Message from our Leaders
Dear Hebrew Public Families, 

We hope you are healthy and safe right now; our thoughts are with you and your loved ones during this difficult time. Thank you to so many of you for joining our Town Hall session on Tuesday. While this fall will unfortunately have to look very different from past years, we are committed to working together to ensure it is as successful as possible.

On Tuesday, we shared our current planning for the first part of the school year during a Town Hall Zoom session. You can view a recording of that session here , and a high-level overview of the Town Hall presentation is included below.

Our plans are being developed based on input from families and the most recent guidelines from health experts and city, state, and federal officials. At the same time, we know that the virus is currently surging in a large number of states. If the infection rate increases in our city and state, we may not be allowed to open our schools in the way that we are currently planning. We are preparing for this possibility and please know that the health and safety of our children, families and staff remains our top priority.

At this point, we are planning for a hybrid model that includes a partial in-school and partial remote learning experience to enable extensive safety measures. To meet this charge, we have already raised funds and invested in becoming a 1:1 technology school where each student will have access to a Chromebook to support instruction at home. 

Thank you to each of you who have reached out to ask questions. We have included a section below summarizing many of our current answers for all families’ benefit. 

Thank you for your patience and your generosity of spirit as we work to get back to each of you. Most importantly, we need your continued input to design the best possible model in the weeks to come. On July 31, we will be asking you to fill out an essential form from your school’s leadership where each family will have the opportunity to indicate your preference on your child’s learning experience for the first portion of the school year.

We know this is a time of great uncertainty with no ideal options. We also know that our communities are creative and resilient. We will reimagine and persevere together. 

In partnership, 

Jon Rosenberg, Hebrew Public CEO
Emily Fernandez, Hebrew Public Chief Schools Officer
Jonathan Werle, Hebrew Public Chief Operating Officer
Emily Carson, Harlem Hebrew Head of School
Hadar Dohn, Hebrew Language Academy Head of School
Ashley Furan, Hebrew Language Academy 2 Head of School
Town Hall Overview
Reopening Principles. Hebrew Public launched a Task Force and series of working groups comprised of network and school leadership team members and experts to design our reopening along the following principles: 1) Health & Safety - We will make decisions based on the best available health and safety research to protect students, families, and staff; 2) Family Input - Family feedback is a vital part of our planning so that we can meet student and family needs; 3) Local and State Directives - We will adjust our model as needed to comply with government guidance and directives. 

Current Research Informing Model. Our team has completed extensive review of the latest research on Coronavirus exposure and for how to open schools safely. 

Synthesis of key findings: 

  1. Children are at low risk compared with adults, especially older adults and those with certain health conditions; 
  2. Children may be less likely to spread the virus to others; 
  3. Viral transmission is more common indoors in crowded spaces with poor ventilation where people are in each other’s presence for longer periods of time.
Synthesis of key recommendations: 

  1. Children should be “batched” in groups of no more than 15 students. This allows for social distancing (spacing) within classrooms and limits the number of people each small group of students comes into contact with.
  2. This requires a hybrid model in which only a portion of a school’s students are in the school building on a given day.
  3. A wide range of other health and safety measures should be used, including but not limited to mask-wearing, more outdoors time, enhancement of building ventilation, intensive cleaning, and health screening of students, staff, and visitors.

Summary of Family Input (June 2020). We received 567 family responses to the June school re-entry survey with insights and preferences on hybrid model options. At that time families indicated that being in school “every other day” was the most preferable of the options provided. We also heard significant concerns around student routines, childcare for working families, and health risks with any in-person option. 

Proposed Model for Quarter 1 of 2020-21 School Year. 

Our current plan is to implement a hybrid or “blended” model prioritizing in-person learning for all families who are comfortable with sending their children to school, while also maintaining necessary safety and physical distancing. Most students would come to school two days per week and participate in remote learning three days a week. Your child would come in either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday. Below is a visual of how this schedule would work for a typical student:
Importantly, families will also have the opportunity to choose a fully remote option for the first portion of the school year . This is an important option for students with certain health conditions or whose household may have members in high-risk categories.   

Health & Safety Planning. Each school is developing a detailed health and safety plan including corresponding policies for students and staff. Plans include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Per state orders, all students and staff will be required to wear masks in school and on buses. 
  • Thorough and frequent building cleaning, including deep clean with specialized equipment.
  • Likely installation of sneeze guards between student and staff desks. 
  • Restriction on outside visitors to minimize exposure.
  • No-contact temperature checks for all staff, students, and visitors. 
  • Extended nursing contract and additional COVID safety space.
  • Ventilation analysis and air sanitation enhancements.
  • Enhanced food handling procedures including unitized meals. 
  • Restrictions on sharing items (personalized learning kits).
  • Reinforced handwashing.
  • Staff members and children will be actively monitored for symptoms.

Timeline. While plans may evolve, we know families need to plan. We commit to the following timeline. 
  • July 31: Required family form will be sent to select learning preference for Quarter 1
  • August 14: For families opting into the hybrid option, families will receive cohort assignment
  • August 31: First week of school (please note that the first week of school may be entirely remote, to allow for orientation of students and families to our program model and health and safety rules).
Frequently Asked Questions
What will the in-person learning experience look like?
Students will be limited to small groups (typically between 10 and 15 students) and spaced with individual desks and personalized learning materials. There will be limited interactions between classrooms (e.g. lunch will be served in classes within the small group rather than in a large cafeteria with multiple classes) to decrease mixing of students and limit exposure. We will also be looking for opportunities to maximize time spent outdoors. We will be providing all special education services to all students with IEPs.

Will siblings be able to be in the same cohort?
Yes. While we won’t be able to accommodate family preferences on cohort assignments, we are committed to supporting families and ensuring siblings attend school on the same day. 

If the school has additional spaces, why can’t more students attend and spread across these spaces?
While some of our schools are lucky enough to have additional spaces, we are not able to double our staffing. Our staff will already be wearing many hats leading in-person instruction and remote learning simultaneously.

What will remote learning look like on days when they do not come to the school building?
We have learned a great deal in the past three months about delivering an effective remote learning program. Remote learning will include a combination of synchronous, live instruction and significant asynchronous instruction including pre-taped lessons, assignments & teacher feedback, educational learning platforms and more. We will also provide individual student and family support including family workshops and community-building events. As with our in-person model, Special Education & English Language Learner services continuously implemented and monitored.

What if I can’t support remote learning because of work?
On July 16, the Mayor announced that the City would provide 100,000 child care slots so that adults can return to their places of work. At our end, we are trying to identify neighborhood-based school-age child care options for families who cannot support remote learning at home. We are also looking at the potential for our school building’s common spaces to be used for a limited number of children for remote learning in the school building instead of at home. 

For how long will the hybrid model and enhanced health procedures be in place? What happens if school needs to close again?
We do not know yet. Experts are watching the progress of efforts to slow the spread of the virus. Testing and screening efforts are expanding, as is the use of contact tracing to pinpoint how the virus is being spread. Eventually, effective treatments and a vaccine will be developed. We hope that the hybrid model will only be in place for a portion of the school year, but there is no way to predict that at this point.