Dear Beit Rabban Parents,

I hope you and your family are happy and healthy. We are all thinking about you and your children during this challenging summer. In fact, I think many of us on staff miss your children even more than we would over an average summer break. I miss the anchoring connection of virtual morning tefillah and Shabbat B’Yachad, and I am really looking forward to coming back together as a community in September. 

We are committed to meeting best practices with respect to the health and safety of our community when we do return to school in September, and this commitment means that our planning continues to evolve as do scientific understandings, regulations, and the reality on the ground. Following up on our space update of a couple of weeks ago, we are sharing this Summer Update #2 with the intention of continuing to update you on a weekly basis before school starts. Please note that a schedule of town halls through the end of the summer is included below, starting next Wednesday, July 22, at 8PM EDT. Of course, you can also feel free to reach out to me or Nicole directly at any time. 

Wishing all a restful and rejuvenating Shabbat,
Emerging State and Local Guidelines for the 2020-21 School Year

As you may know, Governor Cuomo announced this week that school districts can open once two conditions are met: (1) Phase Four Reopening and (2) Less than 5% infection rate. New York City is preparing to enter Phase Four and is holding well below the 5% infection rate. Mayor De Blasio has announced that New York City Schools will reopen in September. Unlike public schools and a number of private schools, Beit Rabban is not planning to use a hybrid model of in person and distance learning. Our plan is to run school in-person full time, and to switch to distance learning only when we need to.

New York State has also released Interim Guidelines for re-opening schools in the context of the pandemic, and we are waiting on final guidelines to be released in the near future. In the meantime, our administration and COVID Medical Advisory Committee has reviewed these guidelines as well as those of other states and various industry groups. Informed by these sources as well as the latest scientific research, we have updated our Interim Health and Hygiene Protocols to specify the following: (A) class-based pods will be limited to 15 or fewer students and (B) all Kevutzot and Chativah (K-7) students are required to wear face masks at all times. We are still waiting for clarification from New York State on face covering requirements for preschool students, as of now we do not expect this to be required.
Space: Two Locations for 2020-21

As shared a couple of weeks ago, we plan to have school in two locations this coming year, dividing between our 15 West 86 Street location and another Upper West Side location that can safely accommodate older grades. You can anticipate more details in my update next week. 
Daily Schedule

In order to minimize transmission risks by diffusing congestion during arrival and dismissal, we will be offering families a choice between a few different arrival/dismissal times. More details with respect to the logistics and safety of arrival and dismissal will also be shared next week.

We will not be offering an after school enrichment program this year. However, we will be offering a “Tzaharon” program at an additional cost for Gan students who have siblings in older class with a later dismissal and/or have a parent who teaches in Kevutzot with a later dismissal. Details and sign up will be available next week.

We will be sharing an updated calendar in the coming weeks, in the meantime, please note the following updates to the 2020-21 School Calendar : (1) Students in all grades will visit their classrooms during the week of September 2nd. (2) We are implementing a staggered start schedule in all grades over the first week of school. Please look out for more information on both scheduling updates next week. 

New York City’s Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) has yet to share any plans with respect to its 2020-21 offerings. We have looked into arranging private busing without success as bus companies are planning to function at percentage capacity and do not have sufficient fleets to take on any new routes. While we hope that OPT will be up and functioning for all students who are entitled to busing (grades K-6), we encourage you to make alternative arrangements for your child. 
Student “Zoomers”

We know that some students cannot attend school in person this year due to the pandemic, and we are committed to serving each of these students and continuing to steward their intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth even when they cannot be in physical classrooms. To this end, our education team is working to develop a “Zoomers” program that combines elements of learning within their full class via remote technology, learning in pairs with other students who are either in person or Zoomers, learning offline, and learning directly with teachers and other Zoomers in their grade. In order to properly prepare for the Zoomers program, we will need to know whether your child/children will not be attending school in person in September. You will have an opportunity to share this information with us in response to next week’s update.
Distance Learning Periods

We expect that we will need to return to Beit Rabban Ba’Anan, distance learning, at some point(s) during the school year. Over the summer, our education team is working to incorporate all our learnings from teachers, parents and students to improve the distance learning experience for all stakeholders and to ensure that we retain all the beautiful elements we experienced in the last school year. We will share more of our plans with you in the months to come. 

We understand that Gan parents remain particularly concerned about the possibility of distance learning for their children and families. Gan parents will receive an email next week outlining a tuition accommodation model that will be implemented in the event of distance learning.
Summer Touch Points

We have scheduled three parent town halls before the start of school to discuss updates as plans continue to evolve. We have also scheduled student town halls for 1st-7th grades on August 25. The schedule of town halls is included below, and note that all town halls will take place in the Beit Rabban community meeting room . Gan families are also welcome to join a morning session on Zoom with Michael and Tom Mondays-Thursdays at 9:30AM through the end of July.
  • Parent Town Halls: Town Hall #1, Wednesday, July 22; Town Hall #2, Monday Evening, August 10 or Tuesday Morning, August 11; and Town Hall #3: Monday Evening, August 24.
  • Student Town Halls on August 25: 9:00AM Shorashim (1st Grade); 9:30 AM Shtillim (2nd Grade); 10:00 AM Anafim and Alim (3rd and 4th Grades); and 10:45AM Chativah (5th-7th Grades).
  • Beit Rabban Community Zoom Meeting Room: Meeting ID: 513-983-8807