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Coronavirus Update – April 20, 2022

Update from April 20, 2022

Dear JCDSRI Families,

We are writing to provide some important updates and reminders re: COVID. Please read this email thoroughly, as it contains important information about your child’s return to school. 

A reminder that we will be transitioning into the new phase of our masking policy at JCDSRI beginning May 2, when mask wearing for all students, faculty, staff, and family and community members visiting our school will become optional. Some members of our community will choose to wear masks beyond May 2 and we are grateful that – as a community of care – we are invested in honoring each others’ choices. 

In preparation for this change, we are asking that every child take a rapid at-home COVID test before returning from vacation to school on Monday, April 25 (only positive test results should be shared with the school; we ask that you keep your child home if they test positive OR if they show any symptoms of illness of any kind.) 

We recently have been informed that a number of our students, faculty, and staff have tested positive for COVID over vacation, hence it being even more important that we remain masked for a week after vacation and that every member of our community entering school after vacation take a rapid test. 

We want to share a few other reminders and considerations about the new health and safety practices at JCDSRI:

  • We are hearing from other schools that removing masks does increase the presence of other illnesses at school. We expect that the natural spread of viruses will continue to make the rounds, so many of our multiple risk mitigation layers will remain in place (for details, see below). Please review the “JCDSRI Family Handbook” (found in the Parent Portal of our website) for our illness policies. Note that a student must be fever-free (without medication) and/or on antibiotics for 24-hours before returning to school. 

  • We anticipate that children of different ages will have various thoughts and feelings about taking masks off. Many students will need time to acclimate to seeing a wider variety of expressions from their friends. We will be speaking with our students about how they are feeling about a mask-optional school environment and remind them that this will be an adjustment for us all. These conversations afford us yet another opportunity to talk to our students about what it means to build – and sustain – a diverse, pluralistic, healthy, and democratic community. 

  • Per Rhode Island Department of Health guidance, we will no longer be contact tracing as part of our regular process, but if there is a concern about an outbreak of COVID, we may conduct contact tracing and require testing and short-term masking for affected groups at school. At this stage of the pandemic, we should consider that we may always be exposed to COVID – both in and out of school – so we ask that you join us in monitoring your child’s health and continue home testing when symptomatic.

  • If you suspect your child has been exposed to COVID – or may be ill with COVID – we ask that you test them and that they remain out of school until you receive a negative result. 

  • We will continue to require a 5-day isolation period for any child or adult in our school who tests positive for COVID; they must remain masked at school for an additional 5 days. 

  • Students in our Nitzanim and Ilanot programs will also be mask optional starting on May 2. A separate communication was sent to our Nitzanim and Ilanot families earlier today informing them of this decision.

Although JCDSRI will become mask-optional beginning May 2, we will continue to follow current safely measures, including:

  • Daily professional cleaning and sanitization of all indoor spaces

  • Use of air purifiers, as well as continuing to keep windows open so that there is appropriate air flow

  • Utilization of our outdoor learning spaces

  • The close monitoring of student, faculty, and staff wellness. Please note that students may not attend school (or will immediately be sent home from school) if they exhibit any symptoms of illness. If your child is fever-free for 24 hours and their symptoms have significantly improved, they may return to school. We may require them to continue wearing a mask until they are completely asymptomatic. We also reserve the right to send a child home if we determine that they are too ill to remain at school or if there are concerns that they may be infecting others.  

The Task Force will continue to evaluate our safety measures and monitor trends on a regular basis. Doing so will allow us to respond in a timely and responsible manner to changing conditions at JCDSRI and in our local area, and adjust our safety protocols, as necessary.

On behalf of all the members of the Task Force, I want to thank you in advance for your trust, understanding, and commitment to the well-being of our entire community.

Andrea Katzman
Head of School
 

Update from January 9, 2022

Dear JCDSRI Families –

As many of you are aware, the CDC and RI Department of Health (and Education) have released new guidelines for K-12 schools. In light of their announcement, the Task Force met this morning and made the following decisions:  

  • We will continue to require 10 days of isolation for any child or teacher/staff member who has tested positive for COVID

  • We will adopt a “monitor to stay” policy for all vaccinated and unvaccinated students who are identified as close-contacts in school. That means that if your child has had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID, they may remain in school as long as they are asymptomatic. 

  • Due to our adoption of a “monitor to stay” policy, monitoring for symptoms is even more important than ever. Children may not come to school – or will be sent home – if they have any symptoms of COVID – no matter how mild (this includes a minor headache, a runny nose, a stomach ache, a slight cough, etc.) Children must receive a negative PCR test in order to return.

We want to acknowledge that as this pandemic surges and guidelines continue to shift, confusion and frustrations are increasing. As such, we are so grateful for your patience – and your understanding that every decision the Task Force makes is with the goal of keeping your children physically at school – and safe, loved, and connected.  

The JCDSRI COVID Task Force 

Mara Ostro (Chair)

Dr. Nate Beraha

Dr. Lesley Landau

Representative Rebecca Kislak

Jill Davis

Erika Rusley

Harshita Lakhiani

Anthony Bucci 

Donna Baer (COVID Coordinator)

Andrea Katzman

Update from December 31, 2021

 

Dear JCDSRI Families –

Only a few more days until school begins – and I’m really excited! In the meantime, I want to offer one last reminder about COVID protocols:

  1. Required Testing: Every student must take a PCR test at some point between now and Tuesday, January 4, regardless of vaccination status (please note that testing sites are closed 12/31 & 01/01). If you haven’t yet made an appointment, do it NOW (there are only a few slots left!) and remember that it helps to create an account for your child(ren) on the State COVID testing site.

  2. Please note that the test results are not required in order for your child to return to school (only the test is mandatory). Please send the results when you receive them to Donna at dbaer@jcdsri.com

  3. Proof of vaccination: If your child has received their second dose of the COVID vaccine, please send either a picture or a copy of the card ASAP to Donna. 

  4. Be EXTRA cautious in the days before school begins: The new COVID variant spreads easily – even with safeguards in place – and as a result, cases in RI are rising daily (as are hospitalizations, including in pediatric wards). Therefore, we ask that even if you or your child are vaccinated, please continue wearing masks and limit attendance at large gatherings (and if you choose to attend large gatherings -particularly those indoors and/or ones that don’t require masks – you must follow our quarantine protocols; see below). 

  5. Consider wearing surgical paper masks: There is increasing evidence that surgical paper masks are more effective than cloth ones; see this article for mask options for adults and children. 

Below is a review of our protocols in regards to fully vaccinated, as well as unvaccinated, students:

Fully vaccinated children (2 weeks out from second shot):

Close contact with someone who has COVID: 

  • They may remain in school as long as they are asymptomatic

  • They must be tested the day they are exposed — and then again 5 days after exposure

  • If they have symptoms of COVID, they must immediately isolate and get tested. They may not return to school until they are asymptomatic – and receive a negative PCR test

  • If the PCR test result is positive, they must isolate at home for 10 days

Travel: 

  • Students do NOT need to get tested or self-quarantine if they are fully vaccinated (or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) – as long as they are traveling within the United States

  • They should be monitored for COVID symptoms 

  • They should isolate and get tested immediately if they develop symptoms (see above)

Unvaccinated children: 

Close-Contact:

  • Immediately take a PCR test and then quarantine at home

  • Take a PCR test on the 5th day after exposure AND monitor for symptoms for an additional 2 days (7 days total)

Travel: 

  • Take a PCR test on the 5th day after returning home AND monitor for symptoms for an additional 2 days (7 days total). Please read previous emails on our website for more details

In peace,

Andrea

Update from December 14, 2021

Dear JCDSRI Families –

As we prepare for our winter break, I want to again share some reminders with you about our COVID policies, as well as our expectations before school begins in January. 

Before I do so, however, I want to acknowledge that as the pandemic lingers, people’s frustrations are understandably increasing (and this is just exacerbated by delayed lab results and children having to stay home due to a minor sniffle!) I also recognize that our COVID policies, while effective, can be inconvenient and even disruptive for some families.

I continue to feel deep sadness for the ways in which this pandemic has impacted all of you, in both large and small ways. I humbly ask for your continued patience and trust. Every decision we make is so that we can (to the best of our abilities) keep your children physically at our school – safe, engaged, loved, and connected.  

Now for the copious amounts of information I promised you! Please read through the entire email carefully: 

  • Proof of vaccination: If your child has received their second dose of the COVID vaccine, please send either a picture or a copy of the card ASAP to our COVID coordinator, Donna Baer. Please note that at this point in time, only 31% of our student body is fully vaccinated. 

  • Required Testing: We are mandating that every student receive a PCR test at some point between Friday, December 31 and Tuesday, January 4, regardless of vaccination status. Please note that the test results are not required in order for your child to return to school. 

  • Stringent protocols: As an elementary school with an early childhood program, we will continue to have children who are ineligible for vaccinations. Our stringent protocols exist in order to keep all our students and families safe. 

Below is a review of our protocols in regards to fully vaccinated, as well as unvaccinated, students:

Fully vaccinated children (2 weeks out from second shot):

Close contact with someone who has COVID

  • They may remain in school as long as they are asymptomatic
  • They must be tested the day they are exposed — and then again 5 days after exposure
  • If they have symptoms of COVID, they must immediately isolate and get tested. They may not return to school until they are asymptomatic – and receive a negative PCR test (rapid tests are still proving to be unreliable and as such, will NOT be accepted).
  • If the PCR test result is positive, they must isolate at home for 10 days.

Travel: 

  • Students do NOT need to get tested or self-quarantine if they are fully vaccinated (or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) – as long as they are traveling within the United States
  • They should be monitored for COVID symptoms 
  • They should isolate and get tested immediately if they develop symptoms (see above)

Unvaccinated children: 

Close-Contact:

  • Immediately take a PCR test and then quarantine at home
  • Take a PCR test on the 5th day after exposure AND monitor for symptoms for an additional 2 days (7 days total)

Travel: 

  • Take a PCR test on the 5th day after returning home AND monitor for symptoms for an additional 2 days (7 days total). Please previous emails on our website for more details.

Thank you for reading this email carefully and following our protocols. I have faith that – as a covenantal community – we will continue to respond to all challenges before us with grace and love. 

In peace,

Andrea

Update from December 2, 2021

Dear JCDSRI Families –

This morning we awoke to the news that in just one month, positive COVID cases have doubled in Rhode Island among children 5-9 years old and tripled for children ages 10-14 (all this is despite RI’s high vaccination rates).  Despite JCDSRI’s carefully constructed protocols and precautions, we recognize that we are not insulated from this alarming surge. 

That said, there are measures we can take as a community to mitigate the risks of increased spread within our school: 

  1. Continue wearing masks! There is overwhelming evidence that mask-wearing is the single best way to limit the spread of COVID. We implore everyone in our community to once again be vigilant about wearing masks, especially when spending time with children. 

  2. Stay home at the first hint of symptoms: COVID symptoms can appear mild at first (a sore throat, runny nose, stomach ache). If in doubt, keep your children home from school and immediately have them tested. 

  3. Limit travel and/or attendance at large gatherings: If you choose to travel with your children – or attend large gatherings (particularly those indoors and/or ones that don’t require masks), please follow our quarantine protocols (remember that it is not a coincidence that cases spiked right after Halloween and again after Thanksgiving!) 

  4. Embrace the outdoors: If your children are spending time with family and friends (especially if eating or drinking), consider doing so outside! If they are indoors with others outside of your immediate family, reinstate mask wearing and keep your windows open.

  5. Practice patience and compassion: Despite all our best efforts, the likelihood of classes needing to be quarantined is increasing. Our children are watching how we respond to situations like this: do we choose to react with frustration and blame, or with empathy and generosity? We feel fortunate that our school’s 5 values provide us with a road-map moving forward: when we inevitably are impacted by COVID (whether it be an illness in our family or a class having to stay home for a week due to a positive case), we will strive to respond with a sense of community, responsibility, respect, kindness, and righteousness. 

  6. Provide comfort to our children: We are working diligently to remind students that it is our responsibility as adults to care for and protect them – and their responsibility to learn, play, and experience joy (while also covering their mouths while sneezing and coughing into their elbows, of course!) JCDSRI educators will continue to help our students see that there are endless opportunities to be found for learning and growth – even in the most challenging of situations. 

  7. Testing: Finally, given the wave of cases we’ve seen post-Thanksgiving, we want to give you advanced notice that we will be requiring that a PCR test be administered for every student at some point between the Friday, December 31 and Tuesday, January 4. 

  8. Vaccinations: Our next COVID vaccine clinic is next Wednesday, December 8 (second dose will be given then. Please remember that no child is considered fully vaccinated until they are two weeks out from their second vaccine. We ask that you send Donna Baer a copy of your child’s completed vaccine card. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to the school’s COVID coordinator, Donna Baer, with any additional questions.

During this season of our lives, may we continue to embrace our capacity for resilience, our love of community, and our desire for hope.

With gratitude and respect,

Andrea and Mara

Update from November 19, 2021

 

Dear JCDSRI Families –
 

I am writing with information about two important issues that impact our community: the first is a reminder of our COVID travel protocols and the second is how we discuss the holiday of Thanksgiving at JCDSRI. While they may appear to be disparate topics, I believe that they both relate to how we understand what it means to build and sustain a just and caring community.

Travel Guidelines:

Many of us are looking forward to seeing friends and family during the upcoming Fall/Thanksgiving Holiday. Yet, with COVID cases rising at alarming rates throughout the Northeast, and with schools across Rhode Island (both private and public) closing and moving to distance learning as a result, it is essential that we work together to mitigate the risks before us. Therefore, we ask that our community adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Share proof of vaccination: Children are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second COVID vaccine. Please send Donna Baer proof of vaccination (either a picture or copy of the card) for our files. At this point, no child in our school is fully vaccinated.

  2. Travel by plane or train: If an unvaccinated child has traveled by plane or train,  they must quarantine for 7 days and we require a negative PCR test prior to returning to school (we do NOT accept rapid tests).

  3. Travel by car/High-risk activities: If your unvaccinated child is traveling by car and is engaged in a high-risk activity (ie: an in-door celebration, like a bar/bat mitzvah, a wedding, a dinner party at a restaurant, OR a large, crowded outdoor event with unmasked participants), they must quarantine for 7 days and a negative PCR test is required prior to returning to school.

  4. Travel by car/Low-risk activities: If your unvaccinated child is traveling by car and does not engage in a high-risk activity (ie: no in-door celebrations, like a bar/bat mitzvah, a wedding, dinner parties at a restaurant, OR large, crowded outdoor events with unmasked participants), they may return to school immediately after Fall/Thanksgiving break.

  5. Testing Recommendation: We are asking that ALL students who have traveled OR engaged in social gatherings over our break be tested 5-7 days after returning home (or after the gathering). 

  6. Questions? Please do not hesitate to reach out to the school’s COVID coordinator, Donna Baer, with any additional questions. 

Teaching about Thanksgiving

One of the lessons we’ve learned during this pandemic is that caring communities require not just love, but justice. That is why at JCDSRI, one of our 5 values is tzedek (justice). This value informs how our students understand the past and how we work together toward creating a more just and equitable world. Incorporating Learning for Justice’s Social Justice Standards is one part of this effort, as is how we talk about Thanksgiving with our students. 

Much of the dominant Thanksgiving story that is taught in schools in the U.S. focuses on a peaceful, cross-cultural exchange between the “Pilgrims and Indians.” And while it’s true that the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims shared in a harvest celebration, what we do not usually acknowledge is that just fifty years later, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people. In fact, within just a few generations, it is estimated that approximately 20 million people may have died in the years following the European invasion – up to 95% of the population of the Americas (for more information, see the excellent, but looong, book Guns, Germs & Steel). For many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is no cause for celebration, but rather serves as a reminder of colonization’s tragic impact on Indigenous peoples. 

Does that mean that at JCDSRI, we have stopped talking or learning about the holiday of Thanksgiving? No. Instead, our intent is to teach our students to understand that Thanksgiving means different things to different people. We explain that some families celebrate Thanksgiving and others do not, and we explain why (in ways, of course, that are developmentally appropriate). 

While we are fortunate that at JCDSRI our “attitude of gratitude” extends throughout the year (we don’t have to depend on Thanksgiving to cultivate the habit of expressing thanks), I never want to miss an opportunity to articulate my appreciation for the many gifts before me. 

So with that, I want to THANK YOU for your kindness, your generosity, and your trust. Each and every one of your children is treasured and fills my life with light and my heart with hope.

Wishing you a sweet Shabbat and looking forward to seeing you at our Havdalah celebration tomorrow night at 7:00pm outside at school.

With love and gratitude,

Andrea

Update from November 2, 2021

Dear JCDSRI Families –

Last night, the COVID Task Force met to discuss our current pandemic protocols in light of the potential approval of vaccinations for 5-11 year-olds

While we concluded that our layered mitigation strategies will remain for the foreseeable future (including, but not limited to, masking, strict visitor policies, sanitization protocols, extended outdoor time, & the use of HEPA filters), we did discuss instituting the following changes for children if/when they are vaccinated:

  1. Travel for fully vaccinated children:

    1. They do NOT need to get tested or self-quarantine if they are fully vaccinated (or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months)

    2. They should be monitored for COVID symptoms

    3. They should isolate and get tested immediately if they develop symptoms

    4. We continue to request that if your child’s travel includes high-risk activities (for example: crowded indoor events, particularly those with unmasked participants), they quarantine for 5 days and then get tested before returning to school, even if they are vaccinated.

  2. Fully vaccinated children who had close contact with someone who has COVID:

    1. They may remain in school as long as they are asymptomatic

    2. They must be tested 5-7 days after exposure

    3. If they have symptoms of COVID, they must immediately isolate and get tested

    4. If the test result is positive, they must isolate at home for 10 days

Please note the following requirements remain in place for unvaccinated children:

  1. Travel:

    1. Take a PCR test on the 5th day after returning home AND monitor for symptoms for an additional 2 days (7 days total)

  1. Close-Contact:

    1. Immediately quarantine at home

    2. Take a PCR test on the 5th day after exposure AND monitor for symptoms for an additional 2 days (7 days total)

The Task Force will be meeting again in the beginning of January, at which point we expect to have more information about vaccinations for younger children and its impact on the pandemic. We will, of course, meet before that if it is deemed necessary. In the meantime, we thank you for your partnership and support and continue to ask that you adhere to all protocols as we continue to work to keep our community safe and our children in school.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to the school’s COVID coordinator, Donna Baer, the school’s social worker, Meghan Cavanaugh, or me with any questions or concerns.

On behalf of the entire JCDSRI COVID Task Force, thank you for your support and continued commitment to caring for our community.

Best –

Mara Ostro, COVID Task Force Chair

Dr. Nathan Beraha, Pediatrician & Pediatric Cardiologist

Dr. Lesley Landau, Psychologist (children, adolescents, and families)

Rebecca Kislak, Attorney with expertise in healthcare policy; RI State Representative, District 4

Jill Davis Education Team Leader; Teacher Representative

Erika Rusley, Tzedek (Social Justice) and Technology Coordinator

Anthony Bucci Director of Security and Physical Plant

Harshita Lakhiani, JCDSRI Chief Financial Officer

Donna Baer, COVID Coordinator

Andrea Katzman, Head of School

Update from August 12, 2021

Dear JCDSRI Families,

 
JCDSRI’s COVID Task Force is pleased to share with you our detailed, carefully considered plan for in-person learning (click here or see attached). We encourage you to read it closely. The document includes information about masking, vaccinations, outdoor classrooms, and protocols around visitors in the building.
 
We want to assure you that dedication to our 5 values and our mission – as well as concern for the safety and well-being of our students, families, and faculty and staff – have informed all of the Task Force’s decisions. As the public health situation evolves and the state provides new guidance, we will adjust accordingly and will keep you updated.
 
In addition to sharing our written plan with you, we hope you will join us for our JCDSRI COVID “Town Hall” Zoom Meeting on August 19 at 7:30 pm. I am grateful that some of our Task Force Members will be joining us. We ask that you submit all questions before the Town Meetings on this Google form. This will allow us to answer as many questions as possible during our time together.
 
A gentle reminder that we will be requiring every student to take a COVID-19 PCR test and share the results with the JCDSRI front office before the beginning of school on September 1. Your child may be tested for COVID between August 26 and August 30 (results generally take anywhere from 24-48 hours); testing may not occur before August 26. Here is the link for information about testing in RI. 
 
Thank you again for your support and trust. We are blessed to have such an exceptional parent community. I look forward to speaking with you on August 19. If you would like to speak with a representative of the Task Force about an urgent issue before the Town Hall, please contact our Chair, Mara Ostro. If you have an urgent question for our Board of Trustees, please contact Shoshana Jacob, Board President.
 
If you have questions about our Family Handbook, forms, or any other beginning-of-school concerns, feel free to reach out to your children’s teachers or to our wonderful administrative support staff: Donna Baer and/or Meredith Friedman.

With gratitude and affection,

Andrea Katzman

 

Marking One Year

Dear Friends,
 
I am filled with complex emotions today. I hold both the tremendous gratitude that accompanies our 112th consecutive day of in-person learning since we opened our doors this fall and the sadness and turmoil felt a year ago today when we were forced to close the school due to the COVID pandemic.
 
In the weeks and months that followed that Friday announcement, we experienced tremendous loss and loneliness. Yet, this time apart also served to amplify our individual and communal strengths. I watched with awe as our remarkable educators dedicated themselves to creating an on-line school practically overnight while also juggling the pressures of caring for their own families; celebrated with our students as they embraced every opportunity to connect with their teachers and friends on-line while engaging in meaningful learning; and was inspired by our families, who met every challenge and setback with grace and generosity, consistently prioritizing their own children’s well-being over all else. And then, on September 8 of this year, our classrooms were once again filled with children and every day since, our joy has increased.
 
Through it all, our school’s foundational values of kavod (respect), chesed (kindness), achrayut (responsibility), and kehillah (community) have served as our guides. For that – and for the fact that we have had the opportunity to teach our students in-person while so many others have not had that privilege – I will be endlessly grateful. I am also aware that challenges still await us; this pandemic is still not over and we will be contending with its consequences for years to come.
 
Yet, I hold on to hope. The Hebrew word for hope – tikvah – has the same roots as the word for cord (kavah). And like the strands in a cord, hope binds us to each other, to our obligations, and to our future. Hope reminds us that our strength rests on our capacity to care for each other and to do the righteous work of building a better world for our children.
 
So on this momentous day, I thank you, I honor you, and I bless you with strength.
 
“May we be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened – hazak, hazak, ve-nithazek.”
 
 
Shabbat Shalom,
 
 
Andrea Katzman
Head of School

 

Update from November 2020

Dear JCDSRI Families,
I want to again thank you for your commitment to adhering to our COVID19 guidelines. It is only because of your support and commitment that our doors are still open and we are so grateful for that.

Like you, however, we are alarmed by the sudden rise of COVID cases and are aware that we seem to be just weeks away from our hospitals reaching their full capacity (see Dr. Forman talk about the growing crisis in this powerful video). Despite schools being safe spaces for children, we know that we are not immune from community spread – especially when it becomes out of control. We are asking that everyone in our community redouble their efforts and follow the following guidelines in the hopes that we can continue in-person learning at JCDSRI and protect our friends and neighbors (please review the points carefully, as there are some important new additions):

  • Travel information: The Governor has asked that families do not travel over Thanksgiving. If you must travel outside of RI overnight, we require that you inform Eileen Ellis of your travel plans (including dates and destination) as soon as possible. 

  • Quarantine requirements: Upon return from a state where positivity is 5% or above or from any international travel, a 14 day quarantine is strongly recommended. However after the fourth day of quarantine has been completed (at a minimum), a PCR test may be taken and – with confirmation of a negative result and no symptoms of COVID19 – the student can return to school.

  • Hosting visitors: If you are hosting a family member or friend from a state where positivity is 5% or above, the same restrictions as above must be followed. 

  • Testing sites: For students, sites can be found here. Testing information for parents and other household members who are not students can be found here.  Testing results must be submitted to Eileen Eillis before a student may return to school.

  • Symptoms & testing: Please note that if someone in your household has symptoms and needs to take a COVID test, everyone (including siblings) must quarantine pending test results.

  • Questions: If you have any additional questions about our COVID19 policies, please reach out to Eileen Ellis or call (401)-751-2470.

As we continue to watch community cases rise, we cannot overstate the importance of following all guidelines, including  not taking your mask off around people with whom you do not live and socially distancing when possible – even when spending time with others within your child’s bayit

Thank you for your ongoing support. Only because of your cautious and thoughtful partnership has our school been able to continue to keep students, families, and teachers healthy and our learning in-person. 

Wishing you all a Shabbat filled with peace, health and joy,

Andrea Katzman

Head of School

Update from October 16, 2020

Dear JCDSRI Families,

Just last week, our students learned that during the holiday of Sukkot we are to be happy:  v’samachta b’hagecha, ושמחת בחגך the Torah instructs – you shall be joyful in your festival. We are to fulfill this commandment by spending the holiday studying, eating, and celebrating in the company of others. What are we to understand from this?

We need each other in order to fully rejoice.

That has never been more evident than now as we complete our sixth week of full, in-person learning. Reaching this point seemed almost unimaginable while we were planning over the summer. And while I am acutely aware that we will face future challenges related to the pandemic, today I invite you to join me in celebrating this significant milestone.

We have only been able to open our doors because every member of our beloved JCDSRI community has risen to meet the difficulties before us. I am deeply grateful to our courageous faculty and staff, who never wavered, no matter the risks, in their desire to guide and love your children in person. They are truly heroes.

Yet it is because of YOU – our families – that all this is possible. Your willingness to do whatever it takes to keep our community safe has been extraordinary. Despite the disruption it may have caused, you kept your children home for minor illnesses, waited patiently for delayed test results, cancelled trips and family gatherings – all to ensure that we stay healthy and our doors stay open.

I know I speak on behalf of our entire faculty and staff when I say we treasure your trust and support. Without your partnership, not only would our capacity to care and teach your children be diminished, so would our joy. I will never be able to adequately thank you.

May we all continue our commitment to keeping our community safe, healthy, and together. 

Wishing you a sweet and joyful Shabbat,

Andrea Katzman 

Head of School

 

Update from August 31, 2020

Dear JCDSRI Families,

A few minutes ago, Governor Raimondo announced that public schools in Providence will be opening according to a “Partial In-Person Learning Scenario.” In addition, the Governor cleared all private schools in Rhode Island to open “Full In-Person.” According to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and Department of Health (RIDOH), both scenarios require that students maintain stable groups of no more than 30. Please note that all our classes are under 15 students, so we easily can adhere to RIDE and RIDOH’s reopening requirements. 

As a result, JCDSRI will be able to fully reopen on September 8.

I will be meeting with our Task Force this evening to review our reopening plans; any additional information will be shared with you by the end of the week.

With much anticipation and excitement,

Andrea Katzman

Head of School

 

Update from August 17, 2020

Dear JCDSRI Families:

As I shared with you last week, Governor Raimondo decided to delay opening public schools until September 14. Over the past few days, I have met with Commissioner Infante-Green and representatives from RIDE (RI Department of Education), other independent schools leaders, members of our Task Force, and members of our Board of Directors in order to ascertain how we can ensure a healthy and stable beginning to our year in light of this new information. After extensive discussions, I have want to share with you our plans:

While JCDSRI is prepared for a full in-person opening, we are postponing the first day of school. JCDSRI will begin on Tuesday, September 8 (after Labor Day) and we will extend the school year until Wednesday, June 16, 2021. We do so with the following variables in mind:

  1. According to the Governor’s protocols in her Rhode Island Playbook for COVID Response and our Task Force recommendations, adequate testing with fast turnaround that allows for a rapid response to new cases is necessary for schools to reopen. According to RIDOH, testing capability is ramping up for September, but has not yet achieved a level that would give us confidence that we could keep our community safe. (See our monitoring of the Rhode Island Reopening Metrics Status.)

  2. The Governor does not plan to provide an updated plan for RI school reopening until August 31 (a delay from August 17). We cannot open responsibly without this guidance from the Governor’s office and the RI Department of Health (RIDOH) and we require time to respond to any potential new guidance and/or requirements. 

Unless – in the new guidelines (of August 31) – the Governor and RIDOH orders all Rhode Island schools to implement distance learning, we look forward to beginning our school year in-person, and full time, on September 8.

I know that there have been changing expectations in regards to school over the last few months – and I also recognize that this may not be the final change. In spite of the uncertainty, all of us at JCDSRI have been working tirelessly to plan for a stable, loving, and meaningful educational experience for your children this year – and we cannot wait to begin!

Wishing you all the best – 

Andrea Katzman

Head of School

 

Update from August 12, 2020

Dear Families,

A few minutes ago, Governor Raimondo announced that she will be delaying the opening of public schools until September 14. It is still not entirely clear how this will impact private schools. In addition, she will also be postponing her decision in regards to how all schools will open (whether it be full in-person, partial learning, or distance learning) until August 31.

Over the next few days, I have numerous meetings planned with other private school Heads of School, with representatives from RIDE, and with our Task Force, during which I hope to receive more concrete information. We will let you know our decision about our start date by the end of next week, and I hope earlier than that. 

Please be assured that your children will experience a meaningful and joyful beginning to their school year, whether we start on September 2 or the 14. In addition, we believe our carefully crafted reopening plan will allow us to begin in person; that said, we ultimately will need to await the Governor’s announcement on August 31 before we will know if that is possible.

I know that the changing expectations in regards to school over the last few months has been difficult on you and your children and I am so sorry to – once again – burden you with more uncertainty. Please be assured that all of us at JCDSRI are committed to creating as stable, loving, and connected educational experience for your children as possible.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. I will be in touch as soon as I have more information to share.

Best – Andrea

 

 

Update from July 31, 2020

Dear JCDSRI Families,

I know I speak for the entire JCDSRI faculty and staff when I say we cannot wait to begin school on September 2! Whether you are a returning family or new to our community, we are excited to greet you and begin a year filled with learning and growth. We are a little over four weeks away from our first day of school, and I want to take this opportunity to update you on our reopening progress, invite you to engage in further conversation, and ask for your support.

JCDSRI’s ReOpening Task Force – with input from families, faculty, staff, and in close coordination with state and local authorities, public health officials, and our Board of Directors –  has developed a detailed, carefully considered plan for an in-person reopening that is 5 full days a week. Dedication to our mission – as well as concern for the safety and well-being of our students, families, and faculty and staff – have informed all of the Task Force’s decisions. As the public health situation evolves and the state provides new guidance, we will adjust accordingly and will keep you updated. Please see the Together Again: Reopening JCDSRI – Fall 2020 PDF here for full details, including information on partial in-person and distance learning, should additional options become necessary this year.

I want to offer my profound thanks to our Task Force members, Dr. Nathan Beraha, Rebecca Kislak, Dr. Lesley Landau, Mara Ostro, Jill Davis, Erika Rusley, Harshita Lakhiani, and Anthony Bucci, for their wisdom, expertise and focus. Their work reflects current medical recommendations, as well as a commitment to our school’s 4 values and to p’kuach nefesh (protecting human life). I am grateful that the Task Force members will continue to provide us with guidance throughout the year, ensuring that we can ably respond to any challenges we might face.

I also want to thank you, our exceptional parents, for your feedback, support, and trust. At JCDSRI, we believe that children learn best with and from each other in a caring community; we also know that when educators and parents work in close partnership, children thrive. I look forward to collaborating with you this year as we create the very best learning environment for your children. 

JCDSRI has the advantages of small class sizes, supportive families, and a deeply committed faculty and staff. As a result, we anticipate that in-person learning will resume in September and that we will continue to keep our students in school for extended periods of time. While we are thankful to have the opportunity to plan for an in-person beginning to our year, I also recognize that this start of school might bring with it conflicting emotions for many of us – anxiety and apprehension, as well as anticipation and relief.  I have those feelings, too. I am aware that we will be faced with the unexpected, yet I remain confident that our community is uniquely situated to respond flexibly, thoughtfully, and generously to the moment. 

The Task Force has indicated that in order for us to resume in-person learning, our entire community must work together to uphold standards of behavior and public health best practices that support wellness. We believe that we must take responsibility not only for ourselves, but for the health and safety of our neighbors, friends, and strangers. In order for us to return to in-person learning, we require a commitment from everyone in the JCDSRI community to review and follow our safety protocols. Included in our Together Again: Reopening JCDSRI – Fall 2020 are ways you can help us mitigate the risk of spreading Covid-19 in our school and in our state. We request that families stay up-to-date on Rhode Island health guidelines and follow them outside of school as well as at JCDSRI. Every adult in the school community needs to take responsibility for their family’s health in the interest of keeping everyone in our community safe.

Finally, I look forward to seeing you at one of our JCDSRI ReOpening “Town Hall” Zoom Meetings for parents & caregivers. Our Task Force Members will be joining me to discuss our reopening plans with you.

In addition, Meghan Cavanaugh and I will be holding a special JCDSRI student “Town Hall Meeting” on Wednesday, August 12 during which your children will be able to ask questions about our reopening plans.

We ask that you submit all questions before the Town Meetings on this Google form. This will allow us to answer as many questions as possible during our time together; please also indicate which town hall meeting you will be attending. 

I know that – with your help – we can successfully implement a sound reopening plan that retains our nurturing, joyous, and meaningful learning environment. I look forward to speaking with you on August 6 or August 10. In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying the summer!

Sending gratitude and affection you way – and wishing you a sweet, happy, and peaceful Shabbat,

Andrea

Head of School