Click Here for Daily Health Attestation Form

Derek Lichter, JCDS Nurse
(401) 526-3693

JCDS COVID-19 Resources


Letter from Head of School

Dear Community,

In response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, JCDS is engaged in research, learning, and deep reflection. Our Covid Task Force is working diligently to articulate a response to the crisis and to develop a set of protocols and best practices to protect our community. In concert with a panel of medical advisors (many of whom are current and alumni parents as well as leaders in their respective fields), along with thought partners of all kinds, we share these guidelines to keep our children, faculty, and families safe and well.

In developing this response, we are guided by the three values of briyut, areyvut and shleymut (health, collective responsibility and calm). While all three are critically important, Areyvut is a mindset that must inform all else. It is the imperative that each and every one of us take responsibility for others within and outside of the school. JCDS is a community first and foremost. Let us be guided by lovingkindness, respect for safety, care for one another, and care for our children.

Please do not hesitate to be in touch with me or any member of the Covid Task Force.

Above all, we wish your family mental, physical and spiritual health during this challenging time.

לבריאות (to your health),

Shira Deener
Head of School

Guiding Principles ➲

  • Mitigating Risk
  • Sharing Collective Responsibility
  • Practicing Calm
  • Simplifying when Possible
  • Acting with Flexibility

Task Force ➲

  • Finance: Ed Black and Nathan Hayman
  • Health: Derek Lichter, Jonah Peretz-Lange, Medical Advisors
  • Education: Chavah Goldman, Jonah Peretz-Lange, Meg Lederman, Gavi Elkind, Oren Kaunfer, Dorit Zmiri, Support Services Team Members
  • Community and Communications: Gavi Elkind, Rachel Fish, Shira Deener, Oren Kaunfer
  • Facilities: Robert Neumann, Ed Black, Gavi Elkind, Shira Deener

Medical Advisors ➲

  • Jonah Peretz-Lange (Former JCDS School Nurse)
  • Dr. Michael Agus (Boston Children's Hospital, Critical Care)
  • Dr. Doron Korinow (Newton Wellesley Hospital, ER)
  • Dr. David Chodirker (Newton Wellesley Hospital, Family Medicine)
  • Dr. Daniel Horn (Massachusetts General Hospital, Internal Medicine and Population Health)
  • Dr. Bruce Weinstock (MGH, Emergency/Pediatrics)
  • Derek Lichter, School Nurse

Communications ➲

Click Here for the Student Daily Health Attestation Form

Click Here for the Staff Daily Health Attestation Form

Click Here to view the JCDS COVID-19 Algorithm

Click Here to View the JCDS COVID-19 Protocols

Click Here to view 8.27 Message from Shira Deener

Click here to download the 8.20 Parent Town Hall slides

Click here to view the 8.20 Parent Town Hall recording

Click here to download the 7.23 Parent Town Hall slides

Click here to view the 7.23 Parent Town Hall follow up message from Shira Deener

Click here to view the 7.23 Parent Town Hall recording

Healthy Practices ➲

In order to foster a safe and healthy community, we will be working closely with our students, faculty, and staff members to build a culture of healthy practices. These are designed to promote and ensure the well-being everyone's health and well-being. These Healthy Practices include:

  • Daily health attestation: Families will be asked to submit a daily health attestation form indicating that, to the best of your knowledge, your child(ren) is not experiencing symptoms from a predefined list, and has not been exposed to a person that has tested positive for COVID-19
  • Masks for all grades: All students and faculty members in grades K-8 will wear masks each day. Face shields will also be available for students, faculty, and staff members.
  • Hand hygiene: We will be working closely with all members of our community to promote a culture of regular handwashing and sanitizing.
  • Click Here to View the JCDS COVID-19 Protocols
  • Click Here to view the JCDS COVID-19 Algorithm

Healthy Community ➲

Creating a healthy community continues with social-emotional supports for kids and families along with mental health supports for students. JCDS is dedicated to providing community members with:

  • A robust social-emotional curriculum

    • In order to practice calm, we will provide trainings for families, students, and staff and emphasize the social-emotional well-being of the entire JCDS community.
    • Virtual Kabbalat Shabbat every Friday gives the community a chance to connect with each other.
  • Mental health supports: Our Support Services team is available to help students through this time:

    • Lauren Panzano, Director of Support Services
    • Lindsey Sherer, Social Worker
    • Avi Minder, Dean of Student Culture
    • Derek Lichter, School Nurse

Click here to find a COVID-19 testing location near you.

Healthy Building ➲

Creating a safe school environment depends equally on specific school practices and protocols AND community social responsibility (Areyvut) towards pandemic safety measures. As a community and a school, we rely on one another to practice and promote the following:

  • Physical distancing will be mandatory at all times, with a goal of 6 feet or more space between individuals. Closer momentary masked encounters (eg. passing in the hallway or bathroom) is NOT a breach of this guideline.
  • Cohorts/assigned seating/split classes where possible: Students will be placed in cohorts by grade in order to minimize potential contacts, facilitate contact tracing should the need arise, and minimize disruptions to the school as a whole should a case of covid19 occur. Each grade will be a cohort and within each grade, students will split into two subgroups throughout the day allowing for even further distancing.
  • Classroom configuration: "Classes will look very different as we follow DESE guidelines. Desks will be arranged in rows 6 feet apart.
  • Ventilated spaces: All classrooms are equipped with up to date ventilation systems.
  • Outdoor learning/outdoor structures: We will have outdoor structures to enable outdoor learning when possible.
  • Limiting non-essential personnel on campus
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures
  • Click Here to View the JCDS COVID-19 Protocols

Resources ➲

FAQs ➲

→ Whom do I inform if I have to keep a student home due to symptoms?

Please email, as well as your child's teaching team, by 7am on the morning of your child's absence. You can also reach Derek Lichter (School Nurse) at (401) 526-3693."

→ If someone in my household has cold symptoms, does my JCDS child need to stay home?

As long as your child is without symptoms, your child can go to school. If the symptomatic person tests positive for COVID-19, then your child needs to quarantine and get tested as soon as possible. Be sure to consult with your doctor in this case.

→ What happens if my child develops symptoms during the school day?

In this case, the teacher will inform the school nurse, who will briefly evaluate your child. The student will wait in the Medical Isolation Room adjacent to the nursing office while awaiting expedited pick-up. Siblings of a symptomatic child will not be required to return home during the day, and may return to school the next day.

JCDS policy is that all symptomatic students have a molecular (PCR) test:

  • Negative result - the student may return to school once fever is resolved (without fever-reducing medication) for more than 24 hours AND all symptoms are resolved for more than 24 hours. A note with physician clearance will be required.
  • Positive result - the student will quarantine at home for at least 10 days AND until at least 3 days have passed without fever, and any other symptoms are substantially resolved. A note with physician clearance will be required.

→ If my child is in a class where there is a positive Covid-19 case, what happens?

All students and teachers in the grade of a positive case are considered close contacts and will need to stay home in quarantine and be tested four days after your child's last contact with the positive case. In accordance with Massachusetts DESE, DPH, and CDC guidance, contacts are required to quarantine at home for 14 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive, regardless of a negative test result.

The classroom teacher will be informed, as will all cohort parents. Parents will be informed that there is a COVID-19 positive contact in the cohort. There is no mandate to expedite your child's pick up, but your child may be picked up as early as you choose. All students in that cohort must be picked up by a parent, as they may NOT go home by bus or carpool.

→ My child's grandparents live in Connecticut, and we visit them every few weeks. Will my child be required to stay home for 14 days every time we visit them?

JCDS requires that those families returning to Massachusetts from a Level-1 area (higher risk) must quarantine for 14 days or produce an appropriately timed negative Covid19 test. Connecticut is currently not a Level-1 area, so your student would not be required to quarantine or test. Currently, all US states except for the New England states (excluding Rhode Island) are Level-1 states. Please notify the school nurse if you plan to travel to a designated risk area.

→ What happens if my child tests Covid-19 positive?

Please inform the school nurse, Derek Lichter, as soon as you have this information by calling (401) 526-3693.

Your child will need to stay in home quarantine for at least 10 days AND for at least 3 day after fever is resolved and other symptoms are clearly substantially improved.

Household contacts and all other close contacts (defined as persons within 6' unmasked for greater than 15 minutes of a 24-hour period) within 48 hours of the case's symptom onset will need to quarantine and arrange testing. Such testing should occur after 4 days have passed after last contact with the positive Covid case.

→ Does the school plan to go into full remote learning if a single student or teacher tests positive for Covid-19? If not, what might trigger that decision?

In this circumstance, all potentially exposed facility areas and equipment will be closed and re-opened only after professional cleaning and disinfecting. Any decision to revert to full Kehila Mekusheret (schoolwide remote learning), in this or in other circumstances, will be made in collaboration with the JCDS medical task force and State DPH.

JCDS reserves the right to revert to Kehila Mekusheret (schoolwide remote learning) . Some of the situations in which this could potentially arise include if:

  • There are several Covid19 positive cases within the school or school community
  • community control of the virus is poor
  • A stay at home order is issued by the Governor or State DPH
  • School leadership determines that student, teacher/staff or family adherence to safety protocols is unsafe

→ What kind of masks are acceptable? Can a face shield substitute for a mask?

Masks must be either medical-grade layered paper masks (ASTM level 1 certified or greater, preferred for adults), or layered cloth masks (acceptable for children). Neck gaiters or bandanas are NOT acceptable. Face shields do NOT serve as replacements for masks, though they can be worn in conjunction with masks.

→ What should I do if my child tests positive for Covid-19 on the weekend? What if I find out on Shabbat?

Please inform Derek Lichter, school nurse by calling his JCDS voicemail at (401) 526-3693.

Please call as soon as possible so that the school can begin notification of your child's cohort so that those students can quarantine at home and make arrangements for testing as soon as possible

Because timely notification of close contacts for the reasons delineated above can prevent spread of infection and potentially save lives, such notification should supercede Shabbat (Pikuach Nefesh)

→ Should my children carpool to school? Is it safe?

Ideally, children should safely walk or cycle to school, or come to school in their own family vehicle without additional riders. When carpooling is (understandably) necessary, all occupants should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Wear a mask at all times
  • carpool with only the classroom cohort when possible
  • Open windows as much as possible
  • Spread out from each other as much as feasible
  • NEVER be in a carpool if not feeling well or overtly sick
  • Sanitize hands before riding

→ What can I and my family do to enhance community safety?

Model masking, social distancing and hand hygiene in appropriate ways for your children

Talk about the importance of individual and family responsibility towards the JCDS and wider community (Areyvut)

Develop a Covid19 testing plan in partnership with your physician, should the need arise

  • Testing MUST be a “PCR/molecular" test - NOT an “antigen" test, which is less accurate
  • Seek accurate testing with shortest reporting time (to help minimize potential lost classroom time)

Develop a plan for expedited pick up of a symptomatic child at school. Ideally, a symptomatic child is picked up from school within 1-2 hours of notification.

Check the COVID19 banner frequently at the JCDS website for updated COVID related information (under development).

→ How are sibling's classes affected by a positive COVID19 test result?

Example: Let's say Jack and Jill are siblings. Jack is in 4th grade and Jill is in 2nd grade. Jack has a positive test.

  • Jack (+ test result) must isolate for 10 days + 3 days with no fever and improvement in other symptoms. If he is in school when his test result is reported, she is isolated, and picked up on an expedited basis.
  • As close contacts, Jack's class goes into quarantine for 14 days, starting after school (they may be picked up early, but this is not mandatory). They must also undergo testing, but a negative result does not reduce a classmate's quarantine duration.
  • Jill, his sister, also goes into home quarantine. If she is in school at the time the test resulted, and has no symptoms, the protocol does not require she be picked up on an expedited basis (but she may be picked up earlier if parents desire).
  • Jill's classmates are not considered close contacts (no known exposure), and not are required to quarantine or test -- unless Jill's subsequent PCR test is positive.
  • Jill's quarantine duration is 14 days starting from her last close contact with Jack during his 10-day infectious period (put another way, her quarantine duration will reset to 14 days upon each repeat exposure <6 feet >15 minutes).
  • A negative C19 test result does not change Jill's quarantine duration. (On the other hand, if Jill were to test positive on day 4, then her quarantine duration from that point is 10 more days + 3 days of recovery from symptoms.)

→ When is it safe to return to school if my child or a faculty/staff member has tested positive for Covid-19?

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms who cared for themselves at home (as opposed to hospitalized) may discontinue isolation and quarantine under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days* have passed since symptom onset and
  • At least 3 days have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms have substantially improved.
Persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 who never develop COVID-19 symptoms may discontinue isolation and other precautions 10 days after the date of their first positive PCR test for Covid19.

→ How does one obtain COVID19 testing?

Access to a PCR test with timely results varies by location, healthcare provider policy, and the reason for testing. The first option is to contact your or your child's primary healthcare provider. Different providers follow different testing criteria and are connected to different testing sites. Explaining JCDS protocols for return to school can sometimes allow access to testing in situations where one might otherwise be deferred or refused. It is also important to ask the typical time to obtain results.
Here is some guidance on obtaining a test when one is not available via a PCP's office:

  • The Commonwealth maintains an updated list of testing sites and a map-based test locator tool. Note that if you use an urgent care provider, confirm that the test is a PCR (not rapid antigen test).
  • The Commonwealth offers free "Stop the Spread" testing programs in communities across the state, open to all Massachusetts residents
  • Project Beacon manages express drive-through test sites in Revere and Framingham, open to all state residents. After registration, individuals can book appointments in advance
  • The City of Cambridge Public Health Department offers free PCR testing for Cambridge residents.
  • The City of Somerville offers free testing for Somerville residents Mon-Fri in Assembly Square, and at mobile testing sites around the city.
  • The Brookline Health Department is offering free PCR testing for Brookline residents with symptoms from Nov 2nd through Dec 31st.
  • CIC Health (a partner of the Broad Institute) offers PCR tests to individuals for $80, at locations in Kendall Square in Cambridge, and the Riverside MBTA lot in Newton. Their test results are back within 24 hours, on average.
  • Home-based mail-order testing is also available from companies like LabCorp and Vault. Test results take 1-3 days after samples are received by the lab.

Submit a Question ➲

Current families, please submit questions here: