CJDS Head of School
Rachel Arcus-Goldberg
June 25, 2020 / 3 Tammuz 5780
Dear CJDS Families,

I hope that you are all managing well and taking good care. I am writing today with an important update about the coming academic year and hope you’ll be able to take a few minutes to review this message. 

First, I want to thank you all so much for your ongoing dedication to our school. We are living in extraordinary times, and a lot is being required of all of us to keep ourselves, our families, and our school strong. This past spring showed that CJDS was well-positioned to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19. Through the enormous dedication, teamwork, and creativity that is the hallmark of CJDS faculty and staff, we managed to maintain high-quality learning and a spirit of community and socio-emotional support, even in the remote environment. As unexpected and difficult as the emergence of COVID-19 was, I have been so heartened by the affirmative feedback from so many of you about the spring, and from countless people in the community at large, all recognizing these efforts. CJDS is so lucky to have faculty and staff who care passionately about the work we do, who are smart and creative, and who bring to each day the critical thinking and care for the community needed to navigate these changing and challenging times. And we are so fortunate to have all of you, our families, our Board members, supporters, and a cadre of volunteers doing such important work for the well-being of the school.

As you know, we have been doing scenario planning for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year. While the State of Ohio has not yet announced that schools are permitted to reopen in the fall, statements by Gov. DeWine seem to point in that direction. Should that reopening be announced, CJDS’s plan is to open and welcome students back to in-school learning in the fall. We currently plan to operate in a full-day, five-day-a-week, in-person mode. Of course, COVID-19 remains an evolving situation, so we will continue to develop alternative plans should the landscape change from what we currently expect. More information is outlined in the attachment .
Three equal anchor points guide the work in planning for the fall: 
(1) fulfilling our school’s mission of delivering academically excellent general and Jewish studies, and nurturing our students’ socio-emotional well being; 
(2) prioritizing the health of our school community and minimizing risk of infection and transmission; and 
(3) building flexibility and agility into our plans to allow for effective transitions where situations may require it.   

There are a lot of components to the work ahead this summer. A COVID-19 task force consisting of teachers, medical and public health experts, and others experienced with operational and design planning, has been meeting already and will continue work throughout the summer. A non-exhaustive list of the work being done by the task force includes: designing our academic delivery model (including appropriate alternatives, if we need to toggle temporarily to remote learning either as a whole community, or at a more individualized level to accommodate student or faculty needs); operations and facilities planning (configuring spaces to enable social distancing, enhanced cleaning and sanitation measures, etc.); strategies, guidelines, and supplies for personal health and risk mitigation (including face masks, frequent hand-washing, hand sanitizers, and protocols for faculty, staff, and students for symptom-monitoring and staying home as needed); student transportation (determining bus availability and logistics); and more.  

As will be true in all aspects of our lives until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available, the ways in which we teach, work, and live will feel different for the time being from what we have previously known. As we will communicate about further this summer, every member of our community will need to commit to a collective effort to protect the overall health, safety and well-being of one another and the CJDS community. The Talmud teaches: כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה, “kol yisrael arevim ze l’ze” -- the Jewish community (indeed, the entire community) is responsible for one another. Just as we structure each grade’s learning around Essential Questions, we are developing Essential Actions to guide our care for one another and our community this coming year.

I am optimistic that CJDS is in a strong position to succeed in these efforts, given the combination of our being a small school with a large footprint of physical space, and with such a strong school culture of communal well being.
More communications and conversations will follow. Weekly updates will be sent on Thursdays, and with a collection of the Frequently Asked Questions that are coming up, as well as, new and pertinent information.  

In the meantime, while we do not have all the answers or plans yet, to assist with preparing for the fall I do want to be able to address family concerns about a return to in-person instruction as early as possible. In particular, I want to invite families to reach out to discuss any concerns about special circumstances (including conditions identified by the CDC ) that may create a higher risk for COVID-19 complications. Families with such concerns about returning to in-person learning are invited to contact me to discuss further.   

Thanks to all of you, again, for your dedication and care for our wonderful school.  
CJDS is a proud partner of JewishColumbus.