YTCTE 2020-2021

What you need to know...

Table of Contents

Town Hall Meetings

September 14, 2020

August 3, 2020

FAQ

We have received many questions and we did our best to answer them all below. This is a work in progress and will be updated as more information and/or questions are received. If you still have a health question please reach out to us at safety@ytcte.org. If you have a distance learning question, please reach out to us at dlsupport@ytcte.org. 

Updated 10/1/20

Keeping Yeshiva Open

In consultation with Da’as Torah, our Board of Directors and our Medical Advisory Committee, and in conjunction with other local schools, we will be postponing the start of in-person learning after Sukkos until Monday, October 19. Since students in our older divisions are properly prepared and can better navigate distance learning, with minimal disruption, Dr. Abe Chames High School and Rohr Middle School will conduct a full schedule of classes remotely, beginning Tuesday, October 13, through Sunday, October 18. However, we understand that distance learning for a short period of time, especially for younger grades, cannot replace in-person learning, and we will therefore not have required distance learning for Klurman Elementary School and Early Childhood on those days. Instead, we will offer some optional distance learning programming for the students while we use these days for Professional Development for our faculty. We will also add the following three additional days of Yeshiva to the calendar, that were originally scheduled to be Professional Development Days: 

  1. Wednesday, November 11
  2. Friday, February 19
  3. Thursday, June 17 (excluding RMS)

The Yeshiva is not making requirements for families regarding Sukkos plans. However, please see guidelines below regarding the requirements to return to campus after traveling or attending non-social distancing events.

 

  1. We encourage everyone to avoid potential exposure, limit unnecessary travel and, where possible, change their plans to prevent any travel after Friday, October 9 (Hoshana Rabba). Families who strictly adhered to all suggested precautions will need to sign a Parent Affirmation that they avoided increased risk of exposure over Sukkos and did not travel out of South Florida after October 9. Alternatively, we are asking families that are unable to sign the affirmation, or are unsure about their possible exposure, to obtain a negative Covid-19 test, not earlier than Friday, October 16, before returning to Yeshiva. For this purpose only, both PCR and antigen testing (including rapid testing) will be accepted for anyone that is non-symptomatic. Areas of particular concern are dancing, kiddushim, meals with many guests and any other large gatherings where proper social distancing measures are not adhered to for an extended period of time. Although it is impossible for us to assess every individual situation, we ask parents to use reasonable judgment to avoid situations with an elevated risk, and when in doubt, get tested. The Yeshiva will provide information about testing options after Sukkos. Any family that does not sign the Parent Affirmation, and chooses not to test for Covid-19, can instead opt to quarantine for 14 days from the end of Sukkos and their return home from out of South Florida (when applicable), and then return to Yeshiva without testing.
  2. Anyone who still chooses to travel out of South Florida for the second days of yom tov must return home by Monday, October 12, and receive a negative Covid-19 test on or after October 16, to be allowed into Yeshiva on October 19. If you come back on a later date, you will need to remain home for a full week before returning to Yeshiva (in addition to getting a Covid-19 test).

Due to the very complex nature of the challenges arising from Covid-19, and the fact that our Yeshiva has needs and issues that differ significantly from the large Public School system, we will not be bound by the decision of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. 

The Yeshiva set up an internal Covid task-force comprising staff members from all departments of the Yeshiva. The task force consults with our Medical Advisory Committee to make suggestions and recommendations to the Roshei Yeshiva and Board of Directors.

Every situation and scenario will be evaluated by the Yeshiva along with the Medical Advisory Committee. Should a scenario arise that we feel requires us to close our doors we will transition to distance learning.

Medical Protocols

Families who were unable to adhere to safe social distancing practices during Sukkos break will be required to get tested, or to extend their quarantine, before returning to campus. See details below.

 

  1. We encourage everyone to avoid potential exposure, limit unnecessary travel and, where possible, change their plans to prevent any travel after Friday, October 9 (Hoshana Rabba). Families who strictly adhered to all suggested precautions will need to sign a Parent Affirmation that they avoided increased risk of exposure over Sukkos and did not travel out of South Florida after October 9. Alternatively, we are asking families that are unable to sign the affirmation, or are unsure about their possible exposure, to obtain a negative Covid-19 test, not earlier than Friday, October 16, before returning to Yeshiva. For this purpose only, both PCR and antigen testing (including rapid testing) will be accepted for anyone that is non-symptomatic. Areas of particular concern are dancing, kiddushim, meals with many guests and any other large gatherings where proper social distancing measures are not adhered to for an extended period of time. Although it is impossible for us to assess every individual situation, we ask parents to use reasonable judgment to avoid situations with an elevated risk, and when in doubt, get tested. The Yeshiva will provide information about testing options after Sukkos. Any family that does not sign the Parent Affirmation, and chooses not to test for Covid-19, can instead opt to quarantine for 14 days from the end of Sukkos and their return home from out of South Florida (when applicable), and then return to Yeshiva without testing.
  2. Anyone who still chooses to travel out of South Florida for the second days of yom tov must return home by Monday, October 12, and receive a negative Covid-19 test on or after October 16, to be allowed into Yeshiva on October 19. If you come back on a later date, you will need to remain home for a full week before returning to Yeshiva (in addition to getting a Covid-19 test).

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 needs to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days. They may return to Yeshiva after 10 days if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and symptoms improve.

If someone in Yeshiva tests positive for COVID-19, anyone who had direct contact with them (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes irrespective of whether the person with COVID-19 or the contact was wearing a mask) will have to be quarantined for 14 days. This may include everyone in their class. In the event there is any question, we will consult with our Medical Advisory Committee to determine what needs to be done based on the specific details of that case.

At this time there is no nurse on campus. The Yeshiva has someone on campus dedicated to Corona related medical issues. The Yeshiva is in direct and frequent contact with members of our medical advisory board, and in that way all medical questions are addressed.

No. If you are routinely required to test for work, your child will not have to stay home when results are pending.

Every child is nurtured and loved at YTCTE. A child who is feeling ill, will of course be dealt with added concern and empathy. If a child is exhibiting symptoms, they will be taken to our waiting room to wait for their parents to pick them up. They can return to Yeshiva once 10 days have passed from the onset of symptoms, they are fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications and have improved symptoms. Alternatively, they can come back once receiving a negative test result.

Yes. The Yeshiva will contact everyone that may have had contact with an infected individual.  It is every parent’s responsibility, therefore, to keep the Yeshiva informed if any student, sibling or immediate family member has tested positive, is awaiting a test result, was exposed to a Covid positive or suspected positive person outside of school, or is symptomatic.

The first step is to email safety@ytcte.org. Our Covid coordinator will contact you and instruct you on the next steps. If your child has a Covid-19 symptom, the child, and anyone else living under the same roof, must stay home until the child with symptoms receives a negative test result. If the result is positive see above – What is the protocol if someone in Yeshiva tests positive for COVID-19?

Based on the guidance of our Medical Advisory Committee, only a PCR test (nasal or saliva) will be accepted at this time.

Because any absence may raise suspicions of it being covid related, as a courtesy to our staff you are requested to inform the division office(s) of your child(ren) as to the nature of their absence.

Due to the complexity of hybrid learning, we are unable to offer distance learning in any situations besides for Covid-19 related issues.

If the child is showing any of the following symptoms, they may not attend school and the school must be informed:

Fever (100.4 or higher), sore throat, a persistent cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, (for students with chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough baseline), body or muscle ache,  headache, vomiting or diarrhea.

We are making every effort to be able to offer immediate zoom access for all grades. However this is proving a lot more complex than anticipated. For most grades we can allow students onto zoom within a few hours of being notified. For Grades 3-5, this is not currently available.  Please email dlsupport@ytcte.org with any questions related to distance learning.

Distance Learning Option

Yes! We have invested a significant amount of money and resources into creating a hybrid option for students at home. All classrooms are being equipped with technology to allow students to Zoom into the classroom. They will not only be able to see the room and hear the teacher, but will also be heard by the class and seen on a 50” screen in the back of the room.

Yes! We have invested a significant amount of money and resources into creating a distance learning option for students at home. All classrooms have been equipped with technology to allow students to Zoom into the classroom. However, please do not make the decision to keep your child home lightly. It has been proven that distance learning cannot compare to in-person learning. For those who cannot return to campus, we are continuing to work on improving our hybrid classrooms. 

If it is feasible for the Rebbe/Morah/teacher, the Yeshiva will have them Zoom the class from home with the students in the room. There will be a staff member present in the room to supervise. Children learning from home will be able to participate as well. If the Rebbe/Morah/teacher cannot Zoom in then a substitute will be brought in to teach.

There will be a camera overseeing the classroom as well as a portable camera that the teacher and/or assistant can move around for a closer angle. The students will be able to be seen and heard by the teacher and students from a 50” screen mounted in the classroom.

Students attending virtually are graded through on-line assessment tools, submission of completed assignments, quizzes and tests and teacher evaluation. Where utilized, project based learning allows for evaluation of the projects, as if the child was in Yeshiva. The evaluation procedures will balance objective standards with an understanding of the student’s challenging circumstances.

We are making every effort to be able to offer immediate zoom access for all grades. However this is proving a lot more complex than anticipated. For most grades we can allow students onto zoom within a few hours of being notified. For Grades 3-5, this is not currently available.  Please email dlsupport@ytcte.org with any questions related to distance learning.

Unfortunately we are not able to offer adjusted tuition for Distance Learning. Our costs to operate Distance Learning are not reduced in a significant way, as almost all Yeshiva expenses are fixed. The exception to this is for JPK students, who will receive a 50% refund for any full week without on-campus classes, and Pre-K, who will receive a 25% refund for any full week without on-campus classes. Charges for optional services (i.e. bus, aftercare, and lunch) will be adjusted accordingly.

On Campus Precautions

Although the Yeshiva can’t offer 6 feet of social distancing in every classroom, we are utilizing all space available to spread out the students as much as possible. This includes removing all unnecessary furniture and replacing large tables and desks with smaller ones to create more space.

An effective method of minimizing the spread of Covid-19 is to keep the students in one cohort (pod, group) of fellow students while in Yeshiva. In ECE and KES, children are remaining in the same classroom throughout the day and not mixing with other children, with the exception of ECE aftercare.  In RMS and DACHS where it is not possible to have students contained in the exact same group of students throughout the day, every effort has been made to limit the groups, either by grade or a similar grouping method. The students’ interaction with others outside the classroom have been greatly minimized by designating areas, clearly marked walkways and elimination of any group gatherings.

Wearing masks is the primary way of protecting oneself and others from coronavirus. All students in Grades 1 and higher, and all staff, are required to wear masks while inside and outside of the classroom. While eating or at recess, masks may be removed. Additionally, the Rebbe/Morah/Teacher may give “mask breaks” from time to time in the classroom while everyone is sitting in their seats. Students in ECE are not required to wear masks; however when they are out of their classrooms (except for recess) they need to wear masks. 

At this time, antibody testing will not eliminate the need for your child to wear a mask on campus or the schoolbus..

Your child can bring in their own cloth mask from home, preferably two or three layers with adjustable straps for greater comfort. It needs to cover the nose and mouth. Masks for children in KES Grade 3 and older, RMS and DACHS must be a solid neutral color, and have no words, logos, pictures or designs on them. Masks for KES children in Grades 1 and 2 may have patterns. Masks for children in ECE may have child-friendly designs.

No. According to our Medical Advisory Board face shields will not be as effective as masks.

All students must wear masks when they are required to do so (see guidelines above). If your child has specific reasons why it’s difficult for them, we encourage you to find a mask that works for your child.

Hot lunch (and Meal Service for DACHS) is still available, in individually wrapped portions.

In ECE and KES lunch is eaten in the classroom with all students at their desks facing the same direction. After lunch, the students and staff  sanitize the room as much as they can. Additionally, there are ongoing deep cleaning and sanitizing of the buildings and classrooms throughout the week by our expanded custodial staff.

In RMS and DACHS, each group  eats their meals in their own separate, large designated area. Meal times are staggered to provide additional separation. The rooms are sanitized regularly.

Given the Miami weather and humidity, learning outside isn’t practical or conducive to learning.

Unfortunately, at this point we cannot allow any parents or guests on any of our campuses (other than in their car in the carpool line). Security has been instructed to only allow staff and students through the gate.

Every student and staff member will have their temperature taken each morning. Students who travel by bus will have their temperature taken before boarding the bus. Students will only be allowed on campus, or on the bus, if their temperature is under 100.4.

The Yeshiva has purchased portable electrostatic disinfecting machines to clean classrooms and playgrounds throughout the day. Additionally, the Yeshiva’s expanded maintenance staff is being provided with ongoing training on proper cleaning and disinfecting of our campus. Lastly, we are using a number of enhanced cleaning solutions that help kill more germs.

Yes! Sanitizer stations have been installed in every room. Students and staff are encouraged to use hand sanitizer when they walk in or out of any room.

Before a class uses playground equipment, the surfaces are disinfected by Yeshiva personnel.The Yeshiva has hired additional cleaning staff to constantly clean high touch areas such as the playground, bathroom, handrails, etc.

Each child is provided with an individual supply box of materials. We also use individual items whenever possible, such as play-doh. Classroom toys are shared by the children; however, we only purchased toys that can be wiped down.

We train and require all our staff to follow all Yeshiva rules, especially Covid-19 protocols. All adults must wear a mask at all times while on campus.  The only exception is when they are seated at their own desk and no one else is present. It is important to remember that staff, parents and students are all one team who need to work together to ensure success.

We reviewed our air conditioning layouts in all the buildings, and based on the advice of our Medical Advisory Committee, upgraded the filters where needed and when possible.

Therapists who are known to the administration and agree to abide by all the staff rules and protocols, are allowed to see students in areas designated by the Yeshiva.

Busing/Transportation

Before boarding the bus, each child’s temperature is taken. Any child with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be allowed on the bus (or in Yeshiva). All students are required to wear a face mask while riding the bus. Each rider uses hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting the bus. There are permanent, assigned seats for all. Students are required to either sit with a family member or with a classmate, where possible. Windows may be opened at certain times during the trip to increase ventilation, at the discretion of the bus driver and chaperone. No eating is allowed on the bus. The transportation company is following all guidelines and proper sanitization procedures. In the event someone on the bus tests positive, if the bus ride was 15 minutes or longer, then anyone sitting within 6 feet of the affected would have to quarantine. In every scenario we consult with our Medical Advisory Committee to determine what needs to be done based on the specific details of that case.

The Yeshiva has been working with the bus company to ensure that the air-conditioning systems are working optimally. Additionally, the air conditioning on the buses will be turned on 20 minutes before arrival and departure.

While we strongly encourage masks at all times, parents will not be required to wear masks while in their cars on the carpool line.

According to current (as of Aug. 4)  CDC guidelines, exposure is considered anyone within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes irrespective of whether the person with COVID-19 or the contact was wearing a mask. Therefore, if the carpool or bus ride was 15 minutes or longer, then anyone sitting within 6 feet of the covid-positive person would have to quarantine (even if wearing a mask). In any case of doubt, the wearing of a mask may help to decide a quarantine might not be necessary. We therefore strongly encourage everyone to wear masks when carpooling (it’s required on the bus for everyone).  In the event there is any question, we will consult with our Medical Advisory Committee to determine what needs to be done based on the specific details of that case.

Aftercare is available for ECE students. After school clubs are currently suspended.

Our 3 Guiding Principles

Yeshiva administrators have been working since before the close of last school year to understand and tackle the myriad challenges that running Yeshiva on campus in a safe and productive manner will entail.  Medical experts, including our own Medical Advisory Committee have been consulted for guidance on the various medical issues that we need to confront. Numerous webinars and networking sessions with other schools locally, nationally and internationally have been attended by our principals and administrators, to gain as broad a perspective as possible and to uncover successful approaches to opening and keeping Yeshiva open safely.

We are governed by a number of guiding principles: 1) The children need to be in Yeshiva.  2) Safeguard where possible, take only a reasonable risk where (a particular safeguard is) impossible. 3) Enable all children to learn.

The Pasuk in Divrei Hayomim Aleph (16:22) that we recite each morning in Pesukei D’Zimrah says: “Do not touch my anointed ones…”   The Gemara in Masechta Shabbos (119B) says that refers to  “Tinokos Shel Bais Rabban.” – schoolchildren.  Rabbi Shlomo Goldberg quotes Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman zt’l as pointing out that Chazal mean to say – don’t only refrain from harming school children but even from touching them, meaning even if the action or decision does not cause them pain, but causes their learning to be disturbed, even that must be avoided.

Thus – our first guiding principle  – to do everything possible to enable our children’s learning to continue in Yeshiva, undisturbed, where it belongs.  

The most effective safeguard to our children’s and teachers’ health currently is for everyone in Yeshiva (including on the school bus) to wear a mask.  Masks will be strongly encouraged or required of everyone who is able to wear one safely.  Exact rules (grade level) will be determined and shared before we open. Personal hygiene, particularly frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing is a second priority.  Indoor physical distancing, will adhere to the 6’ guideline, and at minimum, a 3’ guideline, where practical. Temperature will be taken daily.

This is in sync with our second guiding principle – to safeguard where possible, take only a reasonable risk where impossible.

We are well aware that our one thousand plus students are a thousand plus individuals and there are many personal circumstances that won’t allow for some children to be present on campus.  They are no less precious to us than their classmates.  Arrangements are being made to zoom from the classroom, allowing those unable to attend personally for a day, a week, a month or longer, to be part of their class’ daily lessons and community. The Yeshiva is investing over $100,000 in technology enhancements to make this possible.

These arrangements will help us implement our third guiding principle – to enable all children to learn.

While we had wanted to open school early this year as previously announced, due to the increase in cases locally and across much of the country, our medical advisors are calling for strict social distancing in the two weeks before children return to campus, and actual quarantining, if possible.   Based on this medical guidance and in light of many families’ prior plans to be away, the first day of the school year will be, conditions permitting, BE’H – Wednesday August 26, on campus (our usual opening day in non-Covid times).  Everyone is urged to be extremely careful to follow all distancing guidelines beginning August 12.

Many questions remain.  We want to assure our families that we have a safe and reasonable roadmap to reopening. We will follow government regulations, guidance from our Medical Advisory Committee and will not necessarily be bound by decisions of the local public schools.  We are aware of the many moving pieces and are monitoring developments carefully.  We remain focused on the goal of educating and nurturing our students on campus, while preparing to provide distance learning when and where needed.