Dear Senesh Parents:
Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh,
the entire community is responsible for one another.
When I stand outside at arrival each morning and walk around the classrooms and see the smiling faces of our children, I think to myself, “We did it! We opened our doors and our kids are learning and happily engaging with one another and their teachers!” It took all of us - parents, staff, and students - to embrace a new way of being and follow a whole host of protocols to reach our goal of keeping our community as healthy as possible and our doors open for as long as possible.
In the past six weeks, we continue to be guided by:
- Medical and health professionals, the NYS DOHMH, and the Senesh COVID-19 Task Group, which includes three medical professionals
- Reflections and feedback from parents, staff, and students; including our most recent survey about upcoming vacations
- Conversations with leadership and educators at other schools
- Our school’s core values — responsibility to others, openness to varied perspectives, and perseverance
- Building an engaging and meaningful academic program
To best reach our goal of a healthy community and keep our school doors open for the duration of the school year, we share three updates with you:
1.Beginning Thursday, October 29; Senesh will require routine COVID-19 testing on 25% of Senesh families and Senesh faculty weekly.
Why are we adding this new practice?
With a growing number of COVID clusters in Brooklyn, we believe this is an important practice for our safety plan; and one that is being implemented in many schools across the city.
How will I know when to get my kids tested?
You will receive an email communication informing you of the dates your child/children should be tested. To support families in this process; all Senesh students in the same family will receive the same testing date. We are making an effort to ensure a small group of students in each pod are a part of each weekly testing cycle.
What type of COVID tests are required?
COVID-19 PCR/Nasal Swab Test. Antigen rapid tests will not be accepted as they are not as accurate.
Where do I get tested?
You can get tested anywhere, but we recommend this testing site in Red Hook, which does not require an appointment, currently does not have a wait upon arrival, is free, and has a 36-48 hour turn-around time.
NYC Health + Hospitals:
Red Hook Recreation Center
155 Bay Street, Brooklyn
Monday – Sunday, 9am-7pm
PM Pediatrics is still an excellent choice, but we wanted to offer the above location, which does the less invasive nasal swab.
What do I do with the test results?
Can my child come to school while awaiting test results?
Yes. Students may attend school in-person while awaiting test results.
2.Follow Senesh Community Health and Safety Guidelines During Thanksgiving Break
- Families and staff are strongly encouraged to remain in their home communities throughout the holiday
- When families/students/staff gather with others they must always be socially distanced, masked, outdoors, and never in large groups
- Meals that include guests must only be held outdoors and socially distanced
- Limit social interactions, always wear a mask, and maintain social distancing
- Practice responsible hand-washing/sanitizing
Do not travel out of the country or to any state listed on the New York State Travel Advisory
Families who do not follow these guidelines over the Thanksgiving break will not be allowed to return to school for a 14-day period. As we are currently open for an in-person learning program; we are not able to accommodate families choosing to follow other guidelines over Thanksgiving to join the Online Streaming Option for In-Person Learning.
3.Participate in a Community-wide Quarantine and Distance Learning Following Winter Break
Thank you to parents and staff for sharing openly with us on our recent survey regarding travel plans. We understand that by winter break, the pandemic will have impacted all of us for nine months. We recognize the need for our staff and family members to be able to safely visit family and then safely return to school.
Based on this data, school vacation for students will begin on Monday, December 21. We believe a two-week vacation will allow time for staff and families to both quarantine as needed before visiting others and to have a meaningful visit.
We have decided to make the entire school virtual for the two weeks following Winter Break. All of Senesh will transition to our Senesh@Home distance learning from Monday, January 4 through Friday, January 15. This way, no one will have to curtail travel plans or family gatherings until January 4th, because afterwards the whole school will be participating in a community quarantine.
We hope this will encourage families to use Winter Break instead of the Thanksgiving Break for travel or visiting with family. We will return to in-person learning after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Tuesday, January 19.
During the two-week period of Senesh@Home remote learning period, we ask all families to follow community guidelines. Please do not use this as an opportunity to extend travel and visits with others. Our community health is dependent on everyone returning to the school community guidelines (When families/students/staff gather with others, they must always be socially distanced, masked, outdoors, and never in large groups) for two weeks prior to return.
If these guidelines are not followed; students will not be able to return to school on January 19 and similar to Thanksgiving; we are not able to offer a remote program for those students.
All students will be required to get a COVID-19 test and report a negative test result before returning to school. All students must get tested on either January 12 or 13 to return to school on January 19. Please do not get tested before January 12, as the test will be considered invalid. Please see the testing section above with answers to the questions: What type of test? Where to get tested? Where to send results?
We will follow up with all families about the testing process in the coming weeks. You will also hear from your division directors and teachers with more information about the transition to Senesh@Home distance learning as we get closer to the winter break.
We understand the inconvenience the above protocols may cause many families, but hope that announcing this early will give you as much time as possible to plan. We believe this is the best way to keep our community safe and allow us to stay open as long as possible.
As always, thank you for your cooperation and partnership.