School Opening Guidelines and Procedures 2020-21

We have officially opened our doors for the 2020-2021 school year both in person and virtually. Rodeph Sholom School believes that in-person school is best for most students academically and socially, even with the adjustments we have made to make in-person school as safe as possible. Our hope is to hold classes as many days as possible in the school buildings this fall, but we are in a position to pivot to a fully distance learning program as needed.

For families who are either not comfortable with in-person school or cannot attend in-person school due to health reasons, Rodeph Sholom School will provide a distance learning program. We remain committed to providing remote access to class for those who are not physically in the school building.

Working under the assumption that there is a strong chance that distance learning will be needed for some of the school year, we are prepared for a robust distance learning program. Faculty have focused on how best to deliver engaging and meaningful online instruction, using both asynchronous and synchronous methods, while meeting the academic and social-emotional needs of their students.

Seeing our community come back together both in person and virtually has been extremely gratifying. Our day to day operations incorporate guidance from the New York State Education Department, New York State Department of Health, New York City Department of Health, CDC guidelines, and New York State Reopening Guidance for Religious and Independent Schools.

Below is a detailed outline of our current procedures and protocols. As protocols evolve we will continue to update them here.

Thank you for your continued patience, support, and entrusting us with your children.

With Gratitude,
Danny Karpf
Head of School

Past Communications from Head of School

Community Commitment

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

Quarantining and Isolating

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • Quarantining and Isolating (*Updated 10/5/20)

    There are two categories of individuals:

    1. Those who are infectious or possibly infectious (those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have COVID-19 symptoms) who will isolate.
      • Those community members isolating do so for at least 10 days (from the onset of symptoms or from the day tested) - but possibly longer depending on when symptoms dissipate.
      • Anyone isolating due to symptoms is asked to get a PCR test (a rapid PCR test is acceptable and most recently added is the Rapid Molecular test) to allow for quicker contact tracing and quarantining of others who may have been exposed.
      • Isolation may end before 10 days if the symptomatic person receives a negative COVID-19 test and is symptom-free for 24 hours without medication. 
      • While isolating, individuals should remain at home and stay physically distant from others.
    2. Those who have been exposed or have potentially been exposed (including due to travel from the NYS restricted list) will quarantine.
      • Those community members (children or adults) quarantining do so for 14 days because symptoms and a positive test can appear up to 14 days after exposure.
      • A negative PCR test does not lead to a shorter quarantine period.
      • While quarantining, individuals should remain at home as much as possible, but can go out if absolutely necessary (doctor visits, etc.) while remaining physically distant and masked. Students in quarantine should not have play dates or be involved in outside activities.
      • If an area comes off the NYS restricted list during the quarantine period, the quarantine period does not end early (the change is not retroactive).
    If your child is a contact of a contact, there is no need for your child to isolate or quarantine.

    In order to help community members understand the protocol for managing the most likely situations we will see this year, we have prepared the following flowcharts. All flowcharts will continue to be adjusted as medical guidance is updated.

    In all situations, Nurse Vicki has discretion to determine the need to isolate or quarantine. These decisions will be made to err on the side of caution in order to make it more likely that we will be able to limit exposure and spread of COVID-19 in our community, thus leading to more children having the opportunity to be in school as much as possible while staying healthy.
  • Flowchart Scenario: My Child Has COVID-19 Symptoms

    Click here to view the "My Child Has COVID-19 Symptoms" flowchart.
  • Flowchart Scenario: Someone In My Child's Cohort Has COVID-19 Symptoms

    Click here to view the "Someone In My Child's Cohort Has COVID-19 Symptoms" flowchart.
  • Flowchart Scenario: Someone Who Has Been In Contact With My Child Has COVID-19

    Click here to view the "Someone Who Has Been In Contact With My Child Has COVID-19" flowchart.
  • Flowchart Scenario: Someone Who Has Been In Contact With A Student In My Child's Cohort Has COVID-19

    Click here to view the "Someone Who Has Been In Contact With A Student In My Child's Cohort Has COVID-19" flowchart.

Monitoring Health Conditions to Ensure Detection of Infection

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • Screening for Students, Faculty, and Staff

    We are using Ruvna as our daily screening for COVID-19 this year. Each morning, community members receive a secure, single-use link to their phone. There are no sign-ins, downloads, or apps. The text message or email includes a screening with a series of questions including symptoms, temperature check, recent travel, potential COVID-19 exposure, etc. It takes between 1-2 minutes to complete. Based on the information in your screening, you immediately receive further instruction. If you pass your screening, you receive a barcode to present at arrival. If you do not fill out the questionnaire, you will be asked to fill it out before you are allowed to enter the building. Your temperature will also be taken at the door before entering the building.
  • Testing Protocols

    Whenever a member of the community is getting a COVID-19 test, the following is our current practice based on the advice of our medical team and guidance from government officials:
    • The “gold standard” is a PCR test and most recently added is the Rapid Molecular test.
    • When someone with symptoms is isolating, they are not required to get a test, although without one they cannot return to school for 10 days. Additionally, getting tested will support the community so we can more accurately contact trace and advise on quarantining if the symptomatic person tests positive for COVID-19. 
    • An antibody test is not yet valuable for either contact tracing or return-to-school purposes.
  • Testing Responsibility (*Updated 9/25/20)

    Students, faculty, and staff will be referred to their primary care physicians for testing or may choose to get tested at a location of their choice. See the below section for a list of COVID-19 testing locations.
    • If you go to a test site run by New York State, there is never any charge for your test.
    • If you go to a test site operated by local governments, private companies including pharmacies and medical practices or not-for-profit organizations, you are advised to check with the testing site and your insurer in advance of being tested to confirm you will not be responsible for any fees associated with your test.
  • Testing Locations (*Updated 9/30/20)

    Click here to see a list of COVID-19 testing locations.
  • Early Warning Signs

    Our tracking app will collect data, monitor trends and compile contact tracing notifications. Metrics will be determined by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

Safety Precautions: School Facilities for In-Person Instruction

List of 17 frequently asked questions.

  • Capacity and Space Configurations

    In preparation to return to school, Rodeph Sholom School has made accommodations for the entire student body, faculty and staff to return in time for the beginning of the academic year in as safe an environment as possible. We have created, to the greatest extent possible, a socially distanced learning environment in our facilities in combination with providing PPE for all faculty and staff as well as students taking public transportation to school.

    In classrooms, each student in Kindergarten-8th Grade has an individual desk or table. These desks are spaced as far apart as possible in classrooms and are facing one direction. Hallways and stairwells have been redirected to be one-way wherever possible, and we are teaching students to maintain distance when moving through hallways and stairwells. We are also significantly reducing how often students move through hallways by having specialists and Middle School teachers moving to classrooms instead of students.

    In offices, we are utilizing room dividers, partitions, and sneeze guards where necessary to maintain social distancing guidelines.
  • Movement Throughout Buildings

    Movement within the school has been redesigned to meet guidelines. Movement through the hallways and stairwells is limited to essential traffic during school hours, for instance, necessary office visits, scheduled bathroom breaks, scheduled recess/PE, and arrival/dismissal. Floor decals, markers, and posted signage designate safe distances and traffic flow. Dedicated “up” and “down” stairwells, clearly marked with arrows, guide students, faculty, and staff safely through the buildings.

    To limit students’ interaction with specialist teachers, some specialists will conduct their classes outdoors (i.e. PE) and/or via Zoom. Most specialists will come to each individual classroom and wear face masks, face shields, maintain distance, and limit their time in each room.

    Elevator use is limited to one passenger per trip at 78th & 79th street (with the exception of younger students who may need to be accompanied), with dedicated and clearly marked waiting areas. The North elevator at 83rd street is exclusively for student use between the hours of 9:00 am and 11:00 am. Mask use, as always, is required and regulated.
  • Drop Off and Pick Up (*Updated 9/18/20)

    Multiple entrances are being used, arrivals are staggered, and students are directed to use the most direct path to their classrooms - while wearing face coverings. Tents are set up outside of both buildings for inclement weather during drop-off and pick-up. Stairwell directions have been repurposed for efficiency (i.e. all staircases lead upstairs in the morning, and downstairs at dismissal).

    To minimize risk of exposure, parents are not allowed into the building. If students are picked up mid-day for any reason, they are only allowed to return to school following symptom screening as done in the morning during arrival.
  • Face Coverings (*Updated 9/18/20)

    Students and teachers are required to wear 3 ply masks (at least 3 layers) at all times inside our buildings, other than eating and drinking during designated times.

    3-PLY cloth face masks without a vent valve are acceptable. As per social distancing guidelines, masks are required to be worn both inside and outside at all times with the exception of high exertion exercising while outside during PE, with a distance of no less than 12ft apart. Students are required to arrive at school wearing a mask and bring two extra masks to keep in their backpacks if needed. Extra masks are available for students should they need one. Some faculty and administrators wear face shields if they are in a higher risk group or are teaching multiple cohorts during the day due to their position.
  • Outside Learning and Recess (*Updated 9/18/20)

    Recess is separated by cohort and uses a staggered schedule to limit intermingling.

    Recess at 79th Street is on the playground and skydeck. 84th Street recess is in the courtyard and rooftop playground. We also use the playspace and the gym at 84th Street, as well as the park.

    The playground, skydeck (79th Street), courtyard and playground (84th Street), and gym (both locations) are cleaned and sanitized frequently.
  • Air Circulation and Filtration (*Updated 9/18/20)

    An HVAC engineer provided an assessment and made recommendations for air systems throughout our buildings. The school buildings have systems to bring in fresh air to all rooms. We have also made two significant enhancements:

    1. We upgraded our filters throughout the buildings to high-rated MERV13 (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) filters for both 79th and 84th Street. These will provide the best air filtration to capture smaller particles throughout the buildings.
    2. We also purchased new equipment to purify air in each classroom. Each classroom is equipped with UV-C and HEPA air purifiers. The HEPA filters trap particles, which are then treated with UV light, to guard against airborne pathogens and microorganisms such as mold, bacteria and viruses.
  • Cohorts

    Students are divided into small cohorts of no more than 14 students. Spaces are matched to the size of each cohort. Cohorts remain together throughout the day and do not intermingle with other cohorts, even in the same grade.
  • Cleaning and Disinfection (*Updated 9/18/20)

    Facilities staff have established a thorough and rigorous cleaning schedule to clean and disinfect classrooms as well as high touch areas. Touch-free sanitizers are being utilized in all common spaces, and hand sanitizers are available in all classrooms and offices.

    Classrooms are cleaned and sanitized every evening. Facilities staff continue to keep a cleaning log to track disinfection of high-touch areas (bathrooms, playground equipment, stairwell banisters, etc.) during the day. Additionally, cleaning kits have been assigned to each classroom for use between regularly scheduled cleanings or during class.

    Electrostatic sprayers are being used in cleaning playgrounds and other high traffic areas, such as shared bathrooms. They are also used for overnight deep cleans.
  • Bathrooms (*Updated 9/18/20)

    Bathrooms have been updated to limit contact. RSS has installed toilet bowls outfitted with lids, touch-free towel dispensers, and touch-free soap dispensers in each bathroom. Bathrooms have been assigned to each cohort based on distance to the classroom. We have limited how many cohorts use each bathroom. Whenever possible only one student will be allowed in each bathroom at a time, and all bathrooms are disinfected regularly.
  • Hand Washing Requirements (*Updated 9/18/20)

    Students, Faculty, and Staff are required to wash their hands (or use hand sanitizer):
    1. Upon entering the building
    2. Before/after eating
    3. Before/after refilling water bottles
    4. After using the restroom
    5. After sneezing/coughing, touching face
    6. Before/after changing masks
  • Transportation (*Updated 9/18/20)

    The school provides KN95 masks for families, faculty and staff for use on public transportation. Students taking public buses are expected to follow guidelines provided by city officials.

    If a child on any DOE provided bus tests positive for COVID-19, the students from Rodeph Sholom School bus will be quarantined for 14 days.

    All transportation concerns should be directed to Bridget Morgan.
  • Food Services (*Updated 9/18/20)

    All grades are eating lunch and receiving snacks in their classrooms. Students are eating in a socially distanced manner. On certain days with pleasant weather, lunch may be eaten outside. Students are instructed to wash their hands before and after eating or use hand sanitizer. Rodeph Sholom School food service staff delivers food to all classrooms at 79th Street, or parents send in lunch with their children at 84th Street. Food is delivered in recyclable boxes and large garbage and recycling bins are in each classroom. All utensils and boxes are recyclable or disposable.

    Measures continue to be taken to protect students with food allergies. As always, school nurses communicate regarding students’ allergies with all adults who work with them. Parents of students in classrooms with students with severe allergies have been notified regarding any items that cannot be sent in for lunch (since families will be permitted to send in lunch in ED and MS this year).

    Regular water fountains are no longer available for use to limit transmission of COVID-19. Instead, water coolers are in every classroom, and children are expected to bring their own reusable water bottles. Disposable cups are also provided should students forget their water bottles.
  • Distancing Outside of School (*Updated 9/18/20)

    For the safety of all Rodeph Sholom School students, families, and staff, we emphasize the importance of practicing physical distancing outside of school. Due to research that indicates asymptomatic individuals can be vectors for COVID-19, we ask that all community members minimize interactions with others and use recommended safety precautions when outside of school and home. Our ability to enjoy a safe and uninterrupted learning experience in the N-8 classroom is contingent upon our collective willingness to navigate this pandemic wisely. Please refer back to our Community Commitment by clicking here.

    Please remember the following guidelines:
    • Wear a mask when you are dropping off or picking up from school
    • Make sure you are physically distanced from others, and depart immediately after dropping off or picking up your child.
    • Children should wear masks during play dates.
    • Effort should be made to minimize play dates outside of the cohort with few exceptions (no more than one play date per week outside of the cohort).
    • Playgrounds are to be avoided. We encourage playing on the grass in the park instead.
    • Sports and other after school activities should follow the same guidelines we follow at school.
    • We recommend that all Shabbat and holiday meals should be with family only.
  • Parent Visits and Large Group Events

    Parents are required to wait outside during arrival/dismissal times, and all individual parent meetings will be conducted virtually. All large group events will be virtual, including grade-wide parent events, and curriculum nights, at least through December.
  • Teacher Absences (*Updated 9/18/20)

    We are confident that with our current faculty and our new fellows for each division, we are able to provide additional coverage when necessary.
  • Outside Visitors (*Updated 9/18/20)

    To prevent exposure and transmission of the coronavirus, only adults who work at Rodeph Sholom School (ie. Faculty, Staff, DOE Providers) and students are allowed into any school building. Outside visitors are limited to DOE providers, who use the same precautions as specialists in the classrooms. Rental of spaces such as the Gym have been suspended through December to reduce the chance of transmission and contamination. Deliveries are made outside whenever possible. When deliveries are approved in advance to come inside the building, delivery personnel will be prescreened for COVID-19 symptoms, will have temperature checks before entering the building, will stay masked at all times, will be accompanied by school personnel, and will depart the building as soon as possible.
  • Athletics, Extracurriculars, and After School Programs (*Updated 9/18/20)

    • Interscholastic sporting events are suspended through December.

    • Our in person After School Programs are taking all necessary safety precautions. For further details please visit our After School brochure.

    • We will no longer hold formal before-care programs. However, we can accommodate students who must arrive earlier than their designated arrival time within their cohorts.

Mental Health and Emotional Support Services and Programs

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • Mental Health, Emotional Support Services and Programs

    Awareness of the mental health effects on students is a priority for the new school year. Protocols concerning the mental and emotional wellbeing of faculty, staff and students will be adjusted accordingly. Per our regular procedures, teachers, administrators, and advisors will refer any students having particular difficulties to our two school psychologists and our school counselor. These in-house providers will make referrals to outside providers if necessary.
  • Supporting Faculty Mental Health

    Faculty and staff are encouraged to reach out to school psychologists and counselors as needed. We are also exploring other opportunities for social-emotional support for staff using external community resources.
  • Supporting Student Mental Health

    Many faculty have engaged in professional development this summer specific to supporting students in returning to school during this pandemic. We are prioritizing creating space for individualized connections with teachers, and in small groups so every student feels recognized and heard. Faculty conducted virtual family check-ins before the first day of school to connect with students and address any concerns or to begin proactive support for students who might experience separation anxiety in the first weeks of the school year. As always, social and emotional opportunities are integrated into existing curricula. Using read alouds and novels during team meeting times, cohorts will explore themes relevant to attending school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Containment to Prevent Spreading of the Disease if Infection is Detected

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • School Health Offices (*Updated 9/18/20)

    • Our Early Childhood health office is staffed by Nurse Mona Slota with the assistance of Aimee Akers R.N. (646 438-8525)
    • Our Middle/Upper School health office is staffed by Nurse Stephanie Bellin, with the assistance of Shanice McGhie LPN. (646 438-8535)
    • Any individual experiencing symptoms at school will be immediately evaluated by the nurse and if necessary isolated and monitored to protect them and other members of the community.
    • Once isolated, emergency contacts will be notified and will be asked to arrange for the student to be picked up within an hour.
    If any student has signs or symptoms of COVID-19, faculty will notify the school nurse by telephone. The teacher will ensure that the student has a face mask. The school nurse will wear PPE while assessing the student for symptoms of COVID-19. If the student is presumed under investigation, the student will be placed in an isolation room. Staff and faculty will follow the same procedure for themselves.
  • Isolation

    If upon evaluation by the school nurse, students, faculty or staff show symptoms of COVID-19, they will remain masked and will be placed in a designated isolation room. We have designated multiple isolation rooms on each campus for students who develop symptoms during the day to wait while parents are coming to pick them up.

    Students’ parents will be notified for pick-up, or in the case of faculty or staff members, they will be sent home. Parents will be given instructions to see a health care provider regarding testing. Faculty and staff will be given the same instruction. After testing, the student, faculty or staff member will remain quarantined at home until their diagnostic test is completed. Parents of the cohort will be notified of a person being sent home with symptoms and will be updated with results as available.
  • Collection

    Parents should collect students who are presumed positive within the hour. Instructions will be given to the parent, guardian and/or emergency contact that the student must be seen by their health care provider. The parent, guardian and/or emergency contact will take private transportation with the student and adult wearing a mask to their health care provider.
  • Infected Individuals

    If a student, faculty or staff member’s test returns positive, they must notify the Pandemic Health Coordinator, Vicki Dine, and isolate at home for 10 days. The isolation period will begin two days prior to onset of symptoms. Contact tracing will begin at this point. When their term is complete, when symptoms are resolving and fever free without the use of fever-reducing medications for 24 hours, they may be allowed to return to in-person learning or work.

    Additionally, the infected student, faculty or staff’s immediate contacts (family and cohort) will quarantine for 14 days from the last date of contact with the infected person before returning to school/work. Family members (siblings) will need to be quarantined, but not the sibling’s cohort. We will maintain flexibility case by case to require a quarantine if we feel it is in the best interest of the community’s health and safety and request parents’ understanding if such an event becomes necessary.

    If a student, faculty or staff member’s test returns negative, after completing a 14 day quarantine, they may return to school when symptoms are resolving and fever free without the use of fever-reducing medications for 24 hours.

    In order to help explain the different scenarios to families, Rodeph Sholom School will provide flowcharts that specify what level of exposure requires quarantining.

    New York currently requires a 14 day quarantine for people returning from international travel, specific states, and certain locations, and we expect families and faculty/staff to follow the government's requirements.

Exposed Individuals

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • Travel/Quarantine

    The Governor recently signed an Executive Order instituting an incoming travel advisory for all individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19.

    The travel advisory requires that any individual entering NYS from a restricted state, quarantine for 14 days from the last date the individual was present in the restricted state.

    The list of restricted states is maintained by the NYSDOH and can be found at the following link https:/ (under the “Restricted States” tab) The NYSDOH has the most accurate and up to date information about the travel advisory.

    *The requirements of the travel advisory do not apply where the individual is merely passing through restricted states for a limited duration (i.e, less than 24 hours) in the course of their travel.  Examples of such brief passage include but are not limited to: stopping at rest stops in the course of travel by vehicle, bus, and/or train; or lay-overs in such locations in the course of travel by air, bus or train (presuming social distancing protocols have been followed in transit).

    In addition, please be reminded that a mandatory quarantine order issued by the CDC continues to be in effect for anyone traveling to the US from any country that is considered high risk level 2 or 3. (quarantine for 14 days upon arrival/return to the US).

    Considering the significant health and safety risks posed by the further spread of COVID-19, you are personally responsible for complying with these mandatory quarantine orders.

    Mandatory quarantine means that you:
    • Stay home for 14 days from the date you returned from the restricted state or international travel
    • Do not report to work or school
    • Practice social distancing and ensure appropriate face covering for nose and mouth if you must leave quarantine (for food, prescriptions/medicines, medical visit/testing)
    • Monitor for symptoms of COVID
    For your personal health and safety, we encourage you to rethink pre-planned travel to a state that’s since been restricted. Plan your return to include the 14 day quarantine period

    If you do not develop any COVID symptoms during the 14-day quarantine period, you are generally able to return to work on the next regular workday following the 14-day quarantine period. If you reside in the same household with someone that has returned from travel in a restricted state or international, you are not subject to a mandatory quarantine as long as the individual effectively self-quarantines, however, it is suggested that those who care for children have their children quarantine as well if it is impossible to effectively remain distanced from them.

    Interim Guidance for Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State Following Out of State Travel
  • Children with COVID-19 Symptoms

    For the health and safety of the entire community, if your child has COVID-19 symptoms, please click here to view the "My Child Has COVID-19 Symptoms" flowchart and contact Nurse Vicki Dine.
  • Disinfection of Areas

    If an individual has tested positive, we will immediately close off areas used by that individual. Outside doors and windows will remain open for 24 hours to increase air circulation in the area. After waiting 24 hours, we will deep clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick.
  • Contact Tracing

    The Pandemic Health Coordinator will work with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in contact tracing efforts using the protocols, training and tools provided by the New York State Contact Tracing Program. The Pandemic Health Coordinator is certified from The John Hopkins University Tracing course.
  • Communication

    Communication will be sent to other families in the student’s cohort to notify them of a positive test without naming the student. All cohorts will then be required to quarantine for 14 days. 

Closure Triggers

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • Necessary Closures

     If infection cannot be contained or if closure is otherwise necessary and/or required by the state or local department of health we will take all necessary actions. Closure will be determined by the number of COVID-19 cases (students or staff) in the school at one time, or if there is a series of single cases in a short time span, school leaders and the Pandemic Health Coordinator will work with the local board of health to determine if it is likely that there is transmission happening in the school. If there is transmission beyond a single cohort, school officials will close part or all of the school for 1-3 days for deep cleaning, and will decide whether or not to close part or all of the school for a 14-day quarantine period. If we must close our buildings, we will immediately transition to remote learning.