COVID-19 protocols and practices
Current as of 02/14/2022
The Akiba-Schechter Health Committee continues to monitor studies, data, and guidelines from the CDC, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
We are have been open for in-person learning throughout the pandemic.
- Keep COVID-19 out of ASJDS
- Minimize transmission of COVID-10 if it comes in to ASJDS
- Communicate about COVID-19 quickly and transparently
1. KEEP COVID-19 OUT of Akiba-Schechter
- Social Covenant: Every community member attends online meetings to read and sign the Akiba-Schechter Social Covenant that guides behavior both in and out of school.
- Daily Health Screening: Every student and staff member must complete and pass a daily health screening.
- The questions are written to over-capture possible concerns. Parents should be prepared for students to stay home more days this year than ever before out of an abundance of caution.
- The questions ask about symptoms of experienced and known COVID-19 exposure for the entire household.
- Household is defined as the people you live with and the people outside of your immediate family with whom you spend time not wearing a mask.
- Building access limited to students, staff and vendors only as neccesary. Only staff and students who have passed the daily health screening will be allowed on buses and in the buildings. Vendors, such as repair people, are required to complete the daily health screening before entering the building.
2. MINIMIZE TRANSMISSION of COVID-19 inside of Akiba-Schechter
- Everyone will wear a clean mask at all times while on a bus or in the building.
- Because of recent surges, we ask that all students and staff wear well-fitting KN95, KF94, or surgical masks. Please take extra care to ensure that your child has a mask that fits snugly to their face that they will wear all day.
- Hand Sanitizing:
- Everyone will sanitize their hands before entering the bus or building, and will do so frequently throughout the day.
- Hand sanitizer stations have been installed outside nearly every doorway.
- Physical Distance:
- An additional bus has been added to the fleet this year to allow fewer students to be on a single bus and to provide more space between sibling groups.
- Class sizes have been reduced and extra furniture has been removed from classrooms to allow for greater physical distance inside school.
- Students will almost always stay in one cohort, in one classroom, for the whole day. Teachers will move about the building as needed.
- When eating, extra caution is taken to ensure at least 6-feet distance between people.
- Ventilation: The HVAC system has been inspected and upgraded with HEPA filters. The filters will be changed regularly. Additionally, air purifiers are in all rooms.
- There will not be any after-school programs to allow more time for proper cleaning.
- Students will not share most supplies, and toys will rotate in and out of the early childhood classrooms to allow for sanitation.
- Bathrooms will be limited in the numbers of users.
- The school bus is considered school grounds.
- Students will be given assigned seats on the bus with ample distance between family groupings.
- Masks will be worn at all times, and there will be no eating on the bus.
- Bus will be sanitized by the bus company before each ride.
3. COMMUNICATE quickly and transparently regarding COVID-19
- Town Hall Meetings: We will continue to host regular town hall meetings to update staff and parents on how successfully our plans are being implemented.
- Mirpa’ah (Health Center): If students feel ill during the school day, they will go to the Mirpa’ah (in the former preschool office suite) to receive care until they wait to be picked up as soon as possible by a parent or guardian. Students who feel ill will not be allowed to return to class.
- In the Event of COVID-19 Diagnoses:
- If we learn of a reported COVID-19 diagnosis, all parents and staff will be notified that same day via email.
- How long cohorts and/or individuals need to be home from school will vary based on the latest medical advice and circumstances.
- Support one another:
- In the event that COVID-19 occurs in our community, we will NOT blame one another; we will support each other.
- We anticipate our community members will encounter situations throughout the year that may be difficult given the terms of our Social Covenant. Parents and staff are expected to reach out to administrators to help find safe ways to navigate these situations.
Parents and staff are encouraged to reach out to any of the committee members with questions or concerns. The committee will continue to meet regularly under a new name: Health and Safety Advisory Committee.
- Alicia Chipman, Director of Teaching and Learning
- Carla Goldberg, Early Childhood Director
- Miriam Kass, Principal
- Jill Kohl, Director of Operations
- Collette Rand, Administrative Support
- Dr. Dana Schinasi, Pediatric Emergency Attending Physician, Lurie Hospital
- Dr. Elisheva Shanes, Assistant Professor of Pathology, Northwestern Medicine
- Heather Waitzman, Director of Student Services
FAQs about School under COVID-19
- Compliance. What will happen if someone does not respect the protocols or Social Covenant? Of course we will look at each situation carefully, but we are not afraid of removing a student or family or staff member from the community, either temporarily or permanently, in the event of non-compliance. Not wearing a mask on the bus will result in the student not riding the bus the very next day.
- Early Childhood Physical Distance and Face Coverings. Do you expect preschoolers to be physically distant and wear face coverings at all times? Wearing a face covering will take some getting used to, and we will work with our students to comply at all times. We do not expect our youngest students to be physically distant while at school, except when they are eating (in accordance with American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines). They will be helped to keep their hands sanitized as much as possible.
- Health Care Providers. Do healthcare providers need to report every exposure to COVID-19 they have in their workplace? No, healthcare providers do not need to report exposure unless there is a breach in their PPE.
- Music? Gym? Will there be music or gym this year? Gym classes will meet outside only at the start of the school year. Music class will be held, but without singing.
- Temperature taking. Why aren’t you taking everyone’s temperature like we have to do at some stores or hospitals? We ask that parents assess whether their child has a fever in the daily health screening, and we do not believe an additional temperature check at arrival will be accurate or necessarily relevant. Less than 60% of children with COVID-19 present with fever.
- Remote Learning. If my child has to stay home, will she be able to connect with her classroom remotely? Yes, we are working out ways for children to stay connected to their learning remotely. It will not be completely synchronous, but there will be face-to-face interaction with teachers and students every day.
- Household? Is my nanny or babysitter a member of my household? Yes. Is the person who cleans my house a member of my household? If the person wears a mask, then no. In order to keep school as safe as possible, Akiba community members should limit their unmasked exposure to people outside of their household as much as possible.
- Conflict averse. I am not comfortable with conflict and I don’t think I will be able to approach fellow Akiba parents or students who I observe violating the Social Covenant. What should I do? We understand that this is a very tricky situation for many. We expect you to be respectful, and not angry, if/when you choose to approach someone to remind them that we are all part of the Akiba community and agreed to the Covenant, so they need to wear their mask properly or stay farther away from one another. Consider saying: “I’m concerned about you and our Akiba community. I need you to please wear your mask when we’re together.” We know this is hard, and we are available to consult with you about these situations on a case-by-case basis as needed.
- Face Shields? Gloves? We’ve heard that some people think wearing a face shield and gloves provides more protection. Why don’t you require them? We believe that wearing gloves provides a false sense of security, and we know that hand sanitizing is more effective and safe. Face shields may be used by staff and students who want an extra layer of protection on top of (not instead of) their face mask, but we do not think they need to be required given the other protocols we are following.
- Metrics for closing school. How will you decide whether to close school? We are keeping an eye on the various statistics, including local positivity rates, case counts, 7-day averages, and more. We are also looking at other things. At this time, we do not have a single metric that we are able to point to that will indicate that we will go remote only. In the meantime, we feel confident that our plans allow for a safe school year.