Dear Senesh Parents,

I am reaching out with new information as a follow up to the letter shared with all of you last week. We are continuing to review the CDC guidelines for schools, the newly released NYS Education Department guidelines for schools, and evolving COVID-19 data. Additionally, I am in communication with independent and Jewish heads of school regarding school opening plans. The Senesh COVID task group and medical advisory are also meeting regularly to ensure our school protocols prioritize the health of our community and set our school up for a year of in-person learning that is engaging, meaningful, and is reflective of our school's mission and values. 

Please review our layered approach to mitigation strategies that include: vaccinations, testing, masking, distancing measures, hand, surface, and respiratory hygiene, staying home when sick, improved ventilation, and cleaning and disinfection.
 
Please note that these strategies and protocols are subject to change depending on the data and guidance we receive at any given time. 

VACCINATIONS:

  • The COVID-19 vaccine is required for all students 12 years and over and all staff.
  • Proof of vaccination should be sent to the office at office2@hannahsenesh.org.

TESTING:

  • All students must provide a negative PCR COVID test before the first day of school.
  • In-person testing for students and staff will take place at Senesh on Thursday, September 9th from 9:30am-1:00pm. You can drop by at any time during that window.
  • Should you choose to test elsewhere; tests must be taken on Thursday, September 9th and results must be emailed to office2@hannahsenesh.org
  • No students will be able to enter school without a negative PCR COVID test taken on September 9, 2021.
  • We are following state guidance regarding travel restrictions; there will not be any travel restrictions in place at this time.
  • We will do routine testing in the school similar to what was done last year. Details of this will be forthcoming.

NEW OPENING DAY OF SCHOOL AND LAST DAY IN JUNE:

  • Due to mandatory COVID PCR testing on September 9th; our first day of school will be Monday, September 13, 2021 after all test results have been received.
  • We will follow our regular school hours and arrival plan (except for Kindergarten students who will have a different schedule that we will communicate with kindergarten families.)
  • Please note on the school calendar, this year our last day of school will be Wednesday, June 15, 2022. These additional June days are in place due to our later start date.

BACK TO SCHOOL VIRTUAL EVENT ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9:

  • We will host grade-level Back to School Zoom meetings on Thursday, September 9th to ensure everyone has met the team prior to our new first day of school. 
  • Parents will meet the teachers and learn about curriculum, special projects, classroom guidelines, and more. This is not a time for individual conversations. Zoom links for these meetings will come closer to the date.
  • These Back to School Zoom meetings will take place at the following times:
  • 3:00-3:45pm for 4th and 6th grades 
  • 3:55-4:40pm for 2nd grade
  • 4:50-5:35pm for 1st grade
  • 5:45-6:30pm for 3rd grade
  • 6:40-7:25pm for 7th grade
  • 7:35-8:20pm for 5th grade
  • 8:30-9:15pm for Kindergarten and 8th grade

CLOSE CONTACTS AND QUARANTINE PROTOCOLS:

  • These are still being determined and will follow CDC and NYS Department of Health mandates.

HEALTH SCREENINGS:

  • Parents will not need to complete the daily Magnus App as we did last year. We do ask that you monitor your child’s health and keep your child home if there is any sign of COVID, e.g. headache, stomach ache, sneezing, sniffling, coughing.
  • School staff will conduct health screenings at the entrances and parents will be asked to drop students off outside of the yard/school entrance.

MASKS:

  • Types of Masks: 
  • Students and staff must wear masks that are at a minimum 2-ply.
  • The fit of the mask is critical. Individuals should make sure the mask fits snugly to cover the nose bridge, mouth, and chin.
  • Masking Indoors: 
  • Masks must be worn by all students and staff at all times indoors; regardless of vaccination status. 
  • Masking Outdoors: 
  • Unvaccinated students are required to wear masks outdoors; unless eating. 
  • If a group of all vaccinated students, staff, or parents are outdoors, mask wearing is not required. 
  • If a group is a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people then all in the group need to mask.

DISTANCING MEASURES AND STUDENT GROUPINGS:

  • All desks in classrooms will be spaced three feet apart.
  • We expect K-4th grade classes to be in two sections (not three pods as they were last year), and middle school students to be in a variety of subject specific groupings as in past years.
  • Students will move from classroom to classroom for different subjects. 
  • We are looking forward to using our gym, art room, beit midrash, science lab, and music space for their intended purposes. 

HYGIENE:

  • We will maintain our hygiene protocols that include routine handwashing, hand sanitizing, and respiratory etiquette.

ATHLETICS AT SENESH:

  • We are continuing to monitor CDC and local guidelines related to athletic teams as we make decisions related to the Middle School Basketball teams.
  • All students will wear masks during physical education, which will take place in our gymnasium. 
  • Required distancing measures will be monitored by the physical education teachers.
  • Daily outdoor recess will provide additional time for physical activity.

COMMUNITY GUIDELINES OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL:

  • Vaccinated Students: 
  • Can participate in athletics and afterschool programs outside of Senesh if masked and distanced. 
  • Can have indoor visits with other vaccinated classmates and friends masked. If outdoors, masks are not required.
  • Unvaccinated Students:
  • Outdoor playdates, birthday parties, after school programs and other social gatherings are encouraged.
  • Masks should be worn for all gatherings indoors and outdoors. If indoors, distancing is encouraged if possible.
  • Families Gathering with Other Families:  
  • Outdoor gatherings are encouraged.
  • Masks should be worn indoors. 
  • Monitoring Health:
  • Keep children home from school if they have any symptoms of illness.
  • Transportation:
  • We expect to have use of the NYC school buses for transportation and will be in touch with families as specific information about bus routes and stops becomes available. All students should wear masks on the bus.
  • If carpooling, everyone should wear masks, ride with windows open, and leave space between passengers. 
  • If using public transportation, all students and parents should wear a mask, wash hands/use hand sanitizer after exiting, and leave space between people to allow for physical distancing. 

SCHOOL LUNCH:

  • As we are having our students eat outdoors (K in classrooms) we will not begin the year offering a school lunch program. We will revisit this possibility in late fall. 
  • All students should come to school with their own lunch and snacks for the day that follow the school’s kashrut policy (Jewish dietary laws). Student lunches brought from home must be dairy or parve. No meat or shellfish is permitted. Food brought from home does not need to have a hechsher (a rabbinical product certification, qualifying foods conform to the requirements of kashrut).
  • Please send a filled water bottle to school with your child.
  • All students will be instructed to wash/sanitize their hands before and after meals.
  • Students in grades 1-8 will eat outdoors following 3-foot guidelines. Kindergartners will eat in their classrooms following distancing guidelines.
  • Students will be reminded not to share any food or beverages.

DISTANCE LEARNING:

  • Senesh will not offer a remote option for learning. Distance learning will only be offered when a child is out due to a COVID quarantine. More details will be shared once school has begun.

VACCINATED PARENTS:

  • We will share final decisions around parents attending events in-school once the school year has begun.
  • Parent volunteers who provide proof of vaccination are welcome into the building.
  • Parents, please email proof of your vaccination to the office at office2@hannahsenesh.org. Include your name and your child/ren’s names in the email. If you previously shared proof of vaccination with the school you do not need to resubmit.

We understand the challenges of returning to all of these COVID protocols and hope that we will not have to maintain this level of vigilance all year, but we must do whatever we can to keep our community safe. We are confident that together we will once again follow our community guidelines to ensure a healthy year ahead for all of us and we will once again give our children joyful and engaging learning experiences and give one another the close and warm community experience that is a hallmark of Senesh.

In partnership,

Nicole Nash
Head of School