July 20, 2020

Dear Pardes Families,

I hope this communication finds you safe and well, and that you are enjoying your summer! As crazy as it sounds, we are 28 days away from the opening of school on August 17th. We have spent endless hours over the past two months analyzing, evaluating, planning and preparing for the 2020-2021 school year.

As I mentioned in an earlier communication, taking the lead from the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Pardes believes that returning to in-person learning is of paramount importance. However, the safety and well being of our students, families, faculty and staff continues to be our top priority, and we can’t turn a blind eye to the current numbers in Arizona.

We have made the decision to begin the school year on August 17th virtually, utilizing our upgraded, dynamic, interactive online learning platform with live daily classes and wonderful opportunities for community building. On September 8th, we are excited to open our doors for on-campus learning for all students in kindergarten through eighth grade. While we hope to see as many students as possible in person, there will be an online option for families unable to have their child(ren) on campus. As a private school, we do not have to follow the public school requirements determined by the state of Arizona and would only adjust this plan if a statewide shutdown is declared or Covid-19 circumstances deem it impossible to maintain a safe community environment. 

We recognize that this initial plan adjustment may impact families; however, there are many important benefits that led us to this decision.

  • It provides additional time for the number of cases in Arizona to hopefully decrease.
  • We know that increased opportunities to have time outdoors mitigates risks related to Covid-19. Delaying the in-person start date moves us closer to cooler temperatures and the wonderful opportunity for additional learning outdoors.
  • We are able to continue to evaluate other schools throughout the world to see what worked to mitigate the risks of Covid-19.
  • The additional time at home enables all of us to commit to a true community effort of adhering to the guidelines (wearing a face covering, staying at home as much as possible, physically distancing, and monitoring symptoms) thereby mitigating potential risks from recent summer travel. This community commitment will enable every student to begin the school year in person from the same safety vantage point.
  • We are able to begin important community and relationship building. Students and teachers are able to interact in small groups, collaborate, and bond as a classroom community without physical distancing guidelines.

We are pleased to share our Pardes School Reopening Plan, Naaleh . In Hebrew, Naaleh means to ascend . When Moses sent 12 spies to explore the land of Israel, ten of them returned with a message of despair. However, two returned and exclaimed, “ Naaleh .” They acknowledged there may be challenges, but ultimately concluded “We can do it!” These too are challenging times. However, we are confident that we can work together as a school community to provide a robust, powerful and safe educational experience, a hallmark of a Pardes education.  PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE PARDES SCHOOL REOPENING PLAN.

Along with the full support of the Board of Directors, our plan was created by our Administrative Team with significant input and guidance from our Advisory Group. Both groups were charged with researching the best, most up-to-date information from medical and workplace safety experts; mental health professionals; government officials; our accrediting organizations and networks; faculty, staff, student, and parent voices; and our Jewish values. The plan is grounded in our commitment to and compliance with guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and state and local health agencies.

Our School Reopening Plan is comprehensive and multi-faceted with the ultimate goal of mitigating risks related to Covid-19 on our campus. As you will see in the booklet, it incorporates new health and safety protocols, classroom redesign, enhanced cleaning, class pods, additional staffing and much more. As a smaller educational community, Pardes is able to integrate these necessary safety measures and pivot should it be deemed necessary.

In the School Reopening Plan, you will find thorough descriptions of our three learning models: 

  • On Campus Learning model
  • Online Interactive Classroom Education model
  • Virtual Attendance Remote Learning model

After reading our Reopening Plan, we understand you may have additional questions. We will be holding three virtual parent information sessions on Thursday, July 23rd. These meetings will be an opportunity for us to provide more insights into the Reopening Plan, as well as answer questions. 

  • Kindergarten: 4:00 pm
  • First Grade - Third Grade: 4:45 pm
  • Fourth Grade - Eighth Grade: 5:30 pm

While we may have time for additional questions at the end of each session, we ask that you submit any questions prior to the sessions. Please CLICK HERE to submit a question. We will send the Zoom link in a separate communication later this week.

The situation in Arizona remains fluid with the pandemic continuing to create disruption and uncertainty. As always, we will continue to monitor things daily, communicate often, continue to prepare, train, and if needed, make adjustments. 

We will have additional pieces of information within the next several weeks including:
  • School supply lists
  • iPad and laptop distribution schedules
  • New Student and New Parent Orientations
  • Class level meet and greets
  • Details regarding drop off / pick up procedures
  • Information regarding the athletics/after-school program
  • An important Return to School Form, which must be completed and returned by every family
In the meantime, please CLICK HERE  to complete our very brief questionnaire by Friday, July 31st providing us information about whether or not, given the health and safety protocols we are putting into place, you anticipate your child(ren) returning to campus on Tuesday, September 8th. Of course, should your child(ren) be unable to return to school in person, they can begin the Virtual Attendance Learning model. Your response is critical for our planning.
Should your family face logistical challenges as a result of the adjustment to the start of school, and may need some support navigating these circumstances, we encourage you to reach out to Lauren Kreisberger at 480-462-2527or lkreisberger@pardesschool.org.
Pardes remains as beautiful as ever, but distressingly empty without our faculty and students. We will all need to make adjustments and be flexible because of this pandemic, and we appreciate the incredible parent and school partnership we have with our families. Together we can begin again the wonderfully important work of learning, inquiry, and growth that is the life of the Pardes campus. Together, Naaleh… We can do it!
Kind Regards,
Peter Gordon
Head of School