the FDA). 

Thank you, as always, for your commitment to the health of our community.


Frequently Asked Questions—Protocols

Last updated 7/25/22. For any additional questions, please contact info@nbss.edu.

Our career training programs and continuing education classes are operating at full capacity, and fully in-person, with sensible precautions in place. Some of these include:

  • Full Covid-19 vaccination required for all students, faculty, and staff, with exemption requests considered in some cases. Boosters are strongly recommended.
  • Masks are currently optional but encouraged at the School.
  • Eating together indoors and outdoors is allowed at this time. Group size may be limited.
  • Staff will be able to make routine visits to program areas.
  • Use of common spaces for meetings, social gathering, organized in-person opportunities, in-person affinity group meetings is allowed. Group size may be limited.
  • Increased use of technology, including remote work, is employed when necessary.
  • Building filtration systems are MERV 14, which can trap smaller particles and viruses. 
  • More frequent professional cleaning, among other disinfection measures, is in place.

Additional details on our protocols are provided below.

NBSS requires vaccination against Covid-19 for all full-time faculty, staff, and students, with reasonable accommodation plans provided in specific circumstances.* Here’s how to affirm your vaccination status:

  • Full-time program and Three-Month Intensive students should provide a copy of their vaccination card (with birth-date redacted) by filling out this certification form
  • Continuing education students must attest to their vaccination status during the class registration process. 
  • Faculty and staff should provide a copy of their vaccination card (with birth-date redacted) to our human resources consultant via hr@nbss.edu.

*Exemption requests to the vaccine are considered on a case-by-case basis for those with a qualifying medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief and practice. Medical exemptions may require a letter from a physician, religious exemptions require a letter from a member of clergy. Additional safety protocols may be required or recommended as appropriate for accommodation. Exemption requests must be submitted one month before starting school, by contacting provost@nbss.edu (students) or hr@nbss.edu (faculty/staff). We may not be able to consider accommodations for those who request one after that date.

Note that exemption requests for Continuing Education students will not be considered, as the School does not have the administrative capacity to undertake this process. The only exception to this rule is for Three-Month Furniture Making Intensive students. In these cases, the same conditions above apply (deadline, additional protocols, etc).

Being fully vaccinated is a baseline requirement and can be reliably tracked. Booster recommendations, on the other hand, differ considerably. There are different guidelines depending on age, the date one first received the vaccine, the amount of time elapsed since the last dose, and other factors (per CDC guidelines). Additionally, some members of our community have been advised by their doctors to delay receiving the booster when they have contracted Covid-19.

Given this variability, we at the School do not have the administrative capacity to monitor and track eligibility regarding a booster requirement.

Yes. We have updated the School’s health and safety protocols to reflect our vaccine requirement for all students, staff, and faculty, and the understanding that the vast majority of our community will be vaccinated as a result.

Masks are optional but encouraged in most circumstances at NBSS, especially when working in close quarters with others. Masks are also encouraged when sick with a cold or other non-Covid illness, to help mitigate community spread.

Masks are required for a period of time in the following circumstances:

  • Close-contact with someone positive for Covid-19: Individuals who are close contacts and asymptomatic must wear a mask at NBSS for ten (10) days following exposure, until cleared by a negative test result.
  • Positive Covid-19 test result: Those who receive a positive test result must wear a mask for five (5) days after returning to the building after quarantine.
  • If advised by the City, Department of Public Health, or by NBSS, in instances of high rate of cases in our building or locally.

Acceptable face coverings include N95, KN95, or KN94 masks, surgical masks, and quality fabric masks. Bandannas and buff/ neck gaiters are not acceptable. Please note that NBSS has a limited number of KN95 masks available, for those who have trouble procuring one on their own.

Requirements for Covid-19 testing vary, based upon illness and exposure, as well as vaccination status. Please see below.

An FDA-authorized Covid-19 test is required for:

  • Any individual (vaccinated or not) who was a close contact of someone with Covid-19. Testing should occur five (5) days after exposure, even if no symptoms are present. The School will provide additional guidelines on quarantine times, masking, and returning to school on a case-by-case basis.
  • Unvaccinated individuals with approved exemptions. Per the guidelines set forth in their accommodation plans, these individuals will need to be tested regularly and at certain times.

Testing is encouraged for:

  • Those with Covid-19-like symptom(s) such as fever, loss of taste/smell, persistent (2-3 days) minor symptoms (headache, sore throat, nausea, congestion), or a combination of minor or major symptoms.
  • Those who were in an enclosed setting with a large group of people.
  • Those who traveled to areas of high incidence of Covid-19.

Testing is not required for:

  • Those who are seeking to return to the building after recently testing positive and quarantine period is complete, unless they develop new symptoms, per CDC guidelines.

Please note: A limited number of self-administered rapid tests are available to our community, on an as-needed basis, at the front desk. Test results can be emailed to info@nbss.edu (staff/faculty) or studentlife@nbss.edu (students), and will be kept confidential.

When a negative Covid-19 test result is required for return to School or work, NBSS accepts any FDA-authorized option. These include:

  • Individual PCR-type tests administered at a Testing Site.
  • At-Home Rapid Tests that you self-administer. Please note that when using a Self/Rapid Test, manufacturer instructions should be followed for serial testing. Two tests over three days are the standard in many home tests. An initial negative test result is sufficient for return-to-School if asymptomatic, but the second test should be completed within the timeframe given.

  • Boston and other communities across Massachusetts have recently expanded PCR testing locations and hours. View a list of free, no-appointment-necessary sites in Boston
  • At-Home Rapid tests are available for purchase at your local pharmacy and online. There are also a limited number of free rapid tests available at some community locations, via the USPS, or via the Commonwealth.
  • In the event you are required to test by NBSS (due to an exposure or another reason), and if you can not find a test in a suitable time frame, the School will have a limited number of rapid tests on hand for your use.

Other Testing Resources

If any person at NBSS (faculty or staff member, student, instructor, or vendor) is diagnosed as Covid-19 positive, the School will follow the procedures listed below, which allow for a quick assessment and response.

  • We will advise the person who tested positive of our requirements for quarantine, masking, and other similar protocols. We will also support them as they work remotely, if able to do so, or to make up missed work if necessary.
  • We will notify by email all those who are known to have had close contact with the individual who is diagnosed as Covid-19 positive. The email will provide guidelines as to next steps depending on the condition and vaccination status of those involved. No personal information will be provided per federal privacy standards.

Please note: each situation will follow these general procedures, but additional or alternative protocols may be used to address the specificity of any instance.

In an effort to keep our community as healthy, safe, and productive as possible, we ask that you immediately notify your instructor or supervisor so we can respond appropriately. Note that the response required will be based on the length and condition of exposure, your and the other individual’s vaccination statuses, and a number of other factors.

In certain circumstances, we may require that you get tested at a Covid-19 Testing Site near you five (5) days after your exposure using an FDA-authorized test. You may be required to produce a negative result prior to returning to School.

As always, you should also review the recommendations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Health and safety guidelines are regularly updated, and may depend on your unique situation, including vaccination status.

  • As in all cases when you are experiencing symptoms of a contagious illness, you should stay home and let your instructor or supervisor know you’ll be out. The first priority is your health, and we will work with you to find ways to make up for any missed time.
  • If you have fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of Covid-19, please let us know and seek prompt medical evaluation by a healthcare professional. Depending on their advice, you may or may not need to be tested.
  • If you receive a positive diagnosis for Covid-19, please let us know. We will then provide further guidelines as to any quarantine and your return to School.

For more information, review the recommendations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control if you have concerns about Covid-19.

If you test positive for Covid-19, please follow these guidelines:

  • Notify your instructor, supervisor, and/or the Provost office of your status.
  • Stay home and self-isolate. Before you can return to NBSS, at least five (5) days must have passed since the date of your positive test result. Even if vaccinated and asymptomatic, you can not return to NBSS until after this length of time.
  • Any fever must have been absent for at least 24 hours (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers).
  • Other symptoms must have improved (for example when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)

We look forward to welcoming you back to the School when you’re ready. Please keep us informed of how you’re doing. As always, follow the advice of a medical professional and take good care of yourself.

Yes. There are no Covid-19 related restrictions on visitors or groups at this time. 

Per our standard policies, staff and faculty may bring guests to visit program areas as part of their regular day-to-day work. Students who want to bring guests into their programs should seek guidance from their department head.

Yes. The School began hosting in-person public events again in May 2022. We also began providing space for private events by outside organizations that same month. When possible, we will provide virtual options for events, exhibitions, and so on.

We no longer have travel or large gathering restrictions for vaccinated individuals. We encourage our staff, faculty, and students to be cautious at large gatherings or when traveling to areas of high risk for Covid-19, to respect the safety of others in the NBSS community.

Per the CDC, you are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine, or
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series, or
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an accepted Covid-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a clinical trial, or
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted Covid-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart*
  • If you don’t meet these requirements, you are NOT considered fully vaccinated. A booster dose is not needed to meet this requirement.

Note that a person who has received only one dose of an accepted 2-dose series and has recovered from Covid-19 does not meet this definition, and therefore is NOT considered fully vaccinated.

Self-isolate (also known as self-quarantine or quarantine) means you should stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work, classes, events, or other social gatherings. To the extent possible, do not use public transportation (airplanes, buses, trains) or ride-shares until you are told it is safe to return to normal activities by your medical provider.

A close contact is someone with whom you have been within six feet of for at least 10-15 minutes while symptomatic or within 48 hours before symptom onset. A close contact can also be someone who had direct contact with the droplets of a Covid-19 case (e.g., being coughed on) while not wearing a mask or face covering.

Note that this definition may be updated in light of recent developments, such as the Delta variant. Please review current CDC guidelines to stay informed.

Full-Time Training

Programs that practice field work, such as Carpentry and Preservation Carpentry, are expected to follow all of the same health and safety protocols as they do at NBSS, even though they are not in the building.

We will work with students to make sure that any absence due to your illness or self-isolation doesn’t affect you adversely. The first priority is your health.

We understand that instruction at NBSS is hands-on and space/machine dependent. Your instructor will work with you to find ways to make up for any missed work, and how to make your time out of class as productive as possible. This may include suggested tasks like drawing, researching, or reading, communicating via email, viewing online videos, etc. Since every situation will be different, instructors will tailor their approach to their program specifically.

Please contact your instructor. As each situation will be different, they will work with you on leave options, and any special steps or accommodations needed to keep our community healthy.

We will communicate any closure—as well as the reason and any plans for reopening—through email and this website primarily, and possibly via text as well.

Continuing Education Classes

As of January 1, 2022 all Continuing Education students and instructors who participate in an in-person class must follow the protocols outlined below. Note that these are the same policies that apply to our Full-Time students, faculty, and staff.

  • Vaccination: Full Covid-19 vaccination is required of all CE students and instructors.* When registering for a course, you will be asked to confirm all attendees are fully vaccinated (either two does of Pfizer/Moderna, or one dose of J&J). Attendees may be required to show proof of vaccination on their first day of class.
  • Masks: Masks are optional for vaccinated individuals while at NBSS, or at School-sponsored events. Unvaccinated individuals should wear a mask at all times.
  • Testing: We do not require regular testing of students and instructors, as they are all fully vaccinated. View our general Health & Safety Plan above for more information about testing when ill or exposed.

Please view our Health & Safety Plan above for more information on our School protocols. For any questions, please contact ce@nbss.edu.

* Note: Vaccine exemption requests may be considered for Three-Month Intensive students only, on a case-by-case basis, for those with a qualifying medical condition or sincerely held religious belief and practice. Medical exemptions may require a letter from a physician, religious exemptions require a letter from a clergy member. Requests must be received one month before the start of class. Contact ce@nbss.edu for more information.

In the event you can’t attend class due to illness, please let us know immediately by emailing ce@nbss.edu. Due to the variety of conditions under which this may take place (timing, class length and duration, symptoms, etc), all instances of illness will be handled on an individual basis. In general, we will adhere to our standard refund policies, but we recognize this is an uncertain time and will work with you on a case-by-case basis.

Should you receive a positive Covid-19 test result and can’t attend class, please let us know immediately by emailing ce@nbss.edu. Due to the variety of conditions under which this may take place (timing, class length and duration, symptoms, etc), all instances will be handled on an individual basis.

In the event a CE instructor cannot teach class due to Covid-19, we will contact all registered students immediately and let them know of the class status: whether it is canceled, will be rescheduled, and/or will be taught by a different instructor.

In general, we will adhere to our standard refund policies, but we recognize this is an uncertain time and will work with you on a case-by-case basis.

Cancellations requests, for any reason, received at least seven (7) days before the class start date will be refunded less a $25.00 fee. Refunds are not given for cancellations received within seven (7) days of the class start time, or anytime after the class starts. Registrations are non-transferable and NBSS does not issue credits. For online classes with kits, the cost of the kit is non-refundable.

Note that cancellation policies for our Three-Month Furniture Making Intensive are listed separately, due to the nature of the course.

Working at NBSS

As in all cases when you are experiencing symptoms of a contagious illness, you should stay home, let your supervisor know you’ll be out, and follow the advice of your medical professional.

Refer to the “Illness” section above for detailed actions to take in the event you are diagnosed with Covid-19. Please see the employee handbook for additional details and policy addenda on absences and missed work.

Please contact your supervisor. As each situation will be different, they will work with you on leave options, and any special steps or accommodations needed to keep our community healthy.

Review the employee handbook for additional details and policy addenda in light of Covid-19.

Please contact your supervisor. As each situation will be different, they will work with you on leave options, and any special steps or accommodations needed to keep our community healthy.

Review the employee handbook for additional details and policy addenda in light of Covid-19.

Yes, if you are self-isolating but not actively sick, you are expected to work from home. Please discuss options with your supervisor, including remote access, conference calls, etc. Work that cannot be done remotely will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Faculty and instructors should privately check in with the student exhibiting illness, and please ask them to leave class and make arrangements to see a medical professional. Please let Claire Fruitman or Marc Dreyfus know so they can follow up, if needed.

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