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Back to School Parent Handbook 2020-2021

Back to School Parent Handbook 2020-2021 

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 2020-21 Parent Handbook.

The Senesh Community

Community Guidelines

Hinei mah tov u’mah na’eem, shevet achim gam yachad
How good and how pleasant it is for us to be together.
Our tradition teaches, Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh, the entire community is responsible for one another. Indeed, each of our individual actions can have a direct impact on our larger Senesh community. By leading with empathy, and in the spirit of moving from “me” to “we”, we ask for every member of our community to commit to the health, safety, and success of the 2020-21 school year by following a set of community guidelines.

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.

MASKS
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
GROUPS
  • Limit playdates to one-on-one interactions to ensure social distancing is possible and ensure children are masked. 
  • Avoid group gatherings. This includes multi-family get-togethers, group playdates and sleepovers, team sports, and birthday parties. 
  • Limit your own interactions with adults outside your household; always social distance and wear a mask.
OUTDOOR SPACE
  • Choose outdoor activities over indoor activities whenever possible. 
  • Use masks and practice social distancing
TRANSPORTATION
  • If carpooling, wear masks, ride with windows open, and leave space between passengers. 
  • If using public transportation, wear a mask, wash hands/use hand sanitizer after exiting, and leave space between people to allow for physical distancing. 
  • Follow the NY State Travel Advisories regarding necessary quarantines following travel to states on the list.
ILLNESS
  • Provide accurate and timely submission of daily morning health screenings.
  • Keep children home from school if they have any symptoms of illness.
HYGIENE
  • Model and practice hand hygiene: wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and/or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
  • We would strongly prefer Senesh families only participate in virtual extracurricular activities for the fall semester. 
  • Should you choose to participate in in-person extracurricular activities, please take all precautions (masks, distancing, sanitizing) and be advised that contact with a positive case from an extracurricular activity will result in a 14-day quarantine.
HOUSEHOLD
  • Caregivers, babysitters, nannies, and cleaners who live outside of your home, should wear masks and practice social distancing and good hygiene. If possible limit the number of people you have working with your family. 
WELLNESS
  • Schedule visits to health care providers to make sure their children stay up-to-date on well child visits that include routine and mandatory vaccines including for the flu.
  • Model a positive attitude with your children. Their emotional well-being is ours to protect and we know that children are greatly influenced by their family’s behaviors and attitudes.
For more information on ways to prevent community spread of COVID-19 and protect yourselves, please refer to the CDC health and safety guidelines, the NYS Department of Health guidelines and NY State Travel Advisories.

Vision, Mission, 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 strive to demonstrate compassion and empathy.
  • Openness – Elu v’Elu – אלו ואלו
    We seek to understand diverse perspectives and embrace those with different ideas and backgrounds.
  • Responsibility – Areivut – ערבות
    We support the well-being of others in our community and the world around us.
  • Perseverance – Hatmadah – התמדה
    We apply ourselves in all we do and earn the satisfaction of seeing things through, especially when the challenge is great.
  • Journey – Masa – מסע
    We embrace life as a continuous journey of learning and growing.

Decision Making in the Time of COVID-19

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:

  • The health and safety of our community
    Guidance from health professionals, state and local mandates, and educational leaders
    Our school’s core values — responsibility to others, openness to varied perspectives, and perseverance
  • Understanding the way the crisis affects members of the school community differently and ensuring equity
  • Building an engaging and meaningful academic program
  • Reflections and feedback from parents, staff, and students via surveys and meetings
    Analysis of Spring 2020 distance learning program by parents, students, and faculty

Hannah Senesh Community Day School COVID-19 Task Group

  • Director: Head of School Nicole Nash
  • COVID-19 Safety Coordinator: Director of Operations Nathalie Cabot
  • Judy Schoenberg, Board Chair
  • JJ Berney, Trustee
  • Ariella Golomb, Trustee
  • Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, Trustee
  • Dr. Eitan Dickman, MD
  • Dr. Lawrence Wolf, MD
  • Dr. Michele Fagan, MD
  • Director of Admissions and Community Engagement Annette Powers
  • Lower School Director Shelley Fogelson
  • Middle School Director Lauren Goldberg

Daily Operations

School Capacity and Scenarios

Senesh will begin this fall by offering three scenarios to parents:

  1. An in-person model for lower school (K-4th grades) on Mon-Fri.
  2. A hybrid model for middle school:

    5th-6th grades:

  3. In-person learning Mon., Tues., and alternate Fri., beginning Fri. Sept. 11, 2020)
    Distance learning Wed., Thurs., and alternate Fri.

    7th-8th grades:
    In-person learning Wed., Thurs., and alternate Fri., beginning Fri. Sept. 25, 2020)
    Distance learning Mon., Tues., and alternate Fri.

  4. A remote streaming option for in-person learning: This option is available for all families K-8 who do not want their child to join in-person learning.

We are also preparing to resume a full distance learning program if necessary for the following scenarios:

  1. Intermittent Distance Learning Program
    We anticipate that there will be times when parts of our school will resume distance learning based on students or family members testing positive for COVID-19.
  2. Distance Learning
    Should New York State mandate that schools resume distance learning or if Senesh determines it is in the best interest of our community, our program will be a refined version of our Spring 2020 program.

Remote Streaming Option for In-Person Learning FAQs

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.

Pods

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:

  • Each grade will have three distinct pods.
  • To minimize exposure to other pods, each pod will have its own classroom, where students will spend the entire school day.
  • Students will keep all of their belongings in their classroom as lockers will not be used.
  • Students will bring their own lunch and eat it in their classrooms with their pods. School lunch will not be provided.
  • Children will only spend time in-person with others in their pod. They will interact with other pods for virtual learning and socializing.
  • Pods offer the opportunity for more small-group learning and building a strong community.
  • Each grade will have shared teachers who will move from classroom to classroom and teach each pod.
  • Students in each pod will have their own individual desk and supplies (including a device), instead of sharing with others.
  • Students in each pod will keep a distance of six feet apart from one another and will wear masks.
  • Instead of large group PE and recess, students will have daily outdoor time with other students in their pod. We will also ensure students get movement and bathroom breaks throughout the day.
  • Students will have all the same subjects as before, they will just be in smaller groups.

Physical Education, Outdoor Time, and Breaks

  • Instead of large group PE and recess, the physical education teachers will lead daily outdoor time for students by pod.
  • Lower school will have two outdoor breaks daily.
  • Middle school will have outdoor lunch and outdoor time daily.
  • While some outdoor time will be structured activities, other times will be designated for free play.
  • Students will also have movement, bathroom, and mask breaks throughout the day.

Vulnerable Populations

  • Vulnerable populations and families who are not comfortable returning to school have a remote streaming option for our in-person learning model. This will also be available for children who are home due to illness.
  • The school will also make necessary modifications using PPE to meet specific needs for vulnerable populations to minimize COVID-19 exposure risk to the greatest extent possible.

School Hours, Arrival, and Dismissal

School hours were determined by the following:

  • School hours will be staggered to minimize contact and ensure physical distancing measures for the health and safety of our community.
  • In this new schedule, teachers will be teaching and having contact with students throughout the day. Time before and after school will be allocated to teacher planning and meetings by department and grade-level.
  • Our new in-person plan eliminates student transitions as students remain in their classrooms in small groups for the entire day. This will allow for an educational program that is more productive, efficient, and meaningful.
  • While we will build in developmentally-appropriate break times for students, we are aware that it will be a challenge to remain in one classroom and observe physical distancing for the entire day.

Arrival and Dismissal Guidelines

  • For the safety of our community, all parents/guardians and students are asked to wear masks at arrival and dismissal.
  • Due to health, safety, and staffing, we will not be able to offer earlybird drop-off and students will enter school only at their assigned arrival time.
  • The school is working to secure additional outdoor space for families to wait for assigned arrival times.
  • To create a safe routine, K-3rd grade families will have assigned arrival/dismissal spots in the side yard.
  • To foster independence, 4th-8th grade students will enter and exit through the main entrance. Physical distancing will be required outside the school.
  • While parents are required to complete a daily morning health screening for their children via the Magnus app, upon arrival, children may have temperature checks and additional screening questions. Parents/guardians who drop their children off at school will be asked to wait to ensure their child is able to stay.
  • Parents/guardians will say good-bye at their designated school entrance and faculty will take younger students to their classes.
  • We ask parents to do their best to arrive on time for school. Late arrivals will need to wait outside the main entrance until the nurse is available to conduct a health screening.

School Hours

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

Earlybird and Afterschool Programming

For this first phase of reopening, we will not be able to offer earlybird or afterschool programs.

Transportation

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:

  • If using public transportation, everyone should wear a mask, wash hands/use hand sanitizer after exiting, and leave space between people to allow for physical distancing.
  • If carpooling, everyone should wear masks, ride with windows open, and leave space between passengers.
  • If families use the school bus, students should wear masks and sit one child per seat (unless siblings) and only use every other row in the bus. There will be no eating or drinking on the bus and students will practice physical distancing upon entering or exiting the bus.
  • 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 1pm.

Movement in the Building and Repurposing Space

  • As students remain in one classroom, teachers will move from classroom to classroom teaching each pod in their grade.
  • The hallways and stairwells will be clearly marked to help manage the direction and flow of traffic, with a limited number of students outside the classroom at any one time.
  • To maximize the number of students in school, all spaces in the building will be utilized as classrooms, including the gym, beit midrash, and library.
  • The gym will no longer be used as a lunchroom and school lunch will not be provided. Students will bring their own lunch and eat it in their classrooms.
  • To ensure adequate space to care for our children, the art room will become the student healthcare room.
  • In addition to our three outdoor spaces, we are looking to secure more outdoor space for our students during the school day as fresh air and movement breaks are so important.

Visitors and Gatherings

  • To reduce the transmission of germs, only students, faculty, staff, and essential contractors will be admitted into the building.
  • The use of common spaces and large group gatherings will not be permitted. We will continue to be innovative and create virtual ways to connect and have grade-, school-, and community-wide events.
  • SETSS providers and tutors are deemed essential and will be allowed in the building during school hours.

School Closures

  • At times Senesh may close school if mandated by the Governor, due to COVID-19, inclement weather, or a city-wide emergency.
  • For snow closures, we follow the decision of the NYC public schools. Please follow news announcements for pertinent information.
  • 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

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).

  • All students will be instructed to wash/sanitize their hands before and after meals.
  • Students will eat with their pods inside the classroom, at their desks, which are 6 feet apart.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Students will be reminded not to share any food or beverages.
  • There will be no communal snacks for birthdays or other such events.
  • Food allergies will be accommodated.
  • Please send a filled 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.

Attendance and Tardiness

  • Whether students are learning in-person or remotely, regular and timely school attendance is necessary for success in school and will be documented daily.
  • 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 absence.
  • 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 entitled
  • 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 contacted.

Monitoring of Health Conditions

Health, Emergency, Immunization, and Medication Forms

Students entering Senesh must fulfill the requirements of the State of New York for immunization each year.

  • This year we will be requiring flu shots for all students. Record of flu shots must be submitted to the nurse. We will share more details when flu shots become available.
  • 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.
  • 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 educational and administrative staff.

Student Illness/COVID-19 Policies

  • There will be a new threshold for health care with a zero tolerance policy for sick children and staff.
  • If your child has any COVID-19 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.
  • If your child begins to exhibit any COVID-like symptoms at school, parents/guardians will be immediately contacted to pick up their child. The child will wait in the isolation room until the parent/guardian arrives. The child will be sent home with instructions to contact their health care provider for evaluation and possible COVID-19 testing.
  • Persistent symptoms that last more than the initial day, multiple symptoms, or major symptoms such as fever greater than a 100 degrees, chills, shortness of breath, loss of taste/smell or cough require a negative COVID-19 test, clearance from a health care provider, AND the child being symptom-free for 24 hours without the use of medication.

COVID-19 Screening

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.

  • By 7:30am, parents are required to complete a quick (1-2 minutes) health screening survey via the Magnus Health app.
  • At the completion of the survey each morning, parents will receive a message whether or not the child is cleared to attend school.
  • Timely submission of health information is vital so that preparations can be made prior to the start of each school day.
  • Screening questions will include the following:
Have you had a temperature of greater than 100.0°F at any time in the past 14 days?
Do you have any of the below symptoms?

  • Fever greater than 100 degrees F.
  • Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Chills, muscle pain, or headache
  • Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
  • New loss of taste or smell.
  • Congestion, runny nose, or sore throat.

Close Contact/Potential Exposure

  • Have you had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) with a person with confirmed COVID-19?.
  • Have you had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) with a person under quarantine for possible exposure to COVID-19?.
  • Have you traveled to or lived in an area where the state health department is reporting large numbers of COVID-19 cases within the past 14 days?.

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

  • Upon arrival, all students and staff will check to see if they passed the morning screening and may receive additional screening by Senesh staff before entering the school, which may include temperature checks and additional survey questions.
  • In addition to staggered arrival times, there will be designated arrival spots for students to wait in line to prevent intermingling and enforce social distancing measures.
  • The school will not retain individual medical or health information from this screening. Only the “clear/not clear” status of the individual as determined by the questionnaire will be available to the school or kept on file.
  • Senesh staff will conduct an immediate review each morning of all the data from the screenings and conduct follow-up calls to families of children who are not in school that day.

Protocols for Students/Staff with Positive Screening Responses

  • Students may not attend school if they have had a temperature of greater than 100 degrees F at any time in the past 14 days, even if a fever-reducing medication was administered and the student no longer has a fever.
  • If the student/staff/parent/caregiver answers YES to any question related to symptoms or contact/exposure: the student will be isolated from other students and staff, aside from the staff supervising them, and immediately sent home with instructions to contact a health care provider for evaluation and testing.
  • Individuals with recent international travel or travel within a state with widespread transmission of COVID-19 as designated through the New York State Travel Advisory, must quarantine as directed by the state before they are allowed to return to school. We will not accept “testing out” of the 14 day quarantine after returning from a hot spot; negative COVID-19 test results are ​not​ a substitute for the 14 day quarantine after returning from a “hot spot”.
  • If the school determines a child is ill during the school day, parents/guardians will be required to pick up their child within one hour. Children will wait in the healthcare room (a classroom designated for this purpose) monitored by the nurse.

Testing Protocols

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.

Caring for a Student/Staff with COVID-19 Symptoms or Positive

If students or staff become ill with symptoms of COVID-19 at school:

  • They will be isolated in a designated healthcare room, supervised by an adult, socially distanced, and utilize appropriate PPE.
  • Our art classroom will be converted into a healthcare room where sick individuals can wait in isolation. If more than one child is in the isolation room; they will be separated by 6 feet and wear a mask.
  • Parents/guardians will be notified immediately if their child is sick and be asked to pick them up within one hour. Parents/guardians will not enter the school. The child will be brought to the parent/guardian at the main entrance.
  • Parents/guardians will receive instructions to contact their health care provider or to follow up with a local clinic or urgent care center for assessment and testing. Senesh has developed a partnership with a local urgent care center that will be a resource and testing site for our community.

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.

Exposed Individuals
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:

  • They will be sent home from school with instructions to contact a health care provider for evaluation and testing and quarantine for 14 days.
  • Returning to the in-person learning environment will entail, at a minimum, documentation from a health care provider evaluation, negative COVID-19 testing
  • During this time the entire pod will do distance learning and then return to in-person learning.
  • In addition to the 14 day quarantine: exposed students who present with symptoms or test positive of COVID-19 during a period of self-quarantine need the below before returning to school:
    –Documentation from a healthcare provider evaluation
    –Negative COVID-19 testing and symptom resolution
    –If COVID-19 positive, release from 10-day isolation

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.

Return-to-School Policies

Following COIVD-19 Symptoms or positive PCR COVID-19 testing, returning to learning protocol must include at a minimum:

  • Documentation from a healthcare provider evaluation
  • Negative COVID-19 testing and symptom resolution
  • If COVID-19 positive, release from 10-day isolation
  • In rare cases where the symptoms are from a chronic condition, this will require documentation from a physician and have to be cleared by the school nurse before the child returns to school.

Communication of Positive COVID-19 Cases or Exposure

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.

Contact Tracing

  • Contact tracing is a public health function performed by the local public health department to trace all persons who had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. This allows public health officials to put in place isolation or other measures to limit the spread of the virus.
  • If there is a Senesh community member who tests positive, we will work very closely with the state and local health department to provide them with necessary and accurate information. We will not perform our own contact tracing.
  • Senesh will be responsible for notifying faculty or families of students that they have come into close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.
  • Please note that medical privacy laws explicitly prohibit Senesh from revealing the name of the individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection

Masks and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

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 Requirements

  • Parents will be asked to ensure that children arrive at school wearing masks (cloth face coverings are allowed) and students will wear masks throughout the day except when eating and mask breaks between classes.
  • Parents are required to wear masks during arrival and dismissal.
  • Faculty and staff are required to wear masks in public areas of school, while teaching in classrooms, and in meetings with other faculty.
  • Each family is asked to purchase or make eight cloth face masks (one for each day of the school week and three extras to be left in school) per child.
  • Face masks should be labeled in permanent marker with the child’s name or initials so it is clear to whom the mask belongs.
  • Cloth face masks should be washed, disinfected, or replaced after each day’s use and must not be shared.

Mask Training

  • Students and staff will be trained in the proper usage of face coverings. CDC guidelines provide general considerations for wearing and maintaining a face covering, including the following:
    –The mouth and nose are fully covered
    –The wearer does not have any difficulty breathing while wearing the covering
    –How to safely discard a mask
    –Individuals should wash their hands before putting on or removing a mask, only touch the mask by its straps, avoid touching the mask while it is being worn, and change masks if it becomes wet.
    –Individuals should make sure the mask fits snugly to cover the nose bridge, mouth, and chin.
    –Children will be taught that if they are going to cough or sneeze (which is going to happen), the MASK SHOULD STAY ON.

Masks Acceptable for School Use

  • The “best” masks for your children are the ones that fit the best, do not have to be continually readjusted and that they will keep on without issues.
  • Surgical masks are made of non-woven fabric, usually 3-ply and come in different “grades”. They are designed to be single use and should be discarded if they get wet or soiled and at the end of a day of use.
  • Cloth masks may vary greatly in filtration efficiency and breathability, depending on the fabric and layering. The WHO recommends that masks be at least three layers thick, where the different layers serve to either limit the spread of droplets from the wearer’s mouth or protect the mask from outside contamination and penetration. Additionally, more tightly woven materials, such as cotton fabrics with higher thread counts, are preferable, while elastic materials are not recommended due to the higher pore size and lower filtration efficiency.

Masks Not Acceptable for School Use

  • Gaitor (neck) cloths and bandanas are not considered appropriate masks for in-school use, as they offer less protection.
  • Masks with plastic filter valves will not be permitted to be worn in school. These one-way valves make masks easier to breathe through. But because the valve releases unfiltered air when the wearer breathes out, this type of mask does not prevent the wearer from spreading the virus.

How to Explain the Importance of Masks to Young Children

  • Explain the importance of wearing a cloth face covering and how it protects other people from getting sick.
  • Consider talking to your child about other people who may not be able to wear cloth face coverings for medical reasons (e.g., asthma).
  • As a family, model wearing cloth face coverings, especially when you are in situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain or impossible.
  • If you have a young child, help build their comfort wearing a cloth face covering and become comfortable seeing others in face covers.
  • Praise your child for wearing a cloth face covering correctly.
  • Allow your child to choose their cloth face covering that meets the requirements noted above.

Additional PPE

  • PPE, such as gloves, gowns, goggles, polycarbonate guards, and face shields will be available and used by staff as needed.
  • We have increased hand sanitizing stations and will provide hand sanitizing supplies at school entrances, classrooms, and offices.

Personal Hygiene Protocols

  • Handwashing: Students and staff will be instructed to wash or sanitize their hands upon entry to the building or their classrooms. Students will be trained in handwashing protocols. Everyone will be instructed to frequently wash their hands throughout the day; lathering for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, but especially when entering the school buildings and classrooms, before and after mealtimes, and after using the restroom.
  • Hand sanitizer: Students will be instructed to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers (60% alcohol or greater) when soap and water are not available, and hands are not visibly dirty. Hand sanitizer is available throughout common areas. It is placed in convenient locations, such as at the building entrances, classrooms, and offices. If students or staff are unable to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers for health reasons, they will be permitted to wash their hands with soap and water at any time.
  • Handwashing breaks: will be incorporated into the daily schedules of each class to ensure frequent hand washing takes place.
  • Sanitization: Staff and students will be instructed in proper use of the sanitizing equipment, including wiping down personal space and supplies frequently, and especially after another individual comes in contact with any personal items or furniture.
  • Respiratory etiquette: Students and staff will be trained to cover their mouth and nose with their sleeve or a tissue when coughing or sneezing and avoid touching their face, in particular their mouth, nose, and eyes, with their hands. They will be trained to properly dispose of tissues in provided no-touch trash receptacles and to wash or sanitize their hands immediately afterward. Respiratory etiquette signage will be displayed throughout the school.
  • Symptom Checking: Staff will be trained to observe for signs of illness in students and staff. Anyone with signs of illness will be sent to the school nurse for further assessment.

Cleaning and Disinfection Prior to Re-Opening

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.

  • The school hired a company to do a full cleaning and disinfection before school opens.
  • Improvements have been made to the school ventilation system including power washing, installing higher grade filters and high performance belts, and increasing outside air intake. HEPA air purifiers have been installed in windowless classrooms.
  • The school has purchased cleaning and disinfecting agents to last for a minimum of three months.
  • All cleaning supplies are secured in a locked room away from all students.
  • Improvements were made to school bathrooms by eliminating hand dryers that blow air and paper towel holders were installed.
  • We installed polycarbonate dividers in the main office.
  • Water fountains are covered and will not be used.

Ongoing Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • The school maintenance staff disinfect high traffic areas and surfaces throughout the day including: bathrooms, railings, stairwells, door handles, bathrooms, the elevator, the healthcare room, and other high touch surfaces.
  • A nightly maintenance staff will clean and disinfect classrooms, hallways, offices, desks, chairs, toys, door handles, floors, and bathrooms.
  • Disposable sanitizing wipes and spray will be in the classrooms for commonly used surfaces that can be wiped down before/after use.
  • On a weekly basis the maintenance team will clean walls in hallways, dust high areas, and buff floors.
  • As needed, additional cleaning and sanitizing will take place over the weekend.
  • On a monthly basis the maintenance team will clean all windows and the HVAC company will inspect the filters and change as needed.
  • The school will increase staff as needed to fully clean, disinfect, and sanitize areas where students or staff who have been ill were present.

Ventilation

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:

  • Power washing
  • Installing higher grade filters and high performance belts
  • Increasing outside air intake
  • HEPA air purifiers have been installed in windowless classrooms.
  • All of our classroom doors are fire rated and are not able to remain open due to fire code. All our classrooms will either have windows that will be open or will have air purifiers.

Signage

Signage will be posted throughout the school, in highly visible areas, to remind individuals to:

  • Stay home if they feel sick.
  • Cover their nose and mouth with an acceptable face covering when unable to maintain social distance from others or in accordance with any stricter policy implemented by the school.
  • Properly store and, when necessary, discard PPE.
  • Adhere to social distancing instructions.
  • Report symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19, and how they should do so.
  • Follow hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
  • Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.

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.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching and Learning in the Time of COVID-19

Senesh teachers rose to the challenge of remote teaching during a global pandemic. As we plan for the year ahead, we are focusing on:

  • Structuring the curriculum to account for any gaps in skills and content that may have resulted as well as finding ways to provide enrichment for students who thrived during remote learning
  • Providing students with additional time to adjust to new classroom and school routines for in-person learning and guiding faculty on how to support students through this experience.
  • Training faculty to identify and support students who will return to school with a range of social-emotional needs that may interfere with learning, focus, and working memory including:
    — dysregulated sleep and eating habits
    — anxiety about a return school due to COVID-19 fears
    — social concerns/challenges due to extended separation from age-mates and/or related to the pod structure
    — disappointment about the nature of school/“grief” for school as they remember it

To meet these challenges, our academic roadmap will be based on the following tenets:

    1. Prioritize community building, relationships between students and teachers and the fun and joy of school. Celebrate the opportunity to return to school and be together.
    2. Prioritize the most critical prerequisite skills and knowledge for each grade level and subject area and predict gaps based on remote teaching.
    3. Use pre-assessments to identify students who have gaps in their learning or who flourished during remote learning and will require either support or enrichment to meet their needs.
    4. Build in time to help students develop skills such as self-regulation, time management/executive functioning, self-reflection/goal setting, and effective teamwork.
    5. Use a variety of assessment tools (formative, summative) throughout each unit to determine progress and mastery of the essential skills and content.

Social-Emotional Well-Being

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:

  • It begins with the classroom teacher. In our lower school, this year, many teachers will “loop” with students. Thus, most students will begin the school year in the care of a teacher who knows them and their family well.
  • In middle school, our small faculty means that, in many subjects, students will have a former teacher.
  • Even when a teacher has not taught a student in their subject area, they most likely know the student from contact they have had in extracurricular programs and community gatherings.
  • In addition to our classroom teachers, the school is also served by two school counselors (one for each division) who is available to students, families and teachers for individual and family appointments, as well as consultation with teachers about student needs in the classroom.
  • Counselors will 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.

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 the lower school, all teachers have been trained in the Responsive Classroom model which weaves social-emotional practices into the structure of the school day.
  • For example, Responsive Classroom morning meetings build a strong sense of community and set students up for academic and social success. Though students will not be able to be physically close (e.g. in a circle on a communal classroom rug), teachers are putting in place alternative methods to build community through stories and games as well as connecting with students over Zoom who may opt for remote schooling by partnering those students with an in-person classmate.
  • 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. These practices carried over effectively into remote teaching in the spring such that students experienced a sense of continuity and consistency.

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.

  • This year, each “pod” will be an advisory group, served by an advisor who is a teacher for that grade. At an already-small school, these even smaller advisory groups will provide students with a strong sense of support and pod spirit.
  • Advisory will include daily morning homeroom check-ins that will take place on in-person and remote learning days.
  • Regular grade-level meetings throughout the school year will allow us to create an advising program that is both proactive (addressing the needs and challenges we already anticipate) and reactive — changing as we gain a better understanding of the needs of the particular groups and individuals.
  • During our August in-service weeks, middle school teachers will reenvison our advising program, define the role of an advisor in our school, and discuss the social-emotional needs of students at each grade level.

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.

Educational Support

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.

  • 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.

    Technology

    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:

    • Chromebooks
    • Tablets
    • Video equipment in one classroom per grade to allow for remote streaming student access

    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.

    Supporting Student Work at Home

    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:

    • 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.

    During remote learning:

    • Help students get ready for the school day by:
    • –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

    • Post the weekly and daily Zoom schedules by your child’s workspace. Review the schedule together so your child knows what classes they have each day.
    • Younger students may need assistance joining Zoom classes as well as submitting completed work to teachers.
    • Make sure your child has a charged device and all of the materials they will need for their Zoom classes. Your child’s teachers will share in advance the materials students will need to have on hand. (These may include textbooks, assigned/provided reading materials, headphones, writing folders and implements)
    • It’s important that students are present at the start of Zoom classes to maximize learning time for all.

    Homework

    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

    School Supplies

    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.

    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

    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.

    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.

    Parent-School Partnership

    Guiding Principles

    The Parent-School partnership is an important part of your 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 communication.
    • Staff and parents are mutually committed to building and maintaining an open relationship.
    • Families agree to support our educational program that fosters a love of learning guided by intellectual discovery, social responsibility, and the development of personal character.
    • Families 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 agree to accept our open and inclusive approach to Jewish life.
    • Families will treat Senesh administrators, faculty and staff, as well as other members of the Senesh community, with respect and courtesy in all forms of communications, including face to face, written, electronic and social media communications.
    • Families 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.

    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: 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-19 updates, distance learning, and our Re-Opening Plans. Please visit these pages for updated information.
    • 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 describes 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 Zoom 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. These will be over Zoom due to COVID-19.

    Communication with Senesh Teachers and Staff

    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:

    • Kindness – a respectful tone in an appropriate time and place.
    • Openness – transparency and the assumption of good intentions.
    • Journey – understanding that productive parent-school communications are fundamental to our children’s success on their journey at Senesh and beyond.

    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.

    We are dedicated to helping your child thrive at Senesh and appreciate your assistance.

    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 parents:

    • 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, This fall, Back to School night will be remote.
    • Parent Teacher Conferences: Parents will receive notice when progress reports will be posted on Mybackpack 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. This year, these events will be held virtually to maintain physical distancing measures.

    Ways to Get Involved

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

    • Be a Pod Parent
    • Volunteer for classroom and school programs
    • Become a Senesh Admissions Ambassador
    • Help with our community events/programs
    • 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 pod 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

    Advancement at Senesh

    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.

    Gift Policy

    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.

    Appendix

    Sample Schedules

    Visit this page for sample schedules for grades 1, 4, and 7 (in-person day and remote day).

    How to Prepare Your Children

    Together we will support our children. Please review all the material in this booklet so you can prepare your children for what to expect. Below are some phrases to use when you speak with younger children. Please adapt as it makes sense for your child.

    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

    • The school is working with doctors and is following government guidelines to make sure school is a safe place for all students and teachers.
    • To ensure our school is a healthy place, even if we have the sniffles, we will stay home. You’ll be able to zoom into class from home.
    • We want to stay healthy, so we will be extra careful and wash or sanitize our hands many times throughout the day.
    • We have a new larger space in school to take good care of anyone who is not feeling well (art room.)
    • We will always take care of you and keep you safe.

    Masks

    • Just like we do whenever we go outside, you will wear a mask when you go to school.
    • We will get several masks so you always have a clean one. We can even buy a special one that you pick out.
    • The weeks before school begins, we will practice wearing our mask and how to safely put it on and take it off. You will not wear a mask when you eat or drink.

    Arrival and Dismissal

    • Just so the building doesn’t get too crowded, every grade will start and end school at different times and enter and exit from different doors.
    • Instead of gathering in the lobby and gym for earlybird, K-3rd grade students will line up in the recess yard and 4th-8th grade students will enter through the main entrance.
    • Parents will say good-bye at specific spots outside the school building.
    • Students will get their temperature taken every morning so that anyone who is sick can go home and get better soon and come back to school.

    Classroom Learning Time

    • You used to be in classes of about 12-15 students, now you will be in smaller “pods” of 8-9 students.
    • A pod is the group of children you will learn and play with throughout the day; including for lunch and recess.
    • You usually walk from classroom to classroom, but now you will stay in one classroom and the teachers will come to you.
    • Recess will still be outside with your friends in your pod and your PE teacher.
    • We know you are used to sitting at tables and sharing at school. To keep everyone safe, children will each get their own individual desk, school supplies, and device to use.
    • So we don’t spread germs, the water fountains won’t be used. All children will bring their own water bottle to school each day.
    • We may not meet in the gym for big group events, but we will still get to do them online, like we did for Kabbalat Shabbat in the Spring.

    Connecting in New Ways

    • In classrooms, we might not sit right next to each other, but we will still have the same kinds of conversations.
    • Because we need to be careful not to spread germs, we won’t hug or high-five right now. We can use our words to say hello and show how we feel.
    • We have to be careful when playing with our friends. Teachers will have many new ways for students to play together, including at recess where we can keep a safe distance. We will still have fun together, just in new ways.

    B Mitzvah Celebrations During COVID

    We continue to reassess all our activities with the goal of making them as safe as possible. We understand the challenges of planning a B Mitzvah outside of school during this time while prioritizing health and safety, and are in awe of the many Senesh families that have had joyous and meaningful simchas (celebrations) during COVID. We are committed to continuing to work together to allow for safe celebrations. As many families are in the process of planning, we want to avail you of Senesh guidelines around B Mitzvah celebrations.

    Venues:

    • We encourage you to hold B Mitzvot virtually.
    • If hosting an event with guests, B Mitzvot should be held outside, whenever possible.
    • Participants must be socially distanced, six feet from each other, and masked at all times.
    • If hosting indoors, state guidelines of 25% capacity, social distancing (12 feet due to singing), and mask-wearing must be followed (and supervised in particular for children).
    • A tent with walls is considered indoors from a COVID-19 disease transmission perspective.
    • We ask that every invitation for a B Mitzvah state explicitly what safety measures will be in place and what safety measures are expected of all guests. For example, “masks will be provided and all guests are expected to wear them.”
    • The risk of viral transmission is increased in crowds, particularly if the gathering takes place indoors or without masks or distancing.

    Dancing and Singing:

    • There should be no celebration that includes dancing where participants are within 12 feet of one another, since dancing is considered an aerobic activity and increases the risk of viral transmission.
    • Singing also requires a 12-foot distance since it increases the risk of viral transmission.
    • Consider having music that does not involve any live singing in order to comply with distancing requirements.

    Weekday B Mitzvot:

    • If you have a weekday celebration, we ask that you be respectful of class time when setting the time for the celebration, whether on Zoom or in a private venue.
    • Please, when possible, coordinate your celebration with our morning tefillah times. While we seek to be flexible, we also want to avoid a significant impact on the academic program.

    Dates:

    • While you have already reserved a date with Judaic Studies Coordinator Phyllis Sussman, we understand that many of your plans have changed. We try to help you coordinate dates to ensure that there is no overlap within a grade. If you need to change the date of your B Mitzvah, please contact Phyllis at psussman@hannahsenesh.org.

    Food:

    • Serving food after a service presents a variety of issues. If you feel you must serve something, the food must be served outdoors and be individually wrapped. Please ensure that social distancing is observed when students approach a table to take their food. This will require supervision on the part of the host.
    • As always, please ensure food is aligned with our school’s kashrut policy, which can be found in the Parent Handbook.

    Please know we are continuing our school tradition of celebrating each B Mitzvah in school as well. This includes a Zoom 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 have a small party favor distributed by Phyllis.

    Thank you for continuing to care for the health and safety of our community.

    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 .

    NON-COVID-19 POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

    General Health Guidelines

    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, a fitted N95 mask will be provided to the nurse who 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 the school nurse.

    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.

    Creating a Safe Space

    School Safety and Security

    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

    • Students and faculty are to maintain a distance of six feet when they gather on the sidewalks outside for our headcount, and by reviewing where each class should gather in order to preserve maximum distance.
    • The school will have six-foot markers on the sidewalks where we gather for fire drills.
      Drills will be conducted on a staggered schedule so that classrooms evacuate separately rather than all at once.

    Lockdown Drill Protocols

    • To keep physical distance we will provide an overview of how to shelter in place rather than actually practicing sheltering in place, which usually entails sitting on the floor closely together in a safe corner of the room.
    • The drills will be done on a staggered schedule while ensuring all students are receiving instruction in emergency procedures and participating in drills.

    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.

    Student Code of Conduct, Bullying and Sexual Harassment

    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:

    • 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
    • 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

    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. 

    Bullying
    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

    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:

    • 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 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.

    Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

    Diversity Statement

    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.

    Transgender and Non-Binary Student Support Guidelines

    Staff Training and Development

    In partnership with prominent organizations, our faculty is engaged in ongoing training and development. Below are some examples:

    • Race and equity in the context of Jewish education, Facing History and Ourselves
    • Culturally responsive teaching, Facing History and Ourselves
    • Navigating conversations about current events, Facing History and Ourselves
    • Jewish Around the World: Holidays, Be’chol Lashon
    • Racial literacy, New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS)
    • Race for Jewish Educators, Jews in all Hues
    • Keshet Leadership Training

    Curriculum

    Faculty incorporated learnings from professional development in curricula across the school. The following is a list of some of this ongoing work:

    • Social emotional learning. By anchoring our learning to five core competencies of self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, responsible decision making, and social awareness, we are building an inclusive community with intention.
    • Holidays and rituals. Using holidays as an opportunity to celebrate diversity, students are learning how Jewish communities around the world celebrate Jewish holidays and rituals.
    • Embracing Jewish diversity in our own community. Celebrating the diversity of our own community, we look carefully at our practices and curriculum and lift up Jews of Color, LGBTQ+ Jews, and Jewish culture from around the world.
    • Building bridges through partnerships. In partnership with organizations such as Repair the World, Emma’s Torch, Project Ezra, and Brooklyn Autism Center, students form new relationships, gain skills, awareness, and experience being culturally competent in diverse settings.
    • Lower school social studies. We revised our social studies curriculum ensuring lower school students explore: individual and group identity, respecting what makes people different, standing up to injustice, prejudice, discrimination and exclusion.
    • Middle school humanities. In partnership with Facing History and Ourselves, our teachers are constantly iterating and deepening lessons on anti-semitism, current events and topics across the humanities curriculum.

    Antiracism

    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:

    • Faculty members attending summer workshops and trainings through organizations such as Facing History and Ourselves
    • Antiracist faculty reading group
    • Antiracist training, provided by an outside organization, for all faculty and staff during August in-service, with continued/regular meetings throughout the school year
    • Parent workshops, organized by our parent diversity committee
    • On-going curricular examinations to ensure:
      • Discussions about race and identity begin in the younger grades and continue in all years
      • Teachers have had opportunities to discuss and reflect on their own racial identity and are willing to and comfortable with discussing race and identity with students
      • Our curriculum allows students to understand and recognize systemic and structural racism and oppression
      • Across our community parents and alumni have mobilized to take action by participating in book clubs, dialogues, and other events on this topic

    Jewish Ritual Policies

    Ritual Head Coverings

    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.

    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. Pareve foods, which are neither dairy nor 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 (hechshered) 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.

      Kashrut Standards

      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.

    B’nai Mitzvah

    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 psussman@hannahsenesh.org to schedule your date.

    Additional Guidelines

    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. 
    • Midriffs, 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. If a student has a concern they should speak to their teacher.

    Lost and Found

    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.

    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.