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Reentry Town Hall Summaries & FAQs

Akiba-Schechter Reentry Committee

July 22 Town Hall Summary


(Summaries of July 8/9 and July 16 Town Halls are below.)


Please note:

  • Next week’s Town Hall meeting with the Reentry Committee will be for Staff only. We will resume the Parent Town Hall meetings during the week of August 3. Check your email soon for the exact day/time and Zoom link.

  • We are watching other private schools roll out their reentry plans and we saw CPS’s plan. We continue to feel quite privileged to have all of you as our partners, to be a small school, and to be able to even have discussions about reentering the school building. We are optimistic that working together and having everyone sign on to our social contract will allow us to be together.


TO PREVENT COVID FROM ENTERING AKIBA:

  • Bus Plans

  • Thank you to all who completed the Bus survey.

  • Because the school day begins for many of our students when they enter a school bus, we are taking great care to extend our safety plans and expectations to the bus as well as the building.

  • Every student will have completed the daily health screening (and screened negative) before boarding the school bus. Please note, if your children are capable of walking alone to the bus stop, they are capable of walking back home alone if they do not have a completed health screen.

  • Students will wear masks and have assigned seats on the bus, and we will be attentive to the need for safe and physical distance.

  • We are considering running more buses from our farther out neighborhoods (Skokie and West Rogers Park) to allow for better physical distance if needed.

  • More details about bus stops and a special Bus Family Town Hall is forthcoming.


TO MINIMIZE THE TRANSMISSION OR SPREAD of COVID INSIDE AKIBA:

  • FACE COVERINGS: Everybody in our buildings and on our buses will wear a mask.

  • Preschool through 2nd graders may choose among gaiters, 2-ply, or 3-ply cloth or disposable face masks.

  • 3rd/4th graders must wear either 2-ply or 3-ply cloth or disposable face masks. No gaiters.

  • You must wear a fresh (new disposable or cleaned cloth) mask everyday

  • You will be responsible for washing the masks

  • Middle Schoolers and all Staff must wear a 3-ply cloth or disposable face mask.

  • Masks are available on Amazon, at Old Navy, Target, Walgreens, Home Depot, Athleta...

  • Order or purchase masks sooner rather than later to find one that works for you


Your Questions and Our Answers from July 22

(answers are, of course, subject to change)



  1. Can the mask you wear on the bus be the mask you wear into school that day? The mask you wear to the bus stop or to school should be changed out for a fresh mask to be worn on the bus and/or in the building for the day.

  2. Does my child(ren) have to wear a new mask everyday? We recommend that cloth face masks be washed after being worn for a day. So get a bunch.

  3. Are there Marla’s lunch credits from the time we closed in the spring? If you believe you have Marla’s Lunch credits from last spring, please reach out to Marla’s Lunch via email and cc Jill Kohl.

  4. If a family member is exposed to someone positive, does the whole family need to quarantine? If you are exposed (unmasked and within 6 feet for over 15 minutes) to someone who has tested positive for COVID once that person tested positive or within the two days before the test, you will need to quarantine for two weeks. Not yet certain if your whole family will need to quarantine. Stay tuned.

  5. Are the members of the re-entry committee available in person or virtually to have these tough personal conversations? Yes. Please reach out to us directly.

Alicia Chipman, Director of Teaching and Learning

Carla Goldberg, Early Childhood Director

Miriam Kass, Principal

Jill Kohl, Director of Operations

Dr. Dana Schinasi, Pediatric Emergency Attending Physician, Lurie Hospital

Dr. Elisheva Shanes, Assistant Professor of Pathology, Northwestern Medicine

Heather Waitzman, Director of Student Services

  1. Will you give parents the option to choose in-person versus online learning? We know that the decision about how to connect and engage in our learning programs this year is complicated for some families. Carla, Miriam, and Heather are ready to discuss individual needs and do everything we can to make in-person and/or online learning work for your child(ren). Please reach out to us.

  2. How are we addressing/prepping for student anxiety regarding physical distancing, mask wearing, changes in routine? We are dedicating two Town Hall sessions on August 13 to this very topic. 7-8pm will have an Early Childhood focus; 8-9pm will focus on older children.

  3. Is it a good idea to have in-room air purifiers in addition to an upgraded HVAC filter? We are looking into this.

  4. How are the lockers going to be assigned with distancing in mind? We will assign every other locker at most. And we will be visiting them sparingly and in a careful way.






Akiba-Schechter Reentry Committee

July 16 Town Hall Summary

(Summary of July 8 & 9 Town Hall is below, in blue.)


Our approach continues to be broken down into three areas: prevent COVID from entering Akiba, minimize the transmission or spread of COVID inside Akiba, and ensure prompt and transparent communication in the event of an outbreak.


TO PREVENT COVID FROM ENTERING AKIBA:

  • Health Self Assessment (or Screening Form) must be completed daily before entering the bus or the building. The purpose of the Form is to “over capture” any symptoms.

  • We should all anticipate needing to stay home more often this coming year due to screening positive even though we may not be ill

  • Screening Form will ask: In the past 24 hours, have you had any of the following symptoms?

  • A fever 100.3 and above

  • A new cough or worsening cough

  • Diarrhea or vomiting

  • Fever reducing medication within the last 24 hours

  • Loss of taste or smell

  • Exposure to someone who has COVID

  • Screening Form will need to be filled out for each child/staff member BEFORE entering the building or getting on the bus. We are working on what format the Form will take.

  • Bus - Jill Kohl is working with the bus company on social distancing, mask compliance, sanitization and safety.


TO MINIMIZE THE TRANSMISSION OR SPREAD of COVID INSIDE AKIBA:

  • The preschool office suite and reception area will be our Mirpa’ah (health center). Should students feel sick during the school day, they will be in the Mirpa’ah until they can be picked up. Miriam Friedman-Parks and Jill Kohl will work from that office space.

  • Class cohorts and locations to support need for physical distance

  • Preschool & Kdg Classrooms still TBD

  • 1st/2nd Grade class (18 students and 2 teachers) will be located on the first floor in the former staff lounge and Glick Library/Makerspace; they will have ample space to spread out

  • 3rd/4th Grade class (22 students) will be divided into two cohorts and have all of their classes in either room 201 or 202 (west end of the 2nd floor hallway)

  • Middle School classes will be in small cohorts in rooms 204-209 (east side of the 2nd floor hallway) with teachers switching rooms as needed





Your Questions and Our Answers from July 16

(answers are, of course, subject to change)


  1. Will you speak about tuition, please? If you go online, will tuition be discounted? We know that tuition is expensive and how hard many families work to afford it. We understand that this pandemic has caused financial strain for many, and to continue to pay tuition even more sacrifices may be necessary. We ask that families whose financial situation has changed due to COVID to please reach out to us at covidbilling@asjds.org to discuss how we can support you. Please know that whether we are in school in-person or in school online, our costs do not change; our teachers and staff are working just as hard, if not twice or three times as hard to ensure plans for every possible scenario. We do not plan to change the tuition.

  2. How will there be special programs like the Buddy Program, Preschool Shabbat, and more? We are working on innovative ways to keep special events and programs happening. We are committed to staying true to what makes Akiba special in every way possible and finding new ways, too.

  3. Will there still be mixed age groupings/cohorts in the grade school? Yes.

  4. Which masks will be acceptable? Everyone in the building must wear a face covering.

  5. Preschool through 2nd graders may choose among gaiters, 2-ply, or 3-ply cloth or disposable face masks. (new decision as of 7/20/20)

  6. 3rd/4th graders must wear either 2-ply or 3-ply cloth or disposable face masks. No gaiters. (new decision as of 7/20/20)

  7. Middle Schoolers and all Staff must wear a 3-ply cloth or disposable face mask.

  8. If a child has to stay home, but is feeling okay will there be virtual classes they can attend? Yes, we are working to set up distance learning for children who need to stay home.

  9. What is the fever number and policy? 100.3 and above is a fever. We will not dictate how parents decide that their child has a fever.

  10. Will students stay in one location? Yes, the students will stay in their classroom or outside for most of the day. We will do our best to minimize the number of people the children are exposed to. They will not travel throughout the building from class to class as they’ve done in the past.

  11. We heard there will not be After School Programs. Will there be Kids Club, Homework Help & Late Pick-Up? There will be NO LATE BUS and NO outside vendors coming into the school. Kids Club, Homework Help and Late Pick Up are still TBD.

  12. Will art supplies be shared? Each student will have their own packet of art supplies.









Akiba-Schechter Reentry Committee

July 8 & 9 Town Hall Summary


WHAT WE KNOW:

  • Reentry Committee Members:

  • Alicia Chipman, Director of Teaching and Learning

  • Carla Goldberg, Early Childhood Director

  • Miriam Kass, Principal

  • Jill Kohl, Director of Operations

  • Dr. Dana Schinasi, Pediatric Emergency Attending Physician at Lurie Children’s Hospital and mom of two LS students

  • Dr. Elisheva Shanes, Assistant Professor of Pathology at Northwestern Medicine and mom of two current MS students and one class of 2020 graduate

  • Heather Waitzman, Director of Student Services


  • We believe that our children will benefit most from being in school with their teachers and peers. A well-articulated recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics supports this view.

  • Our committee and our staff are working very hard to design thoughtful and careful plans to ready us for the first day of school for K-8 on August 31, and a week of orientation for Preschool starting on August 31. These plans will need to make us as nimble as possible as we may have to return to Akiba Atmosphere at some point(s) during the school year.

  • At this time, it is our intention to open for in-person school. We believe we will provide a safe plan built on the trust and faith we have in you: our students, parents, and staff. Thank you for your patience as our terrific team works to refine our plans for in-person, online and hybrid learning models in light of updated information and input from you and others.

  • If we are open, we will run buses, but not the Late Bus. Plans for appropriate safety measures on the buses are underway.

  • We will keep a close eye on the virus data and every guideline for schools from the CDC, the Illinois Dept of Public Health, the Illinois School Board of Education, and the City of Chicago Dept of Public Health.

  • Depending on the data, the Governor may preempt our decision between now and August 31 and prevent us from opening in person. Because we are a small school with wonderfully supportive parents and staff, our plans may diverge from the local public school systems and other private schools.

  • Our administrators are collaborating regularly with colleagues from peer institutions locally and around the world to stay on top of the evolving list of best practices.

  • This is a very stressful time for all of us. We are preparing mental health and other resources to support our students, staff and families during this difficult year. More on this later, but in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of us if you need help.




TO PREVENT COVID FROM ENTERING AKIBA:

  • All members of the ASJDS community will need to attend a (yet to be scheduled) Mandatory Town Hall Meeting in August to learn about the Social Contract. The Social Contract will include expectations for adhering to city and state guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID including social distancing, mask wearing, good hygiene, and staying home when symptomatic.

  • All members of the ASJDS community must sign the Social Contract.

  • Before entering the bus or school buildings every single day, every student and staff member must complete and be prepared to share a self-assessment.

  • The self-assessment tool will ask whether within the past 24 hours you, or someone in your household, has experienced a series of symptoms (still being finalized) or come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID. Depending on the outcome of the self-assessment, the student/staff member may be told to stay home and/or to contact their doctor. (More detailed plans still being finalized).

  • Remote learning (and teaching) will be accommodated as much as possible should a student or staff member screen positive and need to be at home. Plans for this are being developed.

  • Every person entering the Akiba buses or buildings will wear a mask.

  • Middle Schoolers and adults must wear a three-layer face mask either disposable or cloth. Not a gaiter. Not a bandana or scarf.

  • Specific younger student mask requirement TBD


TO MINIMIZE THE TRANSMISSION OR SPREAD INSIDE AKIBA

  • Again, every person in the buses or buildings will wear a mask at all times.

  • Sanitizing stations will be affixed to the walls outside every classroom, bathroom and beside every entry door.

  • Students will be exposed to as few people as possible and remain in a small cohort for the bulk of the school day.

  • Within the school, we will remain physically distant as much as possible and require frequent hand washing or sanitizing.

  • The preschool office suite and reception area will be our Mirpa’ah (health center). Should students be sick during the school day, they will be in the Mirpa’ah until they can be picked up. Miriam Friedman-Parks and Jill Kohl will work from that office space.

  • We have upgraded our cleaning efforts and added staff, time, and resources to this important task. Because of the need to sanitize the building every night, we will be unable to host the After School Programs we have had in the past. (We have not yet decided how Homework Help, Kids Club, and Late Pick-Up will be affected. Stay tuned.)

  • We are upgrading the filters in our ventilation systems, and we will open windows and doors as much as possible.

  • Students will eat lunch in their classrooms or outside in their small cohorts, with the exception of our younger students who leave at 12pm; they will not eat lunch at school.

  • Yes, Marla’s Lunch program will still be available and delivered to classrooms.

  • The water fountains will not be turned on. We are looking into touchless water bottle refill stations.

  • We will not use the classrooms in Rodfei Zedek.

  • Music and Gym classes will have to look very different. TBD


TO ENSURE PROMPT ACTION AND TRANSPARENT COMMUNICATION IN THE EVENT OF AN OUTBREAK

  • We will continue Town Halls with regularity throughout the summer weeks leading up to school, and throughout the school year.

  • Plans are being developed for how we will clearly communicate and to whom when a member of our community develops COVID. Stay tuned.


Your Questions and Our Answers from July 8/9

(answers are, of course, subject to change)

  1. Do siblings have to stay home if one child is symptomatic? Yes.

  2. What about asymptomatic children? It is common for children to present this way. They are also less likely to transmit the virus. We believe wearing masks, sanitizing, and keeping as socially distant as possible will be sufficient risk minimizers at this time.

  3. Will students be in school some days each week and then at home for others, or have one week on and some weeks off as other schools have announced? No, we are planning for all children to be in school everyday.

  4. Will parents be screened as well? Parents will be included in the daily screening for the students because it asks if anyone in your household has experienced these symptoms in the past 24 hours.

  5. Will parents be allowed in the building? No, parents will not be allowed in the building, with very rare exceptions.

  6. Will teachers be tested? At this time, due to the high rates of false negatives, we do not believe testing is a useful tool to require.

  7. Will siblings be in the same cohort? Not necessarily.

  8. What is the fever free protocol for returning to school? We are reviewing the protocol already in place (24 hours fever-free without the help of a fever-reducing medication).

  9. If families travel out of state will they have to quarantine? Our Social Contract will expect families to abide by the current guidelines and expectations in our state and city. At this time, for example, if you return to Chicago from some states, you are expected to self-quarantine for 14 days.

  10. What will physical contact between children and teacher look like? We are considering additional protective wear for teachers of young children because we know that physical contact is a necessary part of those relationships.

  11. How will you enforce mask wearing? Because it is a state requirement that everybody in a school must wear a mask, and because we understand that mask wearing is the greatest way to protect one another, we will require everyone to wear a mask at all times inside and outside when social distance is difficult. If a student is struggling to keep the mask on, she/he will be brought to the Mirpa’ah or Carla’s office. We know that wearing a mask will take some getting used to and we recommend that you practice over the summer!

  12. Will teachers get enough sick leave and so be able to stay at home if needed? Thank you for thinking of our staff. And yes, we have added paid sick days this year. And we will reevaluate this as the year progresses to be sure that staff can be home if necessary.

  13. What are the expectations for social distancing in the lower grades? We do not expect our younger students to adhere to strict 6 feet apart social distancing. We will put our emphasis on enforcing the daily self-assessment, mask wearing, and hand sanitizing, and reduce the number of people each child is exposed to.

  14. What concerns, if any, have teachers and staff expressed about returning? Thank you for thinking of our staff. We surveyed our staff and we have been meeting with them on a weekly basis this summer. All are missing the students. Many are eager to return to school and feel supported and comfortable with the plans we have shared so far. There are a couple of staff members who, for reasons of higher risk in their household, may elect to work from home and this is something we are prepared to accommodate as much as possible. Staff is optimistic that our strong community, our Social Contract, the daily self-assessment, mask wearing, and the fact that our students really want to be at school will all contribute to students being compliant and cooperative.

  15. What will happen if someone does not respect the protocols or Social Contract? Of course we will look at each situation carefully, but we are not afraid of removing a student or family or staff member from the community, either temporarily or permanently, in the event of non-compliance.

  16. Are you going to make a potential vaccine mandatory when/if accessible? YES. All recommended vaccinations are required to attend Akiba. No exceptions.

  17. Did you consider some kind of open “tent” to allow more classes and activities to happen outdoors? We are looking into “tenting” parts of our outdoor space.

  18. Will teachers be able to change diapers? Yes.

What can parents do to constructively assist teachers and administration in preparing for children to return to school? How can we help? Thank you for asking! Reading our communications is a good first step. Attending the optional Town Halls and/or sending emails to the committee members with your questions or suggestions is always welcome. Practicing wearing a mask and sanitizing/washing hands well (all ages) will help. Please reach out to Carla for more ideas about how to practice these important things with your young children.

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Summer 2020 Update #3

Dear Parents, We hope you and your family are continuing to find ways to enjoy this summer and stay healthy. Please make a note of these updates and don't hesitate to reach out to us. Required Schoo

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Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School is affiliated with the Associated Talmud Torahs, the Board of Jewish Education of Chicago, and is a beneficiary of the Kehillah Jewish Education Fund of Chicago. Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community.