Dear Senesh Parents:

Update on Indoor Masking at Senesh

Yesterday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that based on current COVID metrics and CDC guidance, indoor masks will be optional in NYS schools effective Wednesday, March 2. 

As a New York City school, we are required to follow the mandates of both the state and the city.

NYC Mayor Adams announced that he will make a final decision regarding mask-wearing indoors for NYC schools this Friday. If the data continues to show a significant drop in positive cases in NYC and a low level of risk, New York City will no longer require indoor mask-wearing in schools effective March 7. 

Assuming this happens, Senesh will follow suit and allow mask-wearing to be optional indoors as of Monday, March 7.

It has been a long two years of mask-wearing for our staff and students. It is understandable that this change will bring out many emotions - excitement, optimism, anxiety, wondering, and concern. This is normal and something we will all navigate together.

We expect there will be staff and students who will continue to choose to wear masks in school. We want everyone to feel supported in their personal choices regarding mask-wearing during this transitional period. 

Our faculty are planning how to best support students during this transition including discussing the upcoming change with your children in a developmentally appropriate way. We ask parents to discuss this change with their children including sharing your expectations for your children regarding whether or not they wear a mask in school. 

Here are some helpful tips from Christopher D. Watson, Psy.D., ABPP for talking to children/adolescents about the coming changes:

  1. Examine your own feelings on the topic before you talk to your child. If you are anxious, this will raise your child’s anxiety. If you see ending masking as a “win”, keep in mind that you may unintentionally minimize any worried feelings your child may have.
  2. Proactively start a conversation with your child in an open ended way like, “Starting Wednesday, your school won’t require a mask anymore. What do you think about that?” This will give you an in to ask follow up questions and really get to know your child’s thoughts/feelings before you need to respond. Adults often over plan for what to say in awkward conversations only to find out that they are thinking WAY more deeply about the matter than the child is.
  3. Reassure your child that changes in policies happen because of new and important information from some really smart people who are helping them stay safe.
  4. Explain that some kids (maybe even them) may still choose to wear masks because they may need them to feel safe…and that is ok. Each person has a right to do whatever they feel is best. You never know if a person has a specific reason that wearing a mask, not wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, not getting vaccinated, etc. is important to them.
  5. Particularly if you have older children, please emphasize the need for kindness and grace with their peers. In the past few weeks there has already been an increase in bullying and threats toward peers on either side of the masking issue.
  6. Limit the amount of exposure to media coverage of the pandemic, policy changes, etc. These are rarely without bias and are really confusing and challenging for adults to sort out, let alone kids.
  7. Open the door for more conversation if there is anything that your child becomes concerned about as they return to school.

As mentioned in our previous email sent on Feb. 16, updated COVID protocols based on current NYS and NYC mandates: 

  • We will implement optional mask-wearing outdoors. Those who have tested positive for COVID and return to school after a five day isolation will wear a mask outdoors on days 6-10.

  • All classroom desks will be arranged in clusters to facilitate increased group work and collaboration among our students.

  • We will invite parents to attend in person school events, if vaccinated and masked.

  • We will resume outdoor field trips and are planning for all three spring middle school overnight trips (6th-Teva Learning Center, 7th-Washington DC, and 8th-Israel).

  • As we adapt our mitigation strategies at school we will continue to conduct morning health screenings at arrival and weekly testing to ensure we carefully monitor student health during this period of transition. If your child has symptoms of illness please have them stay home.

  • Household close contacts only: Students can attend school. We will implement Test to Stay (TTS), daily rapid tests on days 1-5 after last exposure.

We will update you on any changes to protocols once masks become optional in our school setting. During this period of transition we will continue to monitor COVID data and keep our lines of communication with parents open.

In partnership,

Nicole Nash
Head of School