Politz Day School Reopening FAQs
Resuming In-Person Instruction
- What is the plan in terms of catching students up from what they missed or did not learn properly last Spring due with the abrupt transition to remote learning?
Our administration and teachers have worked over the summer to plan for the important first days of school. We will incorporate student assessment and teach lessons geared toward reviewing entry skills on a personalized level.
- If my child requires quarantining at home, will they still have access to remote learning?
We recognize the significant educational disruption that could result from missing 14 days of school. Therefore, we have developed technological solutions to allow for quarantined students to remotely access their classroom from home.
- If the school needs to shut down, will we automatically transition back to Politz Online via Zoom?
Although our goal is to offer full-time, in-person instruction for all students, the administration and faculty are preparing for scenarios where we will be forced to transition to remote learning via an enhanced Politz Online Learning program. We are exploring how to accommodate children of essential workers in case of a shut down.
- What if there are families that are not comfortable sending their children back to school?
If a family feels that it is unsafe for their children to attend school in-person due to health concerns of the child or family members, the same technology used for quarantined students will be available in order to reduce or eliminate missed instructional time and to allow students and teachers or rebbeim to engage with each other in real-time.
- Are parents/visitors allowed in the building?
At this time all visitors, including parents, will be restricted from the school building. We ask that parents avoid coming to the school during the day to drop off lunch or other non-critical supplies.
- How will students and staff be monitored for symptoms or exposure to Covid-19?
We will be implementing a mandatory online and in person screening process that must be completed daily for each student and staff member in order for him or her to attend school that day. A second more extensive health wellness affirmation will be sent out every six weeks for parents and staff to complete. Details and instructions will be finalized and communicated before school begins.
- How will symptom reporting be enforced?
Safety is a responsibility that is incumbent upon every member of the Politz family - including parents, faculty, staff, and students - and we must be confident that our parent partners are entirely reliable to actively assess their child(ren)’s health. Every family will be required to sign the School Attendance Affirmation every six weeks.
- What symptoms must be reported?
At this time, any new cough, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, or fever (>100°F) must be reported and that child may not attend school. Other symptoms that must be reported include congestion or rhinorrhea (runny nose), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, myalgia (muscle aches). In addition, any exposure to a Covid-19 positive person (including family members) must be reported immediately.
- Will the school be conducting daily temperature checks for students?
We will be conducting daily temperature checks before students enter the building. Students who develop symptoms in school will have their temperatures checked by the school nurse, and directed temperature checking may be carried out for contacts of a patient with a known or suspected case of Covid-19.
- Will children be required to stay home if they have symptoms of a cold?
We will be implementing strict measures of health and safety this year and strongly encourage parents to take extra precautions when deciding to send their children to school or keeping them home. We will all need to work together to ensure that our school remains open and children can safely attend classes. This requires a more cautious approach to allowing students with illness into school. All students with symptoms of illness must be kept home. Students may not be given fever-reducing medicine and then sent to school.
- My child(ren) always has/have runny noses from October through March. Will they not be allowed to attend school?
As mentioned above, in order to protect our school community and reduce the risks of transmission of illness (including non-Covid-19 respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses), we are obligated to take extra precautions. While these measures may seem too convservative, we must adopt a more stringent approach to infection control and prevention than in past years. Nevertheless, we must be pragmatic in our decision-making and recognize that not every runny nose or sore throat is reason for exclusion from school. We urge parents to recognize when their child may be developing an acute illness and attempt to distinguish that from allergic or weather-related symptoms. In uncertain cases, please consult with your child’s pediatrician. For symptoms that develop during the school day, the school nurse will evaluate the student and make a decision in conjunction with the parents and/or the child’s pediatrician.
- When can a symptomatic or exposed student return to school?
All determinations will be made based on CDC guidelines in conjunction with Department of Health recommendations. If a household member is sick (child, parent, sibling, childcare provider). All members of the household MUST stay home pending evaluation by a healthcare professional for possible Covid-19 infection. If the household member is determined by a healthcare professional to be low risk for Covid-19 infection - other members may return to campus. The ill member will require physician clearance to return (as above). If the household member is Covid-19 positive or highly suspicious for Covid-19 with negative or pending test, all household members must be quarantined as per CDC and DOH guidelines.
- What happens if someone develops symptoms at school?
Students or staff displaying any symptoms will be evaluated by the school nurse. Any student with Covid-19 symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, or shortness of breath) will be immediately separated from others and will wait in a designated isolation room until picked up by a parent or caregiver. Parents must have a plan to pick up their child from school in case of illness as soon as possible (no longer than 1 hour from notification). Emergency contact information must be up to date. The parent or designated pick-up person (who will transport a child with suspected Covid-19 symptoms) should call the school upon arrival and wait for the student to be escorted outside by a staff member. Any area used by a sick student or staff member will be closed off until it has been cleaned and disinfected.
- Will students need to wear face coverings?
On August 3, 2020, Governor Murphy mandated universal face coverings for all students in school buildings. Politz will follow all applicable laws and regulations. Wearing face coverings has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19, especially when physical distancing is not possible or challenging. In addition, universal face coverings may potentially prevent the need for quarantine if there is a confirmed case of Covid-19 at school. Therefore, all students (preK-Grade 8) will wear self-supplied face coverings at all times. Younger preschool students will be encouraged to wear masks and keep social distance as much as possible.
- What face coverings are acceptable?
Face coverings must cover the nose and mouth and be secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or wrapped around the lower face. A face covering can be made of a variety of synthetic or natural fabrics, including cotton, silk, or linen, and must cover the mouth and nose and stay in place with normal movements. Neutral colors are suggested and school-age appropriate designs (i.e. dots, stripes) will be permitted. Facial shields may be worn in addition to masks, but not as an alternative. Masks with valves are NOT allowed as they are designed to protect the wearer but not the people around them. Sharing of face covering is absolutely prohibited. Cloth or other reusable masks should be cleaned daily.
- Will any design of mask be allowed?
Many masks will be allowed. Masks should not be political in nature or objectively “scary” to children nor should they have pop culture references.
- Will the school be providing masks?
No. We encourage parents to purchase and test different styles of masks that fit their child and begin acclimating their children to wearing them prior to the start of school. We are exploring having Politz logo masks available for purchase on our website.
- When will students be permitted to remove their masks?
Students will not be required to wear masks during outdoor recess or when eating snacks and lunch as long as they maintain a distance of 6 feet from each other. Schedules will be revised to include limited structured mask breaks throughout the day while still preventing students from being in close contact. Students who are seated at desks or assigned work spaces with desk shields will be allowed teacher-directed mask breaks on a limited basis.
- Will students and staff be expected to maintain a recommended distance between each other?
Classroom assignments have been made to maximize the ratio of space to students (i.e. larger classes will be in larger areas). Teachers will attempt to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and students or other staff. In situations when teachers must be within 6 feet of students, they will be encouraged to wear face shields (in addition to masks) for enhanced protection.
- What other strategies will Politz be implementing to reduce the risk of infection transmission?
All classes will act as a “cohort” and remain together throughout the day. Students will be assigned seats and will be expected to sit in the same seat each day. Students will remain in the same classroom all day. Teachers will switch rooms, not students, with the exception of Resource and Special Teachers.
- What will physical distancing look like in preschool classrooms?
The DCFS guidelines recognize that in preschool age groups, the relative impact of physical distancing among children is likely small based on current evidence and certainly difficult to implement. Therefore, preschool classes will focus on more effective risk mitigation strategies for this population. We will therefore focus on higher-yield strategies, including cohorting classes to minimize crossover between students and faculty, using outdoor spaces whenever possible, and ensuring that children are performing frequent hand hygiene.
- What measures will be taken during snack/lunch/breaks when the masks are off?
Students will continue to be seated at least 6 ft apart during these times. There will be no sharing of food allowed. Students will stay in their cohort classrooms for all snacks and lunches, and will eat seated at their desks/tables. Students will be expected to remain in their seats for the duration of the snack and lunch breaks.
- What about the teachers’ lounge?
The teachers’ lounge is being redesigned to provide ample space to recharge while maintaining physical distancing.
- Will student traffic in the building change?
We are implementing several measures to minimize crowding in the hallways, including one-way hallways, scheduled bathroom times, and staggered recess times. For middle schoolers, there will be staggered trips to lockers, although these will be minimized as they will not be switching classrooms.
- What is Politz doing to enhance the cleaning and disinfection of the building?
There will be a strict routine for frequent cleaning of bathrooms, classrooms, hallways, common areas, elevators, doorknobs, railings etc. when school is in session, along with a rigorous night-time disinfection routine. We have added additional cleaning hours during the day to ensure regular cleaning. In addition, we plan to use electrostatic sprayers at night to disinfect rooms more thoroughly.
- What is the plan for restroom cleaning and distancing?
In addition to the increased frequency of cleaning/sanitizing, hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed to encourage all students and staff to use hand sanitizer before entering and after exiting the restroom.
- Will there be hand sanitizer readily available for students?
There will be a sanitizer station in all classrooms as well as in multiple locations in the building. Students and faculty should sanitize their hands whenever they enter or leave a room. There will also be sanitizer available at all building entrances and exits and students and staff should use hand sanitizer when they exit the bus/car, enter or exit the school building for arrival, dismissal, or before and after recess. Students will be encouraged and reminded to wash their hands with soap and water before eating. Proper hand hygiene practices will be emphasized throughout the school year with both in-person education and posted reminders throughout the building.
Transportation/Arrival and Dismissal:
- Will there be busing?
Yes, but this year there are limited routes due to social distancing requirements being met by the bus companies.
- How will carpool work?
We strongly encourage families to limit the number of families participating in the same carpool, if possible. When a carpool includes more than one family, everyone older than 2 years old should wear a mask for the duration of the ride. Keep the car windows open and/or set the AC/heat to bring in outside air instead of recirculating the air within the car. Please do not allow non-carpool members (except for siblings of students) to ride in the car with the carpool. In the event that a person in the carpool is diagnosed with Covid-19, the school must be notified immediately and provided with a list of everyone in the carpool.
- How will students enter and exit the building during arrival and dismissal?
Student traffic during arrival and dismissal will be modified to reduce crowding and interactions. This will include use of different building entrances and exits, staggered timing for carpool, as well as a daily walk-up option to minimize crowding of students.
- Will there be Early and Aftercare?
Early care will be provided beginning at 8:15AM in the classroom for preschool students only. We will continue to provide limited Aftercare within a child’s classroom until 4:00PM. If Aftercare between 4:00-6:00PM is needed for your family, please contact Leslie Gordesky and further options will be explored.
- What is the plan for after-school activities?
At this point, there will be no after-school activities. As the situation develops, our Advisory Committee will re-evaluate.
- What will recess look like?
Weather-permitting, recess will be held outdoors. Our outdoor area will be divided into different zones. Each class will have recess in their assigned zone. Students will use hand sanitizer before and after recess. Students can take mask breaks when outdoors as long as they are 6ft away from others. All playground equipment will be sanitized after usage.
- Where will students eat lunch?
Students will eat lunch in their classrooms. Students will be able to remove their masks to eat as long as they are 6ft from others. If weather and scheduling permits, some classes may be able to eat lunch outdoors. We are exploring the purchase of student desk barriers as a secondary level of protection.
- What is Politz doing in terms of the social-emotional well-being of the students?
This is a high priority for our administration as we develop our academic program for the upcoming year. Our guidance department will be visiting classrooms to provide guidance, support, and engaging lessons to promote well-being. They will also lead age-appropriate lessons to help students process and navigate this new normal. We will continue to explore opportunities to share resources and guidance for parents and students throughout the year.
- Will there be a Chumash or Siddur Play, Chanukah Programs, or Graduation?
We recognize that these are important events for our students and we will strive to adapt to our Covid-19 protocols and still have meaningful events.
- Will Special Education services still be available? What about outside therapists?
We plan to offer open spaces for these services to continue. Therapists will have to abide by the same health and safety requirements as our staff.
Positive Or Suspected Cases In School:
- What happens if my child’s teacher tests positive?
If a teacher tests positive, they will be required to quarantine at home. However, the students in the class may not be required to quarantine if the teacher has worn appropriate masks and maintained physical distance. If the teacher has children in the school, they too will need to quarantine as household contacts. All determinations will be made based on CDC guidelines in conjunction with Department of Health recommendations. The ill member will require physician clearance to return (as above). If the household member is Covid-19 positive or highly suspicious for Covid-19 with negative or pending test, all household members must be quarantined as per CDC and DOH guidelines.
- What happens if a student in my child’s class tests positive?
If a student tests positive, that students (as well as any siblings and household contacts) will need to quarantine at home. The school nurse will contact the Camden County Department of Health and work together on next steps, including contact tracing and containment. Other students and teachers in that class may not need to quarantine if adequate masking and distancing protocols were followed. If that is the case, the school nurse will continue to monitor that class for any symptoms (in addition to the daily symptom check performed at home). However, we must recognize that the recommendations may vary depending on various factors including the regional prevalence of infection.
- What happens if a family member or household contact tests positive?
Siblings, children and other household contacts of a positive Covid-19 individual will need to be quarantined and follow Department of Health guidance. It is imperative that Politz families inform the school of a household contact diagnosed with Covid-19 even if the affected individual is not a Politz student or staff member. This will enable the school nurse and public health officials to perform appropriate contact tracing and containment as it pertains to our school operations and the safety of our community.
- Will siblings of quarantined students need to stay home?
If a household contact is quarantined for a possible exposure but is asymptomatic and has not tested positive, asymptomatic siblings would be considered secondary contacts and would likely not require quarantine. Nonetheless, it remains imperative to inform the school nurse so that contact tracing can occur in the event that there is a change in status to the exposed individual. In addition, it allows the nurse to have updated information for the Department of Health. Finally, these recommendations may vary based on prevalence of infection in the community and region and we will continue to work with the local health authorities to follow updated guidance.