What you need to know...
Table of Contents
Town Hall Meetings
September 14, 2020
August 3, 2020
We have received many questions and we did our best to answer them all below. COVID-19 is a new virus, and because of this we learn more about it every day. As information becomes available, the CDC continues to update and change policies and protocol. As our knowledge and understanding of the virus evolves, this guidance may change. If you have any questions regarding our COVID policies and procedures, please reach out to us at [email protected]. If you have a distance learning question, please reach out to us at dl[email protected]
Keeping Yeshiva Open
One of our partnership responsibilities with our Yeshiva families is to open and stay open for on-campus classes during the COVID pandemic. In order to keep our students in Yeshiva, we want to take all steps necessary to prevent mandatory quarantines and class or school closures. We are blessed to have been able to stay open and greatly appreciate the efforts of our families in supporting our protocols. Concerning off-campus activities, the Yeshiva can't possibly have a policy for everything parents may choose to do. The policies and practices we do have in place should serve as a guide to help parents make the best decisions possible, keeping the interests of all our families, students and staff in mind. With that in mind, we have created some guidelines to help clarify the Yeshiva’s expectations for maintaining safe off-campus conduct of students, staff and families.
Simchas & Events
Hosts and Guests
1. Masks should be worn at all times in public settings, other than when actually eating.
2. Individuals from separate households should maintain 6’ social distancing (e.g - 4 people at a 72” round table is recommended)
3. Dancing is only acceptable with individuals from the same household.
1. The number of guests should comfortably allow for adherence to 6’ distancing.
2. Out of town guests should preferably be limited. (Suggestion: limit to parents/grandparents and close relatives or friends who you trust are maintaining safety protocols)
3. Outdoor parties/events should be considered a preferred option to an indoor event.
4. When making a gathering of any type, include in the invitation: “Mask-wearing and Social Distancing expected.”
Exercise diligence in playdates and sports activities. Where practical, limit the children’s social interactions to classmates and immediate neighbors.
Travel out of South Florida
Travel to a new location introduces many new risks leading to potential exposure. It requires much more vigilance and therefore calls for specific guidelines. Before returning to Yeshiva, each family will be asked to fill out a Post-travel re-entry form. The form will have a few options to choose from:
1. Affirm that you wore masks whenever in a public place and were also socially distanced whenever at a public event during the course of your travel. If so, you may return to Yeshiva upon returning.
2. Wait 7 days after you return from travel before returning to Yeshiva. Take a PCR test no earlier than day 5. If negative, you may return to school after completing the form and uploading negative results (One who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days is exempt from testing but still must wait 7 days before returning to Yeshiva).
3. Wait 14 days after you return from travel before returning to Yeshiva. Return to school without a test.
The guidelines above are honor based and presumes that we will all put in our best efforts so that our children may remain in Yeshiva without any closures. We are happy to answer all questions you may have before traveling, or attending or hosting an event. Please email us at [email protected]. May Hashem continue to protect us and enable our children to continue their learning without interruption.
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.
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.
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. They will need to complete a post quarantine reentry form before they may return to Yeshiva.
If someone in Yeshiva tests positive for COVID-19, anyone who had direct contact with them (within 6 feet, for at least 15 minutes, and within 48 hours of their onset of symptoms; 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.
All scenarios regarding potential direct or indirect COVID exposure are evaluated after a thorough investigation of your child’s potential exposure and extensive consideration of all determining factors. Not all situations will warrant a class shut-down and 14 day quarantine. These decisions are only made after reviewing all determining factors
At this time there is no nurse on campus. The Yeshiva has a full time staff member on campus who is dedicated to all COVID related 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 your child is experiencing any symptoms (even if they are not COVID related) we may advise you to do one of the following: pick up your child from school and monitor your child for a day or two until symptoms subside, contact your pediatrician and have them provide guidance and clear your child to return to school, or we may require you to obtain a negative COVID PCR test for your child before they can return to school. All situations are evaluated on a case by case basis. The COVID coordinator will advise when they may safely return to Yeshiva.
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 [email protected]. Our COVID coordinator will contact you and instruct you on the next steps. If your child has a COVID-19 symptom(s), 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, please contact [email protected]
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 [email protected] with any questions related to distance learning.
A runny nose related to allergies is not on our current list of symptoms.
Students who have been determined to have had direct contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 will need to quarantine for 14 days. They will need to email [email protected] and follow instructions for the next steps and when their child may safely return to school.
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.
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.