During the first phase of the pandemic in Spring 2020, we were limited to distance learning. Now we have a plan for in-person learning, enhanced distance learning should that be necessary, and a remote streaming option for in-person learning, which ensures the health and safety of our children and staff and follows state guidelines. View the handbook below or print the Back to School Parent Handbook 2020-2021 Printable PDF.
We know that every household has adopted various behaviors in response to the threat of COVID-19. Our goal is to keep our community safe and our children in school. We hope these guidelines offer us a singular roadmap to follow so that all of us – parents, students, and staff – feel as safe and comfortable as possible and mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in our community. We will be organizing meetings by pods so that parents can discuss these guidelines together and agree on how to practice them in a way that is comfortable and safe for all. We are grateful knowing that each family and staff member will hold themselves accountable and ensure the overall well being of our community.
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.
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.
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, which are deeply rooted in Jewish teachings, guide us in all that we do at Senesh.
In addition to guidance from the CDC; NYS Department of Health; NYS Association of Independent Schools; and medical, health, and educational professionals, we have a COVID-19 Task Group including school leaders and medical and health professionals who advise on important decisions related to the pandemic.
Our decisions are guided by:
Hannah Senesh Community Day School COVID-19 Task Group
Senesh will begin this fall by offering three scenarios to parents:
In-person learning Mon., Tues., and alternate Fri., beginning Fri. Sept. 11, 2020)
Distance learning Wed., Thurs., and alternate Fri.
In-person learning Wed., Thurs., and alternate Fri., beginning Fri. Sept. 25, 2020)
Distance learning Mon., Tues., and alternate Fri.
We are also preparing to resume a full distance learning program if necessary for the following scenarios:
Can you explain the technology that allows remote screening of in-person learning?
Each of the designated Zoom rooms has been outfitted with a combination of computers/ screens, speakers, and microphones that allows remote students to view and participate in the in-person classes. Students see the board and teacher at the front of the room and classmates doing group work.
How is instruction delivered?
Remote students will be present in in-person classes through Zoom. They will follow the in-person schedule of classes. For MS students, on the days when their grade is at home, they will follow the at-home schedule with their classmates.
Can a remote student communicate with the teacher and participate in class?
Remote students can hear the teacher speaking and the teacher can hear the remote student. Teachers can call on remote students and remote students can raise their “blue” hand (as with any Zoom session) to ask questions/make comments.
Can a remote student work with classmates in pairs or group work?
Remote and in-person students will be able to hear and see each other. Teachers will assign pairings/groups.
Can remote students take part in hands-on activities such as art and science?
Teachers will let families know ahead of time what materials and supplies to have at home for hands-on activities There may be times when remote students observe rather than actively participate.
Will the school facilitate social interactions for students who are remote?
Remote students will be able to participate in all Senesh events, gatherings, celebrations and activities as these will all be over Zoom, for the foreseeable future. Remote-only students can also eat lunch with other remote-only students or with their entire pod if they are eating lunch inside.
To achieve physical distancing measures and minimize contact, we have organized students into pods. A pod is a small cohort of students who only interface with each other throughout the day. Establishing pods will help minimize the risk of infection and decrease the number of people who would need to quarantine should there be a positive case of COVID-19. Pod groupings were made by the faculty who know each child and the class as a whole. Pods were created with academics and social emotional needs of children in mind.
What Happens in a Pod:
School hours were determined by the following:
Arrival and Dismissal Guidelines
Middle School 8:15am-3:30pm (Friday 8:15am-2:30pm)
Students will enter the school through the main entrance at 8:15am
Students will self-dismiss through the main entrance at 3:30pm
Fourth Grade 8:30am-3:00pm (Friday 8:30am-2:00pm)
Students will enter the school through the main entrance at 8:30am
Students will be dismissed to parents through the main entrance at 3:00pm
Third Grade 8:45am-3:00pm (Friday 8:45am-2:00pm)
Families will find their assigned spots in the recess yard at 8:45am
Parents/Guardians are asked to wait for their child(ren) in their assigned spots in the recess yard at 3:00pm
Second Grade 8:45am-3:00pm (Friday 8:45am-2:00pm)
Families will find their assigned spots in the recess yard at 8:45am
Parents/Guardians are asked to wait for their child(ren) in their assigned spots in the recess yard at 3:00pm
First Grade 9:05am-3:15pm (Friday 9:05am-2:15pm)
Families will find their assigned spots in the recess yard at 9:05am
Parents/Guardians are asked to wait for their child(ren) in their assigned spots in the recess yard at 3:15pm
Kindergarten 9:05am-3:15pm (Friday 9:05am-2:15pm)
Families will find their assigned spots in the recess yard at 9:05am
Parents/Guardians are asked to wait for their child(ren) in their assigned spots in the recess yard at 3:15pm
For this first phase of reopening, we will not be able to offer earlybird or afterschool programs.
Our community travels to school using various modes of transportation including walking, biking, public transportation, school busing, and cars. We have made recommendations for physical distancing and hygiene to our families including:
Due to the health and safety of our community, Senesh will not be able to offer its school lunch this year. 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).
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:
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 contacted.
Students entering Senesh must fulfill the requirements of the State of New York for immunization each year.
Daily Screening at Home Prior to School
For the upcoming school year, we will use the Magnus Health app as a daily COVID-19 screening platform each morning prior to departure for school. As this is a web-based system, you will have continuous access to your child’s health record as well as the ability to make updates when needed. You can also use the app to make updates to any health forms. Details about this screening app will be coming to parents soon.
Close Contact/Potential Exposure
For questions about Magnus, contact our Director of Operations Nathalie Cabot . For any technical issues with the app, contact customer support at Magnus Health SMR. Also, please feel free to consult the Magnus Health Privacy and Security page .
Screening Upon Arrival at School
Protocols for Students/Staff with Positive Screening Responses
Senesh is partnering with PM Pediatrics as a COVID-19 testing resource and site. PM Pediatrics is an urgent care facility with a Cobble Hill location less than a mile from the school where Senesh will have a dedicated contact to facilitate efficient scheduling and testing for both students and staff.
PM Pediatrics is currently offering the nasal swab (PCR) COVID-19 test with a 2.4 day turnaround time. HIPAA waiver forms signed by parents and faculty will allow the school to collect real-time test results. PM Pediatrics in Cobble Hill will have hours dedicated to Senesh students on September 2nd and 3rd from 9am-noon. Alternate times for appointments can be set directly with PM pediatrics. Test results will be available before school starts the following week and sent directly to school.
PM Pediatrics requires a telehealth screening when they will ask about symptoms, travel, and potential COVID exposure prior to giving the COVID-19 test. We will send information soon about who to contact at PM Pediatrics to schedule the telehealth screening and subsequent COVID-19 test. The cost of the screening and test will be covered by the student’s health insurance. PM Pediatrics takes many kinds of insurance.
Families may opt to utilize other testing facilities and send their results to Director of Operations Nathalie Cabot. If you are testing at a site other than PM Pediatrics, please take account that testing times may vary greatly and parents should account for longer turnaround times, but please make sure your test is done between August 31st and September 3rd.
No child will be allowed to begin school without proof of a negative COVID-19 test that is dated no earlier than Monday, August 31st. Staff will also be tested prior to their return to Senesh. Following testing, all members of our community are expected to abide by the Senesh Community Guidelines noted below. This is the best way for all of us to begin the year together and keep our children in school.
Please note, this year we will require flu shots for all students. PM Pediatrics will also offer flu shots to Senesh students. We will update you when flu shots become available.
Director of Operations Nathalie Cabot is the Senesh coordinator for testing; including for the partnership between Senesh and PM Pediatrics.
If students or staff become ill with symptoms of COVID-19 at school:
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19:
We will notify the state and local health department and follow the CDC and NYS Department of Health guidelines. Families will be notified of exposure and students/family/staff health information will be kept confidential. Confidentiality is paramount and no names or identifiable facts will be shared/discussed internally or within our messaging to families. We ask that the Senesh community please uphold privacy and confidentiality for all of our staff and students.
In coordination with the local health department, the students and teachers in the specific pod that had a person test positive for COVID-19 and other direct contacts such as siblings and those that carpool together will be considered primary contacts/exposed individuals and will follow these steps:
There may be situations in which teachers themselves fall sick, in which case Senesh will make every effort to find substitute coverage. Depending on the number of faculty sick at the same time; Senesh may need to alter the distance learning schedule.
Following COIVD-19 Symptoms or positive PCR COVID-19 testing, returning to learning protocol must include at a minimum:
If a student or member of a Senesh household tests positive for COVID-19 it is imperative that they notify Director of Operations Nathalie Cabot as soon as possible if you, your child(ren) or a close contact has tested positive for COVID-19.
Families will be notified of exposure and students/family/staff health information will be kept confidential. Confidentiality is paramount and no names or identifiable facts will be shared/discussed internally or within our messaging to families. Additionally, we ask that the Senesh community please uphold privacy and confidentiality for all of our staff and students.
Senesh is committed to having the necessary PPE in accordance with public health guidelines for the health and safety of our community. We will maintain a three-month supply of PPE at all times. In case a student or staff member forgets to bring their mask, the school will have a supply of disposable adult and child-sized surgical masks available.
Masks Acceptable for School Use
Masks Not Acceptable for School Use
How to Explain the Importance of Masks to Young Children
The summer months have been spent preparing the facility to reopen in a safe manner while following NYS Department of Health guidelines regarding hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection.
In order to increase ventilation all doors and windows will be open in the school. Improvements have been made to the school ventilation system including:
Signage will be posted throughout the school, in highly visible areas, to remind individuals to:
Signage will also be used to establish traffic flow throughout the building in order to maintain proper distancing. Hallways will be divided into one way lanes in order to limit interactions. Floor signage will be utilized in commonly used areas in order to establish 6 foot distancing.
Senesh teachers rose to the challenge of remote teaching during a global pandemic. As we plan for the year ahead, we are focusing on:
Senesh has and will continue to support students, faculty and staff, and parents during this COVID-19 period in a number of different ways. Our robust social-emotional support system is multi-tiered:
Lower School Responsive Classroom Approach
During the coming school year, Responsive Classroom philosophy will be the cornerstone of our approach to building community and connection in our low density model or if we return to remote teaching.
In addition to the Responsive Classroom approach, our lower school already has a robust social-emotional curriculum in place. Faculty training has allowed us to develop a common language and understanding around students’ social-emotional needs. Teachers deliver this curriculum through regular lessons and activities on topics such as self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision making.
In addition to explicitly teaching social emotional skills, teachers intentionally introduce a social emotional lens to other areas of curriculum. For example, students examine the feelings and motivation of characters in books, the decision making process of public figures in social studies, and the dilemmas and conflicts faced by biblical figures.
Middle School Advisory
In middle school, our advising system is the cornerstone of social-emotional support.
Our hybrid-model provides us with exciting opportunities to allow students to work and engage with classmates who are not in their pod during the days when they are learning from home. In addition, programs such as electives, student government and our buddy program, which will all happen remotely, provides opportunities for students to connect across grade-levels, building a sense of community and allowing students to connect around shared interests.
As educators and policy makers across a wide range of fields have rightly noted, students with special needs and/or learning differences need extra attention and prioritization in the coming year. Senesh is fortunate to have a strong learning support program in place already, and we expect to make full use of it in any of the scenarios we might encounter next year. Our learning support team includes two full time learning specialists.
If a student is not making satisfactory progress,
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
Senesh conducted surveys of its parents and faculty to determine what access they have to technology and the internet. To prepare for all scenarios and ensure quality education and equity for all students, we will have an individual device for each student in 2nd-8th grades to be used for in-person and distance learning. Students will travel to and from school with their device. In addition, faculty and staff will be provided devices upon request.
We have invested in the following devices:
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.
This year will present unusual challenges. Our lower school students will be returning to school five days a week while our middle school students will be following a hybrid model that combines in-person and remote learning. Students in all grades may experience periods of quarantine at home and full-time remote learning.
No matter which of these learning scenarios your children are in, parents, students, and teachers are an inter-connected team in the educational process. This fall as students return to school and transition back into the learning environment, regular communication between teachers and parents will be all the more important. Teachers will carefully monitor students’ academic, social, and emotional progress as the school year opens. Parents should encourage their children to inform their teachers when they need help with assignments. Parents should also share any broader concerns that they have with their children’s team of teachers.
There are many ways that parents can help their children develop independence and organizational skills, and become responsible for their school work.
During in-person learning and remote learning:
During remote learning:
–maintaining consistent bedtimes and wake-up times
–ensuring students are dressed and have eaten breakfast prior to the start of the remote school day
–limiting snacks to break times in the remote schedule
–encourage students to be physically active during the day
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). During distance learning these guidelines may be altered.
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
All students will be given necessary school supplies at the beginning of the year. Additionally, each child in grades 2-8 will be given a device to support in-person and remote learning. Students are responsible for carrying their device between school and home.
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.
At this time, there will be no school field trips. We will utilize opportunities to bring guests and experience into our classrooms virtually. If at such time field trips are allowed, 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 disposable lunch to school on the day of a class trip.
The Parent-School partnership is an important part of your child’s experience at Senesh and is essential to building a strong community.
Successful partnerships are built on open, regular, and clear communication. Following is a list of the many ways that Senesh communicates with parents.
Your children are always our first priority and we look forward to partnering with you to help them learn, grow, and be an integral part of the Senesh community. Our School’s Jewish values guide all that we do, including communications between parents and staff. Together, we should aspire to communicate with:
As we embark on the year together, we hope the following guidelines will help facilitate parent-school communications that are driven by these values.
We are dedicated to helping your child thrive at Senesh and appreciate your assistance.
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 parents:
Parent involvement is an important part of the Senesh community. Here are just some ways to get involved at Senesh:
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:
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 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 Admissions Annette Powers.
The PA collects funds from families and coordinates collective gifts for all school personnel, which are distributed twice a year, at Hanukkah and at the end of school. Additionally, the PA provides special and gifts of appreciation during staff appreciation week and at other points during the year. Senesh requests that any individual expressions of appreciation be limited to student-made cards or personal notes.
Visit this page for sample schedules for grades 1, 4, and 7 (in-person day and remote day).
How to Talk to Your Children about the Fall
We are so excited to go back to school! School is going to be a bit different than before, but you will still have lots of fun and learn with your teachers and friends.
Keeping Us Healthy
Arrival and Dismissal
Classroom Learning Time
Connecting in New Ways
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: email@example.com). Staff will make every effort to respond within 24 hours. All email addresses can be found on the Faculty page of our website .
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.
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 the school nurse.
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.
To reduce the transmission of germs, only students, faculty, staff, and essential personnel will be admitted into the building. Visitors to the school building are greeted by a security guard and all non-parent/caregiver visitors are required to sign in. 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 orderly evacuation and lockdown drills. This year drills will take into account social distancing requirements and other steps to minimize the risk of spreading infection while conducting drills. Senesh will follow the requirement that schools conduct 8 evacuation and 4 lockdown drills each school year.
Evacuation Drill Protocols
Lockdown Drill Protocols
Students will be instructed that if it were an actual emergency requiring evacuation or lockdown, the most imminent concern is to get to safety; maintaining social distancing in an actual emergency that requires evacuation or lockdown may not be possible and should not be the first priority. In the event of an evacuation emergency, students would be escorted to Mary McDowell Friends School at 133-135 Summit Street.
It is important that school be an environment which is emotionally and physically safe for all students and staff. In order to foster such an environment, negative acts of a violent, physical, verbal, or emotional nature will not be tolerated. Parents are expected and encouraged to review these policies with their child to ensure they are understood.
As a school with children between the ages of four and 14, we seek to support students with interventions and disciplinary action where appropriate, holding students accountable and simultaneously helping students learn from their mistakes. Our intent is not to suppress or punish normal and developmentally appropriate behaviors. 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.
Examples of unacceptable behaviors include, but are not limited to:
The above list includes some examples. It is not a comprehensive or all-inclusive list. Students may also be disciplined for common sense violations or violations of school community values other those enumerated above.
Harassment/bullying is the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by threats, intimidation or abuse, including cyberbullying, that either:
Acts of harassment/bullying shall include, but not be limited to, those acts based on 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.
Prohibited conduct includes, but is not limited to: epithets, slurs, quips or negative stereotyping that relate to any of the categories above. This list is not all-inclusive. Other unwelcome acts of an offensive nature may also constitute harassment/bullying.
Bullying behavior can include, but is not limited to, the following:
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:
Other examples of the type of behavior that may constitute sexual harassment include:
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 Bullying/Harassment
The school requires all members of the school community (students, faculty, staff, parents, etc.) to report all incidents of harassment/bullying, regardless of who the offender may be. The school will take prompt, reasonable action to prevent, investigate, and remedy harassment/bullying. Reports should be made to a member of the faculty, staff, or administrator. 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.
If comfortable doing so, students are encouraged to inform the offender that the conduct is unwelcome and requesting that the bullying/harassment stop.
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 complaint. 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.
If the school determines that this policy has been violated, the violator will be subject to 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.
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.
Over the past two years, we have created a space for ongoing learning and dialogue about race, ethnicity, and implicit bias. This included extensive professional training, curriculum development, and parent engagement. These actions have helped to create and to nurture an inclusive community, to allow us to stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed, and to respect, honor, and embrace differences. Our work began with intention when the Senesh Board of Trustees adopted a 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.
Please see our Transgender and Non-Binary Student Support Guidelines.
In partnership with prominent organizations, our faculty is engaged in ongoing training and development. Below are some examples:
Faculty incorporated learnings from professional development in curricula across the school. The following is a list of some of this ongoing work:
A focus on diversity, equity and inclusion is at the heart of our school’s mission and values, and our community is inspired to take our work to the next level of antiracism. Programs that will foster this evolution include the following:
School policy with regard to ritual head coverings reflects Senesh’s commitment to tradition and to egalitarian values. Both boys and girls 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.
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:
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 pareve. 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).
Class Parties: There will be no food shared at celebrations this year due to COVID-19.
Outside of School: We ask you to be sensitive to the religious practices and dietary restrictions of all who are invited to events outside of school. Parents are encouraged not to schedule any school gathering virtual or otherwise 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 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 all the girls, or all the boys. Excluding just a few students from any of these groups can cause hurt feelings.
Celebrating milestones together builds community. As such, we request that parents invite a child’s entire grade to the b’nai mitzvah, virtual or otherwise. 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. In a small school, feelings can be easily hurt; some options are to invite the entire class. Excluding just a few students from any of these groups can cause hurt feelings.
Please use sensitivity in extending invitations to students from other grades. In order to be inclusive, we ask you to be sensitive to the religious practices and dietary restrictions of all who are invited to the party, including the start time of evening parties after Shabbat. Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Judaic Studies Coordinator.
The Judaic Studies Coordinator keeps a calendar of bar and bat mitzvah dates to avoid scheduling conflicts. Before you schedule your child’s bar or bat mitzvah, please contact Phyllis Sussman at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your date.
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.
In the event a child is not following the dress guidelines, the student will be asked to change in accordance with the code.
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. If a student has a concern they should speak to their teacher.
Due to school protocols during COVID-19, students will remain in one classroom for the duration of the day, except during their designated outdoor time. 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.
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 email@example.com.