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Back to School Parent Handbook 2023-24

Back to School 2023-2024

As we look forward to the start of school, we are excited to welcome all Senesh students into
the building full time. Once again we are in a strong place to open school in a way that we can
keep everyone safe and continue to offer a meaningful and rich program that reflects our
mission, vision, and values.

If you would like a PDF version of our handbook, you may download a copy here

Vision, Mission, and Values

As we adapt to new ways of operating during a pandemic, we hold steadfast to our school’s values, vision, and mission including a commitment to equity in our community.

Our Vision:

We envision a world shaped by Senesh alumni who lead with a strong sense of self, a connection to community, and a commitment to doing good in the world. 

Our Mission:

Rooted in Jewish values and wisdom, we foster a love of learning guided by intellectual curiosity and social responsibility in a vibrant and inclusive K-8 independent school community. 

Our Values: 

Our values, which are deeply rooted in Jewish teachings, guide us in all that we do at Senesh.

Kindness – Chesed – חסד
We treat each other with respect and act with compassion and empathy.

Openness – Elu v’Elu – אלו ואלו
We seek to understand and welcome diverse ideas and perspectives.

Belonging – Shayachut – שייכות
We create a culture that honors the dignity and self worth of each person.

Responsibility – Areivut – ערבות
We support the well-being of others in our community and the world around us.

Perseverance – Hatmadah – התמדה
We approach learning as a continuous journey and persist through challenges.

Daily Operations for the 2023-24 School Year

Bus Service

  • Bus service is provided by New York City. Routes are created by the Department of
    Transportation based on student addresses and their distance to the school. The school
    is not able to make changes to the bus routes.
  • At times the bus may be delayed due to weather or traffic. In the case of a delay, a
    message will be sent via text message.
  • All students who use either bus are expected to act courteously and follow guidelines
    related to masks and social distancing. The driver is the authority, and students must
    abide by the stated rules. Fighting, horseplay, and verbal abuse are not allowed. At the
    discretion of the school, students may be suspended from school bus service.
    Everyone’s cooperation is needed to make school transportation safe and pleasurable.
  • Without a note of a change in plans, children who take the bus will be put on their
    regular bus. This procedure is important for the safety of our students. Any changes
    regarding the bus must be emailed by a parent to the teacher no later than

School Hours, Arrival, and Dismissal

  • Drop off and pick up for lower school will be in the school yard and for middle school
    through the main entrance.
  • Afterschool is available for those who register on Monday through Thursday from
    dismissal to 5:00pm and on Friday from dismissal until 4:00pm
  • We ask parents to do their best to arrive on time for school. Late arrivals will need to
    enter through the main entrance.

School Hours for 2023-24:

    •  Lower School Early Drop Off – 8:00am-8:15am
    • Kindergarten and First Grade – 8:15am-3:20pm (Friday Dismissal 2:20pm)
    • Second through Fourth Grade – 8:15am-3:30pm (Friday Dismissal 2:30pm)
    • Fifth and Sixth Grade – 8:15am-3:45pm (Friday Dismissal 2:30pm)
    • Seventh and Eighth Grade – 8:15am-3:45pm (Friday Dismissal 2:30pm)

Due to earlier Shabbat candle lighting times, Friday dismissals between
November 10, 2023 and February 2, 2024 occur at 1:30pm.

Attendance and Tardiness

  • Regular and timely school attendance is necessary for success in school and will be
    documented daily.
  • Excused absence includes: family event (such as death in family, family emergency,
    serious illness or childbirth), high school visits/interviews (MS only, with note from high school), and illness (with parent notification on each day a child is home ill and in consultation with the school nurse.)
  • Consult the school calendar so vacations and medical appointments do not conflict with learning time.
  • Please inform the main office of your child’s absence by 9:00am.
  • An absence from school for three or more consecutive days must be accompanied by a doctor’s note upon return to school.
  • Parents of middle school students should email their child’s advisor as far in advance as possible, and no later than 9:00am of the specific day, with information about scheduled student absences.
  • Many eighth graders will have virtual visits to high schools during the school day; please inform the Director of Outplacement as soon as these appointments are set, and they will pass on the information to the relevant teachers.
  • Students who miss school for family trips outside of school vacation times are expected to make up all class work and homework on their own; please do not ask teachers to prepare special assignments for these situations.

Chronic Absenteeism

Senesh will work to identify any children at-risk of becoming chronically absent
due to sickness, family situation, or other circumstances by reaching out to
families and providing educational support services that include:

        •  Check-ins with the class teacher to provide work at a rate and level that is
          appropriate to the student’s situation
        •  Additional support from our Learning Support team, if needed
        • Help arranging or altering any DOE-related services to which the child is
        • Help obtaining the necessary technology to ensure continuity of learning
        • Appointments with our school counselor who can refer out to additional
          services, as needed

To address chronic absenteeism, we will use phone, email, and even
physically-distant in-person meetings to engage and converse with family
members and students who are experiencing difficulty.

If an allegation of educational neglect is warranted due to a custodial parent or
guardian failing to ensure a child’s prompt and regular attendance in school or
keeps the child out of school for impermissible reasons; social services may be

School Closures

  • At times Senesh may close school due to inclement weather, a school specific issue, or
    a city-wide emergency.
  • For snow closures, we follow the decision of the NYC public schools. Please follow news
    announcements for pertinent information. There will not be remote learning should there
    be a snow day.
  • At times Senesh may decide independently to close. In the event of a school specific
    closure or delay, a notice will be posted on the school website and email communication
    will be sent to all parents.
  • The school also uses an outside provider to communicate this information to you through
    text messages delivered to the cell phones we have on file.

Lunch and Snacks

Lunch and Snack Protocols

  • All students will be instructed to wash/sanitize their hands before and after meals.
  • Students will be reminded not to share any food or beverages.
  • Parents should include snacks in the lunchbox for their child. Some snack ideas: fruit,
    vegetables, raisins, popcorn, pretzels, cheese, or rice cakes. Please send nutritious
    snacks that are quick and easy to eat.
  • Food allergies will be accommodated.

Kashrut (Jewish Dietary Laws) and Other Food Guidelines

  • All students should come to school with their own lunch and snacks for the day that
    follow the school’s kashrut policy (Jewish dietary laws). Student lunches brought from
    home must be dairy or parve. No meat or shellfish is permitted. Food brought from home
    does not need to have a hechsher (a rabbinical product certification, qualifying foods
    conform to the requirements of kashrut).
  • Please send a filled and labeled water bottle to school with your child.
  • Please do not send candy to school with children.
  • Soda is not permitted in school.
  • Parents are strongly discouraged from sending glass containers/bottles as cracks and
    breaks can result in serious injury.
  • Due to strict health guidelines, outside deliveries of food from restaurants or from
    parents will not be allowed at any time.
  • Gum chewing is not allowed in school.

Physical Education, Outdoor Time, and Breaks

  • All classes have PE twice a week.
  • All classes have daily recess.
  • Students will also have movement breaks throughout the day.

Parent-School Partnership

Guiding Principles

The Parent-School partnership is an important part of a child’s experience at Senesh and
is essential to building a strong community.

At Senesh:

  • Every family is welcomed and valued. We are all connected to each other and play a
    part in the life of the school.
  • We care about establishing trust and mutual respect between the school and parents.
  • School lines of communication are open and we demonstrate respect in all
  • Staff and parents are mutually committed to building and maintaining an open
  • Families agree to support our educational program that fosters a love of learning
    guided by intellectual discovery, social responsibility, commitment to diverse
    perspectives and experiences, and the development of personal character.
  • Families and staff acknowledge the importance of derech eretz (how one conducts
    oneself in a respectful manner) and the values of honesty, integrity, responsibility, and
    tolerance of diverse opinions.
  • Families and staff agree to accept our open and inclusive approach to Jewish life.
  • Families and staff will treat each other with respect and courtesy in all forms of
    communications, including face to face, written, electronic and social media
  • Families and staff will use electronic communication thoughtfully and will not
    publicly air grievances about the school, staff, or fellow Senesh families on social
    media, via email, or in any written or spoken communication.

Communication with Senesh Teachers and Staff

Our School’s Jewish values guide all that we do, including communications between
parents and staff. Together, we should aspire to communicate with:

  • Kindness – a respectful tone in an appropriate time and place.
  • Openness – transparency, openness to diverse perspectives and the assumption of
    good intentions.
  • Belonging – a culture that honors the dignity and self worth of each person.
  • Perseverance – understanding that productive and ongoing parent-school
    communications are fundamental.

As we embark on the year together, we hope the following guidelines will help facilitate
parent-school communications that are driven by these values.

  • If you’d like to discuss a matter with your child’s teacher, please email them to set
    up a time to speak in person/Zoom or on the phone. We care deeply about
    addressing and resolving any concerns that arise thoughtfully and rapidly and ask that
    parents share matters with the school as soon as possible. Please note that teachers
    may not be able to respond to your emails immediately as they are busy with students
    throughout the day. They will respond to you within 24 hours.
  • While emails are useful for setting up meetings with teachers or answering quick,
    fact-based questions they do not allow for meaningful conversations. Phone calls and
    in-person/Zoom meetings can be arranged via email to ensure productive dialogue and
    have more extensive conversations.
  • We understand the inclination to talk with your child’s teacher when you see them in
    school or around the neighborhood, but please refrain from discussing your child at
    these times as it does not allow for privacy or a thorough conversation.
  • We understand that sometimes your child will report something that leaves you puzzled
    or wanting more information, please do not hesitate to reach out to discuss what
    occurred in school, as we want you to have a comprehensive accounting of events

Ways to Stay Updated

Successful partnerships are built on open, regular, and clear communication. Following is a list
of the many ways that Senesh communicates with parents.

  • Website: www.hannahsenesh.org is updated regularly and includes school news, the
    Senesh store, calendar, forms, blogs, and more. We have created a special section on
    our website as needed for COVID updates.
  • Weekly School News Email: Every week, parents receive an email that includes upcoming school and PA events, special announcements, highlights from the previous week, and links to important school information.
  • Grade Level Blogs: Each grade creates a blog post that includes information describing special learning activities that took place during the previous week and previews upcoming projects and curriculum—a great way to gain insight into your child’s week at school. Kindergarten and 1st grades will have weekly blogs, 2-4th grade blogs will be posted every other week and middle school blogs will be posted monthly.
  • Social Media: We encourage parents to “Like” our Facebook page and follow our Instagram feed for frequent posts of Senesh school life.
  • Email, Phone, and Face-to-Face/Zoom: The entire Senesh staff is accessible by phone and email and is available for face-to-face/Zoom meetings.
  • Frequent Meetings: Senesh hosts a variety of meetings for parents to stay informed and involved including: Back to School Night, New Parent Orientation, Parent Teacher Conferences, and Coffee Talks with our School Psychologist.

Events for Parents

Small classes and regular communication with families through emails, our blog updates,
parent-teacher conferences, Back to School Night, parent meetings, and social media updates
cultivate a sense of trust and community. Below are just some of the ways staff connect with

  • Back to School Night: To meet teachers and learn more about the grade level
    curriculum, program, and procedures, parents are invited to attend Back to School Night.
  • Parent Teacher Conferences: Parents will receive notice when progress reports will be
    posted on Blackbaud in January and in June. All parents receive a secure sign in.
    Remote Parent-teacher conferences will be in November and March. In advance of
    conferences, parents will receive information on how to sign up for appointments online.
    Conference dates are noted on the school calendar. We have a tradition of nearly 100%
    attendance, and we encourage you to attend, whether in person or virtually.
  • Other events with/for Parents: Parents are such an important part of the Senesh
    community and participate in many events throughout the year from attending holiday
    programs to publishing parties for their children and coffee talks with our school
    counselors to social events just for parents.

Ways to Get Involved

Parent involvement is an important part of the Senesh community. Here are just some ways to
get involved at Senesh:

  • Volunteer for classroom and school programs
  • Become a Senesh Admissions Ambassador
  • Help with our community events/programs for the public
  • Assist with fundraising activities such grant identification, major gifts, and sharing the Senesh story
  • Join the parent diversity committee
  • Get involved with the Parents Association (PA)

Parent Association (PA)
As a Senesh parent you are automatically a member of the Parent Association (PA). The PA
develops programs, activities, events, and volunteer opportunities that strengthen our bond with
each other and our school. You are invited to attend PA meetings to help build a stronger
community. Join the PA to:

  • Become a class parent
  • Provide support for families during difficult times
  • Plan teacher appreciation events and acknowledgements
  • Help out at special events including holiday celebrations
  • Plan family and community events
  • Join the social action committee

Parent Diversity, Belonging, and Community Committee
All parents are encouraged and welcome to join the committee that strives to:

  • Celebrate the diversity of our community through events and programs
  • Offer programs that help parents build skills to support their children
  • Create affinity spaces for families

There are many ways for parents to get involved in our effort to help advance the school. Join
us in sharing our school’s story and creating opportunities to engage parents, grandparents,
alumni, alumni parents and friends of Senesh.

The cost of educating a Hannah Senesh student is not covered in full by tuition. Approximately
85% of the school’s income comes from tuition and the other 15% needs to be raised. The
school depends on fundraising efforts to retain our excellent staff, sustain our commitment to
diversity, enhance our school program, and ensure we are keeping our community safe and
healthy. We hope that parents, alumni families, grandparents, extended family members, and friends will participate in Senesh fundraising activities, which will ensure our growth as a unique
Jewish educational community. Email Director of Development Karen Stein
kstein@hannahsenesh.org to get involved.

You can also help expand our community by becoming an admissions ambassador and attend
events to engage prospective parents, make outreach calls, or become a buddy family and help
welcome new families to the school. Contact Director of Enrollment Dana Goldberg at

Creating a Safe Space

School Safety and Security

Visitors to the school building are greeted by a security guard and all non-parent/caregiver visitors are required to sign in and wear a guest name tag. Senesh follows comprehensive school safety and crisis management policies. Faculty and staff are trained in how to respond to emergencies, and drills are conducted regularly to prepare students for a variety of emergency situations.

In case of an emergency, please do not call the main office as our lines need to be open for emergency personnel to reach the school. The school will communicate with parents via email or text as soon as possible. Please be mindful that the student’s immediate safety is our priority.

A central alarm system is utilized for fire and emergency drills. All students and staff in the building participate in ten orderly evacuation and lockdown drills. In the event of an evacuation emergency, students would be escorted to Mary McDowell Friends School at 133-135 Summit Street.

Student Code of Conduct, Biased Behavior, Bullying and Sexual Harassment

Parents are expected to review these  policies for community wellbeing with their child to ensure they are understood. Questions about what is laid out here should be brought to the Head of School or Division Directors.

It is important that school be an environment which is emotionally and physically healthy for all students and staff. In order to foster such an environment, negative acts of a violent, physical, verbal, or emotional nature will be treated seriously . This includes identity based harm and harm that is  adult to student, student to student, and student to adult. 

Biased Behavior

During the school day, students are expected to live the value of Shayachut/Belonging by engaging in behaviors and using language which promote feelings of inclusivity and wellness and belonging. 

In the event students act or speak in a manner that includes making disparaging comments about or singling out a student based on that individual’s race, ethnicity, gender, or other social identities—Senesh staff will follow a school wide protocol shared below to investigate and respond to the incident.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Use of any slur, epithet, or otherwise derogatory language;
  • Displaying any content or media which includes or references any slur, epithet, or otherwise derogatory language, or any symbols which demonstrate a bias toward a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (which includes gender identity and/or expression) or sex.  
  • Reciting or repeating jokes, lyrics, or other such content which contain or reference slurs or other derogatory language, or which otherwise demonstrate a bias toward individuals in any particular protected class;
  • Engaging in physically aggressive behavior toward another individual on the basis of their membership in any particular protected class; and/or
  • Engaging in conduct which is intended to exclude or threaten another individual on the basis of their membership in any particular protected class.

Behaviors not aligned with our school values:

Additional examples of unacceptable behaviors include, but are not limited to the list below.  Students may also be disciplined for common sense violations or violations of school community values other than those enumerated below.

  • Weapons, including but not limited to pocket knives, are not permitted on school premises.
  • Violent or physical behavior (hitting, punching, pushing, tripping, fighting) involving another student or staff or visitor
  • Behaving in a way that is dangerous or compromises the safety of oneself or others, including tampering with fire alarms or possessing any hazardous material
  • Destroying or damaging student work, teacher materials, or school-supplied resources
  • Taking photos, recordings, or videos of faculty, staff, or students without their expressed permission is forbidden. 
  • Ranking or rating members of our community. “Ranking” or “rating” occurs when a person, or group of people, create a list or equivalent that rates or ranks members of our community according to attractiveness, body parts, sexual history, or other factors relating to sex, gender, or sexual orientation.
  • Writing on walls, bulletin boards, or school furniture
  • Stealing or destroying the property of others or of the school
  • Insulting or putting down another student or teacher
  • Serious or habitual classroom disruptions
  • Bullying, threatening, or intimidating another student
  • Sexual harassment
  • Possession, use, selling, distributing, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, including improper use of prescription drugs
  • Smoking or vaping on school premises
  • Cheating
  • Lying to avoid punishment for wrongdoing or otherwise
  • Inappropriate student communication involving cell phones, texting, internet, and messaging
  • Using profane, obscene, or vulgar language
  • Leaving class or school premises without permission
  • Use of a cell phone during the school day without explicit permission by a faculty member

Student Bullying/Harassment Policy

Physical and verbal aggression, the use of abusive language, hazing, bullying, and harassment of any kind are harmful and not accepted. This policy applies not only at school and school sponsored or affiliated trips and events, but also to certain conduct that occurs outside of school and in cyberspace. The school reserves the right to discipline those in the school community who engage in harassment/bullying of other school community members at any location and at any time if such harassment/bullying causes a substantial disruption to the school community at the discretion of the school. 


Harassment/bullying is the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by threats, intimidation or abuse, including cyberbullying, that either:

  1. Has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being
  2. Reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety
  3. Reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause physical injury or emotional harm to a student
  4. Occurs off school property and creates or would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment, where it is foreseeable that the conduct, threats, intimidation or abuse’s effect might reach school property.  

Bullying behavior can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Deliberately excluding another community member
  • Threatening physical harm
  • Teasing
  • Taking, hiding, or damaging someone’s belongings
  • Gossiping about another community member
  • Name calling
  • Pushing, tripping, kicking, hitting 

Sexual Harassment

Bullying/harassment includes sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a specific abusive behavior that involves unwanted and unwelcome sexual attention. A behavior is considered sexual harassment on the basis of the target’s perception of “unwelcome” sexual behavior; in other words, it is defined by the impact of the action rather than the intentions of the harasser(s). Sexual harassment also includes any unwelcome behaviors which create a hostile or intimidating learning environment.

Harassment may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Touching, rubbing or pinching of a sexual nature
  • Unwanted requests for sexual favors or dating
  • Unwelcome stories, comments, or jokes concerning the anatomy, behavior, sexual preferences, or gender identification of oneself or others
  • Displaying or circulating offensive written or graphic sexual material
  • Sexual gestures or noises
  • Transmitting or causing to be transmitted unwanted sexually-oriented material via email, text, social media, mail or other means
  • Rating individuals based on physical attributes or appearance
  • Pantsing, wedgies, and bra snapping

Other examples of the type of behavior that may constitute sexual harassment include:

  • Demands for sexual activity
  • Sexual flirtations
  • Advances or propositions
  • Sexual innuendos or suggestive jokes
  • Comments of a sexual nature to describe an individual or an individual’s body
  • Any type of coerced sexual activity including sexual abuse
  • Displays of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; obscene gestures or materials
  • Spreading rumors of a sexual nature
  • Leering

The above lists are not all inclusive. Other unwelcome acts of an offensive nature may also constitute sexual harassment/bullying. Sexual harassment can occur between individuals of different genders or individuals of the same gender. 

Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Behaviors of Bias, Bullying, and Harassment:

Adults in the community are prepared and committed to engaging in a process to listen, understand what transpired, and respond with the appropriate resources and actions.

  • Students will be treated with dignity and care
  • Adults will be ready to hear about difficult things happening
  • As necessary, there will be a response to the individual and community
  • When handling cases with multiple incidents, in the moment we will prioritize the most destabilized

As a school with children between the ages of four and 14, we seek to support students with interventions, restoration, and disciplinary action where appropriate, holding students accountable and simultaneously helping students learn from their mistakes. The response to misconduct is dependent on the student’s age, the student’s prior misconduct, the number of prior instances of misconduct, the nature, severity and scope of the behavior. Discipline may include, but is not limited to, suspension or expulsion.

Procedures for Reporting 

  • The school requires all members of the school community (students, faculty, staff, parents, etc.) to report all incidents of bias/harassment/bullying, regardless of who the offender may be. 
  • All Senesh employees are required to report such incidents to the Head of School if they receive a report or otherwise learn of an incident. 
  • Students who believe they have been targets of misconduct should seek help immediately from their parent(s)/guardian(s) and should report such information to their teacher, advisor, Division Director, Counselor, or other trusted adult at school. Similarly, students who have witnessed misconduct, but did not experience it, should also report such information to the individuals indicated above.  We understand students may be apprehensive as to not get peers into “trouble.” The School will uphold anonymity whenever possible and work with a restorative approach to benefit the community. 
  • Parents are asked to reach out to their child’s teacher, advisor, or division director if they believe their child has been a target of misconduct so that the incident can be addressed according to our school protocols and policies.  

The school will take prompt, reasonable action to prevent, investigate, and remedy bias/harassment/bullying. 

  • After receiving a complaint of conduct prohibited by this policy, the Head of School, in consultation with whomever else is deemed appropriate by the Head of School, will promptly investigate the report. This will include conversations and/or written statements with those involved.  There will be at least two people present for these conversations. Depending on the situation this may be someone connected to those involved or not connected. 
  • When deemed appropriate and at the discretion of the School, the School may engage a third-party investigator to conduct the investigation. The School’s investigation is separate from any investigation that might be conducted by law enforcement or Child Protective Services.  
  • School employees and students are under a duty to cooperate with an investigation. 
  • The school will try to be as discreet as possible during an investigation and confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible given the facts and circumstances of the complaint and the need to do a fair and thorough investigation.
  • The school will not retaliate against anyone who in good faith reports a violation under this policy or who participates in the investigation of a complaint. Any person who engages in such retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action including expulsion or termination. 

Responding to a Violation

As a school community our goal is for people to be safely in community together. We are committed to caring for those harmed and for our community as a whole.  We are mindful that mistakes happen and will also care for the misstepper;  engaging them  in restorative practice and additional learning and support as needed.

Response to policy violation includes: 

  • Appropriate disciplinary action, which may include but is not limited to a verbal or written reprimand, referral to appropriate counseling, suspension, or expulsion, in the case of a student or discharge in the case of a School employee.
  • Interrupting the behavior.
  • Involving the relevant school counselor, division director, or other staff in further discussions with the students involved.
  • Creating opportunities for restorative practice with or without the victim present.
  • Engaging in reasonable consequences related to their actions.
  • Contacting the parents of the students involved so that discussions can be further processed and reinforced at home.
  • Providing support and/or requirements as needed to families.

Diversity, Belonging and Community

A focus on diversity, belonging, and community is at the heart of our school’s mission and values.

Diversity Statement 

These principles guide decision-making:

As an open and inclusive Jewish day school in the heart of Brooklyn, we strive to provide an unparalleled, modern academic home that is committed to the rich mosaic of Jewish life. We are committed to intentionally building this mosaic with our students, faculty, administration, and families through their diversity across ethnicity, race, nationality, Jewish identity and practice, interfaith family composition, sexual orientation, gender identity, life experiences, socio-economic status, perspectives and worldviews. We value the dignity and self-worth of each member of our community.

We believe in ensuring that our students are prepared to be global citizens who can be productive agents of change toward a more just world. Our core Jewish value of Openness/Elu v’Elu guides our work in building empathy, promoting tolerance, and valuing difference. We live this value daily at Senesh in our curriculum, programming, admissions, hiring, professional development, and dialogue with our broader community. It is integral to our ongoing journey/Masa as a school to embrace the complex conversation of diversity in the 21st century, which we believe will continue to make our school community even more vibrant and strong.

Senesh faculty promote the school’s commitment to diversity and belonging in many ways, which include: 

  • Curricula that celebrate diversity through historic and present-day lenses
  • Creating an environment of belonging in the classroom
  • Programs and dialogue around embracing diverse attributes, experiences, and perspectives that make our community unique
  • Learning and dialogue about race, ethnicity, and implicit bias
  • Ongoing professional learning through partnerships, workshops, conferences, and peer led learning
  • Partnership with the parent diversity committee and whole parent body to create opportunities to engage with issues around diversity and belonging
  • Community events that welcome members of the public to share in our celebration of diversity

Transgender and Non-Binary Student Support Guidelines

We have also adapted these Transgender and Non-Binary Student Support Guidelines.

Jewish Ritual Practices

Ritual Head Coverings

School policy with regard to ritual head coverings reflects Senesh’s commitment to tradition and to egalitarian values. 

  • All students are expected to cover their heads during prayer and when eating. Given the diversity of our community, some students choose to wear head coverings throughout the day. 
  • Students should come to school prepared with a head covering; appropriate choices include kippot, scarves, and hats. 
  • Specific concerns about the ritual head covering policy should be addressed to the Head of School or to the Judaic Studies Coordinator.

Kashrut (Jewish Dietary Laws)

As an organization, Hannah Senesh observes kashrut, which means that all food that was served at school events (pre-COVID) is certified kosher. Additionally, certain restrictions are put on any foods that are brought into the school building. Our policy aims to balance an authentic communal standard with a respect for individual home practices.

There are many intricacies to the Jewish laws of kashrut, but the basic points are as follows:

  • Dairy and meat products may not be prepared or eaten together.
  • Separate dishes and utensils are used for dairy and meat food. Parve foods, which are neither dairy or meat, may be prepared and served with either dairy or meat dishes and utensils.
  • In order to be considered kosher by the strictest standards, food handling and production must be closely supervised by a trained professional called a mashgiach, which is Hebrew for supervisor.
  • Foods that are certified kosher bear a mark on their packaging called a hechsher, which is a Hebrew word that indicates a state of being certified kosher. While there are many acceptable kashrut certification marks, below are some of the more prevalent ones you may encounter:

Please note, the presence of a K on a package does NOT indicate that the food handling and production has been supervised by a mashgiach, so the food product is not considered kosher by school sharing standards. You may notice some other letters near a food’s hechsher: D indicates that the food is dairy; DE indicates that the food was processed on dairy equipment, but does not include dairy ingredients; P indicates that the food is certified kosher for Passover, in addition to being kosher for the rest of the year. The word parve indicates that the food contains no dairy products.

  • Lunch: Student lunches brought from home must be dairy or parve.  No meat or shellfish is permitted. Food brought from home does not need to have a hechsher (a rabbinical product certification, qualifying foods conform to the requirements of kashrut).

Birthday Celebrations Policy

Class Birthday Celebrations Outside of School: 

We ask you to be sensitive to the religious practices and dietary restrictions of all who are invited. 

  • Parents are asked not to schedule any school gathering on or close to Shabbat or Jewish holidays, so as not to exclude children from the class whose families observe those holidays.
  • Please provide kosher food so that all children can be included in the celebration and be sure to check with other parents regarding food allergies. 
  • When scheduling a party, please be aware of school events by checking the Hannah Senesh calendar to prevent conflicts. 
  • While we recognize the child’s and family’s right to choose who is invited to a party, we hope that in making the list of those to invite you will be as inclusive as possible. In a small school, feelings can be easily hurt; some options are to invite the entire class, or just a small group of students. Excluding just a few students can cause hurt feelings.

Class Birthday Celebrations in School: 

  • Lower school teachers develop ways to make this occasion special for the student and class. While parents are not invited to the classroom, families are welcome to send a snack that can be shared with classmates. 
  • All snacks should be kosher (not homemade) and easy to pass out such as a healthy bar, cookies, or cupcakes. This allows for easy facilitation of the celebration in a classroom setting.

B-Mitzvah Celebrations

Invitations, Timing, and Food 

Celebrating milestones together builds community. As such, we request:

  • Parents invite a child’s entire grade to the b-mitzvah
  • While we realize that this may not always be possible, we hope that in making the list of those to invite you will be as inclusive as possible. 
  • Please also use sensitivity in extending invitations to students from other grades. 
  • Please be mindful of the start time of evening parties after Shabbat. 
  • As always, please ensure food served at celebrations is aligned with our school’s kashrut policy


  • The Judaic Studies Department Chair keeps a calendar of B-mitzvah dates to avoid scheduling conflicts. Before you schedule your child’s B-mitzvah, please contact Phyllis Sussman at psussman@hannahsenesh.org to schedule your date.
  • If you have a weekday celebration, we ask that you be respectful of class time when setting the time for the celebration, and choose weekdays when school is not in session. While we seek to be flexible, we also want to avoid a significant impact on the academic program.

In School Celebration

  • Every child will have an in-school b-mitzvah celebration. 
  • This includes tefillah led by our b-mitzvah student, a short presentation about how the student embodies our school values, and a gift from the school.
  • Students may give out a small party favor distributed by Senesh staff.

Monitoring Health Conditions

Vaccination Policy

Students entering Senesh must fulfill the requirements of the State of New York for immunization each year. Any child who is found to be out of compliance is required by the NYS Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to be excluded from all classes and activities until they comply. This will be strictly enforced by the Senesh Health Team.

To ensure the health of our community, the Flu vaccine is required for all students and staff no later than November 15, 2023. Proof of vaccination should be submitted to the nurse at nurse@hannahsenesh.org.

You can access your Magnus Health SMR account by clicking here. Students are considered fully vaccinated two weeks following the second dose.

Should you require a medical exemption; please email Nathalie Cabot at ncabot@hannahsenesh.org for the documentation required to make a request for a medical exemption. The Senesh Health Team will review your application in consultation with our legal team. We will let families know whether their applications were approved or denied as soon as possible.

Form Submission
Medical, Emergency Information and Administration of Medication forms must be submitted to the school via the Magnus platform for all students before the start of the school year. 

Student Illness

  • There will be a threshold for health care with a zero tolerance policy for sick children and staff. 
  • If your child has any symptoms (fever, chills, headache, runny nose, congestion, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, body aches, or loss of taste/smell) they should not come to school.
  • When children become ill in school and appear to need home care, parents will be telephoned to pick up their children. Parents are expected to arrive within an hour of being called.
  • In the unlikely event that there is a serious injury or illness and parents cannot be reached, every effort will be made to reach the individuals listed on the Emergency Form. 
  • If none of those listed can be contacted, Hannah Senesh is authorized to determine the immediate course of action.

Medications in School

  • Administering medication to students must be done with caution and only with written permission and specific guidance. Even in the event of an emergency, we will not make a decision to give a child unauthorized medication, nor can we accept authorization over the telephone to give a child medication. 
  • Tylenol and Advil will be administered by the school nurse or the Director of Operations only if permission is given on the Emergency Form and signed by a parent or guardian.
  • Students are not to carry any medication, including over-the-counter medications, for self administration. Exceptions for asthma medication are made with written permission by parents.  
  • If parents wish the school nurse or designee to administer medication to their child during school hours, we require that an Administration of Medication form be completed and returned to the Director of Operations. The school nurse and the Director of Operations will be the only employees to administer medication to students.
  • Both prescription and non-prescription medication must be sent in to the school nurse in the original bottle. Prescription medications must also include the attached pharmacist’s label. An order for the medication must be provided from a licensed physician, dentist, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or podiatrist. The medication label must also list the student’s name, medication, and prescriber. All orders must be renewed annually or whenever a change in treatment is made. It is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to ensure that the medication is replaced when expired and that medication is refilled as needed.
  • The school staff will not dispense any medication without written permission from the parents as well as a doctor’s order. Please note that the Administration of Medication form releases the employees of Hannah Senesh Community Day School from any liability arising from administration of this medication.

First Aid

Minor first aid will be given in school and a parent/guardian will be notified if necessary. In an emergency, if a parent cannot be reached or cannot retrieve the student in a timely manner, the student will be taken to the nearest hospital by EMS ambulance transport and the parent/guardian will be notified.

Asthma Care

  • Children who can use a nebulizer at home will be asked to do so. 
  • Parents will be asked to send an inhaler and spacer to school for use during the school day. 
  • In an emergency, if a nebulizer has to be used in school, the nurse will execute the nebulizer treatment.

Food Allergies

Hannah Senesh is a food allergy sensitive school. The school nurse maintains a list of student allergies and works directly with classroom teachers to make them aware of student needs. The teachers are given a list of children with allergies at the beginning of the year and these children are accommodated. Teachers are taught how to respond to food allergies and allergic reactions. Children are instructed not to share food and to wash hands before and after meals. 

Children with food or other allergies should be identified to the school nurse, and information regarding exposure discussed and outlined. Those students who have epi-pens/auvi-Q prescribed must have one non-expired device in the nurse’s office at all times. For further information, contact Nathalie Cabot at ncabot@hannahsenesh.org.

Head Lice and Bedbugs

If it is discovered that your child has head lice you will be called to pick up your child. Children will not be readmitted to school without a note from a lice checker (unrelated to the child) who has determined their hair to be nit-free. If your child returns to school with any remaining nits or without a note, you will be asked to take your child home and complete the nit removal process. Speak to your pediatrician or call the school office for referrals to assist you in caring for your child. If you discover that your home has bed bugs, this must be reported to the school office. Appropriate measures must be taken to address the infestation. More information is available at www.nyc.gov/health. Contact the school office for further protocol details.

COVID Protocols

In addition to guidance from the CDC; NYS Department of Health; and NY State Education Department; and medical, health, and educational professionals, we have school leaders and medical and health professionals who advise on important decisions related to the pandemic.

Illness Prevention Strategies at Senesh:

  • VACCINATION: Students entering Senesh must fulfill the requirements of the State of New York for immunization each year. To ensure the health of our community, the Flu vaccine is required for all students and staff no later than October 15, 2023.
  • STAY HOME WHEN SICK:  People who have symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, such as cough, fever, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, or a fever should stay home.
  • VENTILATION: Increased ventilation, upgraded air filters, additional classroom air purifiers
  • HAND HYGIENE: Sanitize hands upon entry to school and before eating
  • RESPIRATORY ETIQUETTE: Covering coughs and sneezes
  • HOT SPOT CLEANING: Regular cleaning of high-frequency surfaces that kids touch throughout the day

      If A Student or Member of a Senesh Household Tests Positive for COVID:

      • Please notify the school nurse at nurse@hannahsenesh.org and Director of Operations Nathalie Cabot at ncabot@hannahsenesh.org as soon as possible.
      • Isolate for 5 full days. You may end isolation after day 5 if you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms are improving. 
      • After isolation, wear your mask through day 10.
      • With two sequential negative tests 48 hours apart, you may remove your mask sooner than day 10.

      Counting 5 Days of Isolation: 

      If you had symptoms

      • Day 0 of isolation is the day of symptom onset, regardless of when you tested positive
      • Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started

      If you had no symptoms

      • Day 0 is the day you were tested (not the day you received your positive test result)
      • Day 1 is the first full day following the day you were tested
      • Families will be notified of positive cases of students or staff in their grade level. Confidentiality is paramount and no names or identifiable facts will be shared/discussed internally or within our messaging to families. 

      Teaching and Learning

      Social Emotional Wellbeing

      Senesh supports students and parents during through our robust multi-tiered social-emotional support system:

      • In addition to our classroom teachers, the school is served by two school counselors (one for each division) who are available to students, families for individual and family appointments, as well as consultation with teachers about student needs in the classroom. 
      • Counselors send out regular emails to parents to address the unique emotional challenges of a public health crisis and meet individually with parents upon request. 
      • Our weekly grade-level meetings, attended by teachers, the school counselor, learning specialist, and division director are an opportunity to share notes on students of concern and track progress in getting students and families the help they need. When necessary, outside referrals for follow up will be made. These meetings enable the staff to ensure support systems are in place for students.

      Responsive Classroom Approach

      Responsive Classroom philosophy is the cornerstone of our approach to building community and connection.

      • All teachers have been trained in the Responsive Classroom model, which weaves social-emotional practices into the structure of the school day. 
      • Responsive Classroom morning meetings build a strong sense of community and set students up for academic and social success. 
      • The Responsive Classroom model provides teachers with specific language and practices to implement engaging academics, positive community, effective classroom management and awareness of the developmental needs of their students. 

      Social and Emotional Curriculum

      • Our school has a robust social-emotional curriculum. Faculty training has allowed us to develop a common language and understanding around students’ social-emotional needs. Teachers deliver this curriculum through lessons and activities on topics such as self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision making. 

      Middle School Advisory

      In middle school, our advising system is the cornerstone of social-emotional support.

      • The advising curriculum addresses the social-emotional needs of students at each grade level. 
      • Each grade has a team of advisors who work with the student support team to provide social-emotional support for their advisees. 
      • The advising program includes weekly advising meetings as well as morning meetings and individual check-ins. 
      • Advisors are the bridge between school and family as we partner to support students. 

      Educational Support

      Senesh is fortunate to have a strong learning support program in place. Our learning support team includes two full time learning specialists.

      • Teachers at each grade level at Senesh meet weekly to discuss student progress and concerns. 
      • Meetings in the lower school are also attended by the lower school director and full time lower school learning specialist while meetings in the middle school are attended by the middle school director and full time middle school learning specialist. 
      • After hearing about student concerns, the team will make recommendations to the teachers on ways to differentiate instruction  and scaffold assignments to support the child. 
      • The learning specialist may observe the child in the classroom to gain additional insights. The team will follow up to assess if these interventions are sufficient.
      • If the student continues to struggle, the next step would be for the learning specialist to work with the child, one-on-one or in small groups either in the classroom or in the learning center to provide targeted instruction. The duration of this support will depend on the childs’ learning needs and progress. 
      • The learning specialist will assess the student’s progress and adjust instruction accordingly. The learning specialist works with students in each grade of the lower school and is in close contact with the classroom teachers.

      If a student is not making satisfactory progress,

      • The division director, learning specialist, and classroom teachers will meet with the parents to recommend an evaluation in order to gain understanding into the student’s learning profile. 
      • Some of our families seek a private neuro-psychological evaluation while others may proceed with an evaluation through the department of education. 
      • Once an evaluation has been completed the teaching team will reconvene to review the recommendations and accommodations.  

      There are a number of students at each grade level who receive support through the Department of Education, including academic support from a SETSS provider, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. These providers are not employees of the school but use spaces in the building to support the students. These providers will be allowed in the building this fall.

      Open communication, a collaborative approach, and providing these necessary interventions and modifications will support student progress and individual learning needs being met.


      • Access to Technology: In the lower school, teachers have access to devices such as chromebooks, laptops, and iPads as needed. The middle school operates on a 1:1 program where each student is given a device to use for school-related purposes in school and at home.
      • Platforms and Security: Senesh uses Google Classroom and Seesaw as online platforms for instruction and learning. Zoom is our preferred video conference tool. Our technology team evaluates all of our platforms including security concerns. Students are taught about internet safety, digital citizenship, and how to safely manage their school accounts. Student Hannah Senesh email accounts can only be used to email within the Hannah Senesh domain. 

      Supporting Student Work at Home

      There are many ways that parents can help their children develop independence and organizational skills, and become responsible for their school work.

      • Provide a designated workspace for regular homework and remote classwork. This may be in the child’s room, at the kitchen table, or any other appropriate space. Ensure that the work-space is quiet and well-lit.
      • Depending on the age of the child, parents can involve students in helping set up and maintain their workspaces. When a child is sharing a space with siblings or parents, individual workspaces can be demarcated with colorful tape. 
      • Keep distractions to a minimum. Loud music or television programs can prevent students from doing their best work. When doing school work on a computer, students should not be interacting with friends online or playing games.  
      • Provide a space and system for organizing school materials by subject. This could be at a desk, storage bin, or cabinet. This saves children from having to hunt for the materials they need. Encourage children to declutter and reorganize their workspace at the end of each week.
      • Help children establish a time and routine for additional homework to be completed after the school day. Many children benefit from a snack and break once school has finished. Homework should be done as early in the evening as possible. 
      • Express an interest in your child’s work. Answer occasional questions, but please avoid doing your child’s assignments. Encourage your child to inform the teacher if they are having difficulties completing assignments.  


      Judaic and general studies teachers coordinate homework assignments so that the children are not overly burdened with homework. There will be homework four times a week for grades 1-8. Extensive homework will not be assigned over weekends or Jewish holidays.

      When a student is absent, parents of lower school students should email the teacher to request homework and to discuss means to get the books/materials home to the child. Middle school students are expected to contact a classmate to find out what was missed. Concerns regarding any homework assignments should be first directed to your child’s teacher.

      Students work at various paces, so there is a range of time that a child may spend completing daily assignments. As students progress through the grades, especially in middle school, time management in regards to long-term assignments increasingly becomes the responsibility of the student. Below is a guide to the approximate amount of time your child may spend completing homework. If you notice assignments taking much longer than noted, please be in touch with your child’s teacher.

      Homework Time Guide (This is in addition to independent reading).


      Grade 1                            15-25 minutes per night

      Grade 2                            20-30 minutes per night

      Grade 3                            30-40 minutes per night

      Grade 4                            40-50 minutes per night

      Middle School                   60-90 minutes per night

      School Supplies

      Senesh gives students all necessary school supplies at the beginning of the year. 

      Libraries and Textbooks

      Each classroom has a library in addition to our school library. Both collections are used for organized class projects and student research. In addition, students may borrow books for their personal use. Lost or damaged books must be paid for or replaced.

      Textbooks and trade books are lent to students. Except for consumables, books must be returned at the end of the school year. Students will be charged for books that are not returned or are returned in poor condition.

      Field Trips

      Field trips are an important part of your child’s learning experience. While consent for students to participate in class trips is given by parents when signing the enrollment contract, parents will receive a trip-specific form before each trip with information regarding the date, destination, and schedule. A parent or guardian must sign these forms in order for your child to accompany the class. Students are expected to bring a dairy/parve disposable lunch to school on the day of a class trip.

      Fifth graders participate in an all-day NYC challenge and grades 6-8 participate in overnight class trips. Sixth grade students spend four days at the Teva Learning Center, seventh graders explore Washington DC for three days, and eighth graders travel to Israel for two weeks.

      Evaluation and Assessment

      • Teachers assess student progress by evaluating homework, class work, projects/tests, and participation.  
      • Twice a year, in January and June, parents receive formal progress reports with detailed narratives of this assessment. Additionally, parent/teacher conferences in November and March allow for teachers and parents to meet remotely to discuss student progress and achievement.
      • In addition to detailed narrative sections, middle school students receive letter grades starting in sixth grade. However, only seventh and eighth grade students’ grades are shared externally. 
      • Each teacher has her/his own system for evaluating student work and assigning grades, so please see individual teacher handouts (available at Back to School Night) for more information. 
      • Parents are encouraged to help students remember that teacher comments are as important as letter grades, especially in identifying specific areas of challenge or accomplishment.
      • In May, the school will administer the ERB CTP 5 tests in math and English to students in grades 4-7. These tests help the school evaluate student achievement, and seventh grade scores are used as part of the high school admissions process. 

      High School Outplacement

      • The Director of High School Outplacement facilitates high school admissions. 
      • Meetings are held in the winter for seventh grade parents and again in the fall for eighth grade parents and students to provide an overview of the high school outplacement process. One-on-one Zoom meetings with families are subsequently held to discuss and document thoughts on high schools. 
      • In the fall, additional Zoom meetings are held to finalize prospective high school lists, discuss specifics for individual students, and refine next steps. 
      • By late November/December, students complete the process of applying to both private and/or public schools. 
      • The middle school coordinates teacher recommendations, report cards, and transcript delivery to high schools. 
      • The process concludes when students are notified of acceptances to high schools and make their final choices.

      Transcript and Recommendation Requests

      • Detailed instructions of the high school admissions process are provided for middle school parents.
      • For families in other grades opting to leave Hannah Senesh, two weeks’ notice is required to process transcript and/or recommendation requests. 
      • Requests must be accompanied by completed paperwork and must include all contact information.
      • In general, transcripts and recommendations are not released to families. Transcripts will not be released unless the family is current with its financial obligations to the school.

      Additional Guidelines and Policies

      Dress Code

      The way students dress contributes to the classroom tone and school culture, and can impact the ability to have a positive learning environment. We expect children to come to school dressed appropriately for work, play, and study.

      • Students must wear comfortable shoes for physical activity
      • For safety reasons, sneakers with wheels are not permitted in school
      • Shoes should be worn that allow for comfortable and safe travel in and outside of the school building
      • Messages written on clothing should be appropriate for a school-age population and respect the values of our community
      • Please label all outer clothing to ensure that lost items are returned to the owner.  Kindergarten and first grade students should have a labeled change of clothes for emergency use, packed in a shoebox and kept at school.
      • Undergarments and private areas may not be exposed

      In the event a child is not following the dress guidelines, the student will be asked to change in accordance with the code.

      Phone Calls

      Students may not receive phone calls in the school office and the office staff is not able to leave the office to deliver messages to students, except in an emergency. 

      Student use of cell phones is not permitted during school hours. In middle school, cell phones are collected at the start of the school day and returned at dismissal. Students can call home from the main office or division director’s office. 

      Lost and Found

      Lost items are likely to be in the child’s classroom. If a parent has a concern of a missing item, please have your child check their classroom and then email the teacher if an item is still not found.

      Gift Policy

      Each year when families enroll at Senesh, they pay a Trip/Faculty Gifts/PA fee. The Parent Association (PA) uses a portion of these funds to coordinate collective gifts for all school personnel, which are distributed at Hanukkah and at the end of the school year. The PA also plans special events and gifts for Staff Appreciation Week and at other points during the year. This policy allows us to preserve equity and a professional balance among teachers, students, and parents.

      Senesh requests that any individual expressions of appreciation be done with small handmade gifts or personal notes.

      Fees and Contracts

      An enrollment contract, tuition schedule, and scholarship fund pledge form are sent to parents after the winter vacation, and are due back at the end of January. A student is officially enrolled when this signed contract and the registration fee have been returned. Tuition payment options are listed on the contract. 

      The scholarship fund contribution supports economic diversity at Senesh and will be acknowledged as a charitable donation to the school.

      In the event that a family’s account goes into default, the parents or guardians will be notified by certified mail of the default. The family must either pay the remainder of the school fees that are due or approach the Senesh office to discuss their present situation. The Business Manager will work with parents to revise their payment schedule. If no agreement can be worked out, dismissal from the school may be necessary. Final student progress reports will not be released until all financial obligations are fulfilled for the school year. No student will be admitted to class in September if there remains any prior balance or if the enrollment contract is not on file.

      After the signing of enrollment contracts, the parents’ obligation to pay the fees for the year is unconditional, notwithstanding the absence, withdrawal, or suspended enrollment of the child.

      When a student transfers from the school, a written statement is required from the parents giving the school permission to forward student records. This statement should inform the school administration of the child’s final day of school. Transcripts, report cards, and other student records are not sent to the new school until financial obligations are satisfied.

      For further information regarding business matters, please contact Business Manager Shai Carmel at scarmel@hannahsenesh.org.

      Contact Information

      To email any member of the school staff, use the following formula: First initial of the staff member’s name, followed by his/her last name, @hannahsenesh.org. (i.e. to email Nicole Nash, the correct email address is: nnash@hannahsenesh.org). Staff will make every effort to respond within 24 hours. All email addresses can be found on the Faculty page of our website.