September 2, 2020
Dear Brotherhood Nursery Families-
We are beyond excited to welcome you and your children back into our building!
This week our teachers returned to school after six long months. The tents that will allow us to be out of doors for much of the year have been erected, and on Friday the staff will design, organize and order exciting, opened-ended materials that will captivate and engage your children throughout the year.
There are new protocols and guidelines that New York State and our administration have put into place to ensure the safety of your children. Below you will find our reopening document. Some of the information will look familiar as it contains the Health and Safety Plan you received in August. And, some of it will be new to you. Please read it so that you will be informed of our plans, and protocols. We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions. This will be a dynamic document and may be updated regularly.
By now you have heard from your child’s teachers, introducing themselves, sharing some pertinent information, and making arrangements for you to visit the school with your child. An individual parent/teacher call will also be scheduled for you and the teacher to meet before we formally begin school.
Thank you for trusting us. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to our school and to the Brotherhood community. It’s going to be an exciting year.
Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School:
Separation, Phase-In, and Welcoming Children
The first days of any school year are phase-in days. The length of phase-in is guided by the ages of the children, class schedules, and individual needs. A gradual beginning gives children a chance to acclimate to new routines, teachers, and friends with minimized stress. For children to feel safe and ready to learn, they must establish relationships with loving and trusted adults. This time also gives our teachers opportunities to get to know your children in a smaller environment. You will be hearing from you’re your teachers.
Beginning School and Phasing-In
We are going to start the year with an in-person teacher and school visits on September 10th and 11th. Teachers will be in touch (via email link) to schedule a time when you and your child can plan a visit. Visits will be about 15 minutes and will show the set up for drop off, as well as go into your child's classroom and visit the playground. This is a great opportunity to have your child connect with the teachers. We want them to start to recognize the school as a safe, fun place.
Arrival and Dismissal Procedures
We know that drop off may be challenging for some of our students as we first start the year. Our goal, however, is to move to a seamless transition between home and school while maintaining limited contact between family members and staff.
All parents are required to complete a daily health screening before entering the building. You will receive a Google doc each evening that you must fill out and return by 8:00 AM on all school days.
When you arrive at Brotherhood, you will enter through the west gate, closest to Irving Place. Merril or Sara will meet you and check to see that have submitted your health check. One of your teachers will meet you in the Memorial Garden and escort your child to the temperature scanner, which is just inside our doorway. We will give a sticker to your child, both as an incentive and as a way for us to streamline the process. This is the time for good-byes*. The teacher and child will walk into the Memorial Garden, join their classmates, and begin the day. Adults will leave through the east gate, closest to 3rd Avenue so we can eliminate bidirectional traffic. We will not be allowing strollers to stay in the courtyard, but you can leave them within the gates for a brief time when you drop off your child. During the parent/teacher phone call you will have an opportunity
learn more before children are expected to separate from you.
Masks are required of all adults and children (over age 2).
* Establish a good-bye or I-love-you ritual with your child. Sing a favorite good-bye song, create a special hug or fist bump. A predictable drop-off routine can ease the transition to school.
Dismissal will take place in the courtyard. We ask that all parents and caregivers abide by social distancing guidelines while waiting for your class to dismiss and that you vacate the courtyard once you have picked up your child so that we can clear the space for the next class.
In order to curb the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases, it is vital that students and staff remain at home when showing any signs and symptoms of illness. Children and staff MUST stay home if they feel unwell. Please notify us immediately of any confirmed or suspected exposure to COVID-19, as we are obligated to report positive tests to the NYC DOHMH.
If a child is exhibiting symptoms of illness while at school, they will be removed from the classroom and they will wait in the library until they can be picked up. The library will be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly once the child has left the building.
For the safety of everyone in the classroom, it is imperative that children are not given fever-reducing medication before school. Sending a sick child to school may result in a greater amount of school missed for the entire class, as well as an increase in teacher absences.
If your child will be absent from school, please notify the office by 9:30 AM. If your child is absent for illness, please notify us of any symptoms present.
COVID-19 Symptoms and Exclusions
Exclusion, quarantine, and return to school guidelines are based on recommendations by the CDC and the Department of Health.
For the purposes of this guidance, COVID-like illness is defined as:
• New-onset cough
• Fever of 100° F or higher
• Shortness of breath
OR at least 2 of the following:
• Muscle pain
• Sore throat
• Loss of sense of taste/smell
• Gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea).
If a child presents with symptoms in the first category - New onset cough, fever of 100° F or more, or shortness of breath, they must:
• Stay out of school for a minimum of 10 days from the onset of symptoms if no COVID test is performed;
• Be fever free (or show reduced symptoms) for 72 hours, without the aid of medication
A child with these symptoms may return to school before 10 days with a doctor’s note documenting a negative COVID-19 test result and be fever free for 72 hours without the aid of medication.
If a child presents with 2 or more COVID-19 symptoms (as described above) - chills, shivering, muscle pain, sore throat, headache, loss of sense of taste/smell, gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), they will be excluded from school until they have received clearance from their pediatrician and may be asked to provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test.
For the purpose of these quarantine guidelines, exposure is defined as any person who has been within 6 feet of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 for at least 10 minutes, without proper PPE.
Quarantine for travel:
All families and staff must follow NYS guidelines to quarantine for 14 days when returning from a state or country on the NYS travel advisory list regardless of whether or not there are symptoms present.
Quarantine as a precautionary measure without symptoms or a positive test:
“An exposure to exposure is not an exposure.” If a close contact of a child or staff member is being quarantined as a precautionary measure, without symptoms or positive tests, that child/staff member can continue to come to school.
Quarantine for family member positive COVID-19 test or symptoms of COVID-19:
In the event that a parent/caregiver of a child (or roommate/spouse of a staff member) must be isolated because they have tested positive for or have exhibited symptoms of COVID-19, that parent/caregiver/teacher will not be allowed to enter the site for any reason, including picking up their child.
Should the parent/caregiver test positive, they should arrange to have an authorized contact come to pick up their child. As a “close contact”, the child/staff member must not return to school for 14 days from the last time they were in close contact with the person with COVID-19
If a BSNS student/staff member has a positive COVID-19 test:
In the event that a member of our school is diagnosed with COVID-19, we will identify all close contacts - including all adults and children in the same pod, and any other person who has been exposed to that person.
That classroom will close for 14 days and move to remote learning.
All other close contacts (including siblings) must stay home for 14 days from the last contact with the individual who has COVID-19.
BSNS is required to report COVID-19 cases to the NY State and NYC Health Departments. All diagnoses of COVID-19 or suspicion of COVID-19 diagnosis will be kept in confidence.
Life in School
Our approach to learning has not changed. We follow an emergent, play-based, project-based curriculum inspired by progressive education models. We know that children learn best when engaged in work that is meaningful, ongoing, and authentic to their interests.
The first days of school will be establishing and reestablishing routines and expectations, building trust and community, and learning new ways to keep each other safe and healthy.
Classes will be encouraged to spend extended time outdoors on our playground and in the courtyard. We will plan to spend time outside in all types of weather, including rain - so please plan to dress your child accordingly.
There will be no co-mingling of classes. Only one classroom will be allowed on the playground at a time. Space and the equipment will be disinfected between groups.
What to Bring (and not bring) from Home
To further support our efforts to maintain a safe and healthy environment at school, we ask that all employees and students bring just the essentials with them to school each day. To start our school year, this means that toys from home and backpacks will remain at home.
Children who stay in school for lunch should bring their lunch in a disposable bag, clearly labeled with their name. Children should not bring lunch boxes or containers that need to be returned home. During arrival, we will collect bagged lunches and they will be refrigerated. We will be providing individually apportioned snacks.
All students should have at least two changes of clothes that will stay in the school including socks and one extra pair of shoes (all pieces labeled). Children who are potty training should plan on three changes of clothes. Children will not be allowed to share clothes this year. If your child needs a change of clothes and does not have one in school, a parent/caregiver will be called to the school to provide new clothes.
Children who are wearing diapers in school should provide the school with diapers and wipes. Teachers will let you know when those supplies are running low.
Visitors will be limited to only essential people:
• Specialized repair or maintenance workers
• State or City inspectors, etc.
All visitors will be required to complete a health screening and follow the same procedures and requirements as our staff.
We are still reimagining the way specialists may work in the coming school year. This may be an opportunity to practice our virtual learning skills, by “zooming” specialists into the classroom or may include some in-person, socially distanced interaction.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols
We will ensure adherence to the hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and NYC DOH.
Although we will have hand sanitizer available throughout the building, we will be mandating soap and water hand washing frequently throughout the day. This will include:
Upon entering the classroom in the morning
Before snack and lunch
After being outdoors
Cleaning and Disinfecting
We will continue to adhere to the most up-to-date cleaning and disinfecting protocols. Cleaning logs will be maintained to ensure that all protocols are being met. All products used will be from the approved list from the CDC. Additionally, we have purchased Electrostatic disinfectant sprayers to allow us to perform these cleanings most efficiently.
Frequently touched and high traffic areas like elevators, hallways, bathrooms, doorknobs, and handrails will be cleaned regularly throughout the day.
Common spaces like playgrounds, lobby, sanctuary, etc. will be cleaned after each class’s use.
Classrooms, that contain toys and materials will be cleaned at the end of each day. We will also be rotating what is available in the classroom to allow for deeper cleaning.
All measures to ensure increased fresh airflow are being taken. We will have windows open in all areas whenever possible. All air-conditioning filters have been upgraded and will be replaced frequently.
Face Masks and PPE
All BSNS staff are required to wear face masks; some may also choose to wear a face shield and/or gloves at certain times of the day.
Children will be strongly encouraged to wear masks, which are to be provided by parents. We will do our best to help children to acclimate to this new policy, however, we cannot require compliance. We encourage parents to start practicing wearing masks with your child at home. All children, regardless of age, will be asked to wear masks when walking in common areas.
We recognize that physical distancing is not always feasible for young children. We will expect and encourage children to play, explore, and create together, however, we will limit the number of children in any one indoor area or table at a time. Class sizes have been reduced and classes will operate independently of other classes.
As early childhood educators, we know that it is vital to provide physical comfort for crying, sad or anxious children. We also know that we will need to be in close contact with students during some caregiving routines. We will continue to meet the emotional and security needs of your children while ensuring that we are taking every related precaution.
Children who are in school for rest time (Blue Room) will be spread out as much as possible in the classroom (or ‘camping’ outside!) and will be placed head to toe (with at least 6’ between them). Teachers will work to minimize time standing in lines, keeping children at safe distances apart from each other whenever possible.
We will be utilizing appropriate signage and floor markings to keep adults and children safe during transitions. This includes limiting stairwell traffic to one direction (there will be an “up” staircase and a “down” staircase), limiting the number of people in the elevator, and indicating placement on the floors.
Communication and Community
We will be sending a weekly email. It will come out on Thursday afternoons and will include announcements and reminders, important updates to policies.
Building a community for students, parents, and families is a vital part of our identity as a school and we are committed to finding solutions that are both physically distant and socially connected.
We will be offering social and educational parent programming on Zoom this year and we will look to provide other opportunities for engagement and relationship building.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How often will children be using hand sanitizer?
A: Our preferred method of hand cleaning is always soap and water and children will be washing hands at regular intervals. Upon entering the building, however, and if soap and water are not readily available, we will provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and then will direct them to wash hands as soon as it is possible.
Q: If my caregiver or I have a fever, does my child need to stay home?
A: No. The recommendation would be for the ill person to be tested for COVID-19 as fever is a primary symptom. If that test is positive OR if the child starts to develop symptoms, the child must remain out of school.
Q: My child had a play date with another child who has now been diagnosed with COVID-19, does my child need to stay home?
A: Yes. If your child has been exposed (defined as within 6 feet of the person for 10 minutes or more), your child must remain at home for 14 days from last exposure.
Q: A member of my household was exposed and is now quarantining, does my child need to stay home?
A: No. "An exposure to exposure is not an exposure." However, if the member of your household subsequently tests positive or exhibits symptoms, your child will need to stay home, as outlined.
Q: How long does my child need to be absent if they have a cough/fever?
A: It depends. If your child receives a negative COVID test then they can return to school after they are fever-free for 72 hours without the aid of medication and symptoms have improved. If they do not receive a COVID test, your child will need to remain home for 10 days AND be fever free for 72 hours without the aid of medication and have improved symptoms.
Q: What if my child has a runny nose?
A: A mild, clear runny nose on its own is not a reason to stay home. If the discharge becomes thicker, is colored, or increases they may be asked to stay home. If the runny nose is in combination with other symptoms (achiness, sore throat, headache, gastrointestinal issues) the child will be required to stay home.
Q: My child has strep with a fever. Since we know it is strep, can they return to school once they are fever free and have taken medication?
A: No. Children can have more than 1 illness. If your child has a fever, they will need to follow the guidelines for a fever. If you are seeing your doctor for strep, we would recommend that you request a COVID-19 test as well.
Q: Will we be able to come in for Shabbat? To celebrate my child’s birthday? Can I send a snack?
A: As of now, no, unfortunately. We will provide snacks, served individually by teachers. For your child’s birthday, the class will make a special treat with the class to celebrate. We will continue to look for ways to bring parents in safely and in a way that does not disrupt your child’s separation.
Q: What if my child isn’t potty trained? Will teachers be able to change my child’s diaper? And what safety measures will be taken?
A: Yes, of course. Teachers will be wearing PPE (gloves, smocks, and face shields) and all diapers will be changed on a disposable mat that will be discarded after each change.
Q: What happens if someone in my child’s class is diagnosed with COVID-19?
A: If a student or teacher receives a positive diagnosis of COVID-19, all families in that class will be notified immediately and the classroom will be closed for 14 days and moved to remote learning. During the closure, everything in that classroom will be deep cleaned so that we will ready to reopen safely on day #15.
Q: I’m worried that all of these precautions will take away the flavor of the BSNS. Will my child still have fun?
A: Absolutely! It is our goal to make life at school as normal as possible for the children in our program. Things will LOOK a little differently, but the core of the program remains the same. Your children will play together, learn together, grow together.
All members of the BSNS community have a shared responsibility to prevent the spread of illness. It is our expectation that families will take the appropriate precautions with regards to social distancing and mask-wearing, even when outside of school. Failure to do so could result in your child being required to stay home from school.
Health and Safety Covenant
I, , acknowledge that I have read, understood, and will abide by the guidelines and practices outlined here.
Parent Name: (please print)
Parent Name: (please print)